Before you consider reading Suicide Club I think it is important to note that the end of this book may be triggering to some readers. The book does not feature a trigger warning (as far as I am aware) but I believe it should!
❥ Title: Suicide Club
❥ Author: Rachel Heng
❥ Genre: YA Dystopia
❥ Rating: ★★★★★
Rachel Heng’s debut is set in near future NYC—where lives last 300 years and the pursuit of immortality is all-consuming—Lea must choose between her estranged father and her chance to live forever.
Suicide Club was nothing like I imagined. I began reading this book with the mindset that I will be reading a dystopia that would potentially be full of scandalous parties and vulgar behaviour. I was definitely reading a dystopia. I just hadn’t realised it would embody a serious tone regarding the concept of life. That sounds very ambiguous but let me explain…
Rachel Heng approaches the topic of being a “lifer” in Suicide Club in a thought-provoking and eye-opening manner. Personally, I would say this novel deals with the meaning of life. Is it to travel the world? Is it to achieve happiness within your own little universe? Is the ultimate goal of humanity to reach immortality?
Immortality is the key concept in this book. It is achieved by a combination of living a healthy lifestyle and receiving medical procedures in order to prolong your life. Plastic surgery for the immortal! Lea, the protagonist, is what society calls a ‘lifer’. Her genetic code makes her a perfect candidate for The Third Wave of medical advances. Anja, our second point of view, is part of the Suicide Club – an organisation working against immortality through various social activities. Their paths meet as Lea is put under observation from the government and must attend ‘WeCovery’ group meetings where she meets Anja.
I won’t get into much detail about the plot of the book because I fear that I will not be able to stop myself from spoiling the book. What I will discuss is the message Suicide Club is portraying through the following passage:
She imagined him sinking his perfect, white incisors into the soft red flesh, juices coating his tongue, the charred animal scent filling his nose. Her stomach lurched again, but this time, it wasn’t revulsion that she felt. It was, unmistakably, a kind of desire, so powerful that it scared her. Her mouth filled with warm saliva, her jaw clenched. She imagined running her hands over the man’s chest as he bit into a steak, as the juices slid down his throat. She imagined the nape of her neck with filthy, animal-scented hands. She imagined slipping her tongue between his lips, tasting the blood, the salt, the scent of barbecued meat.
~ p. 175
This is a pinnacle moment in the novel. Lea accidentally attends a party organised by the Suicide Club. Seems just like a normal barbecue right? Well, Lea lives off of kale smoothies. She is a ‘lifer’, after all. I digress.
This passage shows Rachel Heng’s interesting interpretation of immortality and how it would be achieved. It is absurd that in the hunt for immortality humans must sacrifice all their indulgences and desires. The simple act of eating meat is so taboo and life threatening that Lea is shocked but also aroused. It’s interesting to wrap your head around the fact that many of us indulge in things like a steak, or a drink at a gathering, while Lea is repulsed by such things in the name of immortality. The most fascinating part of Lea’s story is her progressive desire to try everything that is considered taboo and life threatening. So, what is the cost of being a lifer?
My favourite aspect of this novel is that Lea is entirely flawed. She appears to be the perfect ‘lifer’ but yet her life is full of cracks. She has illegal desires and a suspicious past. The progress of the narrative slowly reveals all of Lea’s flaws and it appears that being at peace with yourself is far more important than being accepted into The Third Wave of immortality.
I hope this review will make you want to pick up Suicide Club and experience this wonderful story for yourself. I once again want to warn you that the end of the novel may be triggering for some readers.
Until Next Time,