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The Postmortal: A Novel [Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged] [MP3 CD]

Drew Magary , Johnny Heller
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 5 2011
John Farrell is about to get "The Cure."

Old age can never kill him now.

The only problem is, everything else still can . . .

Imagine a near future where a cure for aging is discovered and—after much political and moral debate—made available to people worldwide. Immortality, however, comes with its own unique problems—including evil green people, government euthanasia programs, a disturbing new religious cult, and other horrors. Witty, eerie, and full of humanity, The Postmortal is an unforgettable thriller that envisions a pre-apocalyptic world so real that it is completely terrifying.

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Review

"A must-read for fans of postmodern dystopia in the vein of Margaret Atwood, Chuck Palahniuk, and Neil Gaiman" ---Library Journal

Review

"Unnerving. . . . An absorbing picture of dawning apocalypse. . . . A disturbing portrait of a society convinced it's close to utopia when a cure for aging is invented. Unsurprisingly, it doesn't take long for that seeming utopia to dissolve into a planet-overstressed from overpopulation, food and fuel shortages, and general lawlessness-going into systemic failure. . . . The Postmortal is a suitably chilling entry into the 'it's-the-end-of-the-world' canon."
(-The Austin Chronicle )

"Magary's vision of future technology and science is eerily realistic. . . . By the time you finish, you'll want to hold your loved ones close and stockpile bottles of water. If all else fails, you could potentially make a living selling them a few decades from now."
(-The New York Press )

"An exciting page turner. . . . Drew Magary is an excellent writer. This is his first novel but he tells the story masterfully. . . . The most frightening thing about The Postmortal is that this could really happen-it's not a supernatural story, but it's even more terrifying than zombie apocalypse."
(-Mark Frauenfelder, BoingBoing )

"An exciting page turner. . . . Drew Magary is an excellent writer. This is his first novel but he tells the story masterfully. . . . The most frightening thing about The Postmortal is that this could really happen-it's not a supernatural story, but it's even more terrifying than zombie apocalypse."
(-Booklist )

"The first novel from a popular sports blogger and humorist puts a darkly comic spin on a science fiction premise and hits the sweet spot between Margaret Atwood and Kurt Vonnegut. . . . [Magary] understands that satire is most effective when it gives the real world a gently absurd nudge, then lets its characters react much as we ourselves might under the same circumstances."
(-Ron Hogan, Shelf Awareness )

"Immortality has figured in a number of sf novels prior to this one, but never, to my experience, in this way. . . . A very clear-eyed picture, one I don't think has been drawn before. . . . The Postmortal surprised me in a good way."
(-Michelle West, Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine )

"Immortality has figured in a number of sf novels prior to this one, but never, to my experience, in this way. . . . A very clear-eyed picture, one I don't think has been drawn before. . . . The Postmortal surprised me in a good way."
(-Kirkus Reviews )

"The Postmortal is a punchy, fast-paced and endearing story. . . . As the novel progresses, it turns from a snappy morality tale, to a noir- ish revenge fable, to an action movie; complete with guns, rogue religious cults and government-sanctioned hit men. The narrative comes to us through John's blog entries and collections of news bytes and pundit commentary. Through his sixty years as a 29-year-old, he experiences all the love, pain, grief, and terror of a standard lifetime and is still in good enough shape to kick some ass at the end. Like much good dystopian fiction, The Postmortal is an at-times unflattering commentary on human beings, present, past and future, that hits the mark in many ways. . . . For anyone intrigued with Life Extension science, it's a fun examination of our fears and expectations."
(-The Nervous Breakdown )

"The Postmortal is a punchy, fast-paced and endearing story. . . . As the novel progresses, it turns from a snappy morality tale, to a noir- ish revenge fable, to an action movie; complete with guns, rogue religious cults and government-sanctioned hit men. The narrative comes to us through John's blog entries and collections of news bytes and pundit commentary. Through his sixty years as a 29-year-old, he experiences all the love, pain, grief, and terror of a standard lifetime and is still in good enough shape to kick some ass at the end. Like much good dystopian fiction, The Postmortal is an at-times unflattering commentary on human beings, present, past and future, that hits the mark in many ways. . . . For anyone intrigued with Life Extension science, it's a fun examination of our fears and expectations."
(-Stefan Fatsis, author of Word Freak and A Few Seconds of Panic )

"A darkly comic, totally gonzo, and effectively frightening population- bomb dystopia in the spirit of Logan's Run, Soylent Green, and the best episodes of The Twilight Zone."
(-Neal Pollack, author of Alternadad and Stretch )

"A darkly comic, totally gonzo, and effectively frightening population- bomb dystopia in the spirit of Logan's Run, Soylent Green, and the best episodes of The Twilight Zone."
(-Will Leitch, author of Are We Winning? and God Save The Fan )

"As insanely entertaining as it is ambitious, The Postmortal takes us into an America set in the next few years and coming apart under the onslaught of a dreadful new plague--that of human immortality. Magary possesses an explosive imagination and let loose in The Postmartal, he creates an alternate history of the near future that feels real and is probably inevitable. Read The Postmortal if you want to find out what happened to the human race in our last violent and absurd few years in New York."
(-Evan Wright, author of Generation Kill )

"As insanely entertaining as it is ambitious, The Postmortal takes us into an America set in the next few years and coming apart under the onslaught of a dreadful new plague--that of human immortality. Magary possesses an explosive imagination and let loose in The Postmartal, he creates an alternate history of the near future that feels real and is probably inevitable. Read The Postmortal if you want to find out what happened to the human race in our last violent and absurd few years in New York."
(-L. Jon Wertheim, co-author of Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind Sp )

"As someone who is totally freaked out by the thought of dying, The Postmortal really stood on top of me and peed on my face. It's depiction of the future isn't filled with crappy robots fighting Will Smith. It's filled with eerily realistic portrayals of what the future could look like and does it all in an incredibly entertaining story."
(-Justin Halpern, author of Sh*t My Dad Says ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not bad at all. Jan. 24 2012
By Todd
Format:Paperback
I finished the book in 2 days. I was excited to read it as I really enjoy the author's online pieces. His first novel is not without problems but I quite enjoyed everything about it. The way that new information is introduced about the world collapsing around the protagonist reminded me of The Children of Men. Events happen around him rather than him being central to all events such as in most blockbusters.

It was a great quick read for anyone who enjoys post-apocolypitc novels. I would have no problem recommending this book and I could definitely see a movie being made of it.

Edit: I came back to edit my review and change from 3 to 5 stars. I am constantly thinking about some of the scenes in the book and the theme has very much stuck with me. I have recommended it almost as much as Vonnegut.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Why Boing Boing Why? Oct. 6 2011
Format:Paperback
I purchased this book for my Birthday, based on a Boing boing book review, it sounded good. I recently finished reading the road and I was looking for another thoughtful post-apocalyptic book. Unfortunately this is not the book for me. I find the dialogue inane and the development of the characters is flat/uninteresting. I'm sad that this was my birthday book.....I am going to leave it on the city bus today. Hopefully someone will take it away and be able to enjoy it. [...]
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing! Nov. 1 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this on a whim and was amazed by how much it touched me. The little reaper guy on the front gives an impression that this may be light-hearted- it's absolutely not. Great read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophically Thought Provoking Oct. 25 2011
By Jessica Strider TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Pros: thought provoking, philosophical without being moralistic, good mix of personal intensity and world affairs, good mix of horror and humour

Cons:

This is John Farrell's account of the years during which the cure for aging is legalized. It is discovered several years after the cure (and most documentation regarding that period) has been destroyed. This frame story gives the novel a similar feel to Max Brooks' World War Z. The reader knows how the book will end, and wants - desperately - to understand how the world came to this horrible place. And don't let the cover fool you, this book has more in common with Cormac McCarthy's The Road than it does with Christopher Moore's humorous satires.

Farrell is 29 when he gets the cure, and for the next few decades parties and enjoys life. He's a lawyer when the idea of cycle marriages (which end after 40 years) become the vogue and is often at the wrong place at the wrong time when it comes to protests and reactionary thinking. Because not everyone thinks the cure is a good thing. And the novel is VERY clear that the wrong place is everywhere. Farrell's experiences are not unique.

From protesters who want the cure legalized, pro-death terrorists, trolls who decide the internet isn't good enough for mischief - they want to maim those who are crowding their space-, to cure hotels in Vegas and the very real consequences of a population that can still catch diseases and die, but can't age beyond their treatment dates, this book covers a lot of philosophical issues. It's impressive that Magary manages to not pass judgement on his characters, showing the different sides of the cure and how humans react to it - or even the promise of it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  122 reviews
44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dystopian humor Aug. 30 2011
By TChris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In 2019, the "cure for aging" -- gene therapy -- is legal in only four countries, but immortality can be purchased on the black market. The issue is divisive: gene therapy's opponents use terrorist tactics to attack the black market while protests in favor of legalizing the cure turn ugly. The desire to cheat death ultimately triumphs.

John Farrell takes the cure without devoting much thought to its downside: If you stop aging, retirement isn't an option and you can forget about social security. If your parents don't die, you don't inherit. If you live forever, you never experience eternal respite from annoying relatives and politicians, it's less easy to ignore future threats like global warming, and the escape clause from your marital vows -- until death do us part -- becomes a nullity. Couples often say they marry so they can grow old together. Would they bother with marriage if eternal youth made possible an eternal choice of partners? On a more serious note, the pressures of overpopulation would dramatically increase the already unsustainable consumption of finite resources, a predicament that would initially lead to hoarding, then to war, and ultimately to a barren planet.

Beginning in 2019, Farrell blogs about the impact gene therapy has on his life and the world. The introduction to The Postmortal advises us that Farrell's text files are discovered in 2090. Through Farrell's eyes, we watch the escalating disaster: the rise of pro-death pressure, the burgeoning prison populations resulting from life sentences that last forever, the harsh measures China imposes to assure that its citizens forego the cure, the glorification of suicide, the fracturing of society. Some blog entries reproduce news stories, political punditry, and advertisements (including a FAQ promoting a new religion). Some of Farrell's entries are observational, others are personal.

Postmortal is not immortal; death still occurs from injury and disease, suicide and murder. Death is a frequent subject of Farrell's blog as people close to him are killed. After a few decades, Farrell becomes an end specialist (sort of a futuristic Kevorkian, except that the government not only approves of assisted suicide but rewards it with a tax rebate). It is difficult to fault Farrell's role in the postmortal future. Compared, at least, to the roving street gangs, organ thieves, and religious charlatans, Farrell's job seems both necessary and altruistic.

Although Drew Magary describes a terrifying future, he keeps the tone light -- perhaps too light. The Postmortal works surprisingly well as a dystopian comedy (if there is such a thing), but the incongruity of laughter and disaster robs the story of its potential power. In the novel's third act, after an event called "the correction" occurs, the story appears to take a more serious course. The disconnect between humor and horror at that point becomes jarring; it is not a line Magary straddles comfortably. Viewed as a cautionary tale about the consequences of overpopulation, the comedy seems misplaced; viewed as a farcical take on the desire for immortality, the drama overshadows the farce.

Those reservations aside, I have no qualms about recommending The Postmortal to readers who aren't put off by dark comedy. While I got a kick out of Magary's humor (his dialog is both realistic and insanely funny), I also enjoyed pondering the issues he raises. Magary obviously gave considerable imaginative thought to the consequences of a genetic cure for aging (including its impact on home run records). There were times when I thought the story went off course, but there was never a moment when my interest in the novel waned. In the end, Magary tells us, there is only the inevitable end. If you can accept that -- even more, if you can laugh about it -- I suspect you'll like The Postmortal.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Okay read, but fails to realize its potential July 1 2012
By Misadventure - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It's an okay read, but only sporadically clever. The idea for the story is a good one, and got me intrigued enough to buy the book. The first third or so of the book is probably the best because it deals with postmortalism becoming a new reality. Unfortunately, the story starts skipping long periods of the main character's life after that, and too often glosses over just why indefinite lifespans create the conditions that they do, and how people got together to bring about the dystopian future described. For me, this book lacked an engaging flow with the time gaps and the blog/news story chapters. The main character becomes increasingly unlikable throughout the book. You can decide for yourself whether that matters. Magary is also very very fond of similes. Many are strange and somewhat inspired, but too often the abundance of similes served to make the reading tedious and repetitive feeling. It's a thought provoking book, but in the end it fails to capitalize on its own potential.
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly vapid and boring Oct. 13 2011
By J. Olson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book came to me with high recommendations, and was a moderate, if not major, disappointment. The idea is great- a cure for aging that will render humans immortal. There is a lot of potential in this topic for a book with amazing characters and deep philosophical exploration. This book offers neither. Instead, we get a somewhat hastily-thrown-together dystopian planet which is poorly developed, and we follow the story line of a vapid main character, who experiences many tragedies and adventures. They don't make much of an impression on him, and they don't make much of an impression on the reader either. None of the events or characters do, in fact. There are a few smart moments- such as a glimpse into what emergency rooms might look like twenty (or five) years from now, but with a concept this radical there could have been much more. This book might amaze you if you've never read Philip K. Dick books or any decent science fiction. But if you have, I think you're in for a letdown.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Depressing, disturbing, compelling, captivating read April 6 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a disturbing, depressing, compelling, captivating read. I have no experience with Magary's other writings. Perhaps that is why I found no humor in the book as other's have said they found. As I read this book, I kept thinking of Lord of the Flies.

The book begins with an account of the discovery of 60 years of John Farell's "text files" containing an account of his life and the world within which he lived. We are told that these materials are being presented as "incontrovertible evidence that the cure for aging must never again be legalized".

Farell describes his decision to seek the "cure" as an obsession: "I instantly wanted it more than I had ever wanted anything....It was a want. A hunger. A naked compulsion that was bullet proof to logic and reason."

The doctor who gives Farell the cure, describes the people who come to him as vane and obsessive:

"When people come through my door, the first and only thing they think about is, `Oh boy, I'm gonna live forever.' But they don't stop to consider what that means. They want to live forever, but they don't think about what they're going to have to live with. What they'll have to carry with them. And whether or not that's something they really, truly want."

The doctor also tells Farell he can never "die a natural, peaceful death". To which Farell responds.

"I don't think most people die natural, peaceful deaths," I said. "All the loved ones I've seen die have been sick, frail, and helpless. Undergoing chemo. Lying in hospitals. Soiling their beds. Two of my grandparents died alone, with no one to talk to. I don't think natural death offers much in the way of gentle relief. I think it's a slow, wrenching thing I'd like to try to get far, far away from."

When Farell's roommate points out that he can never retire and asks "Did you consider that?", Farell tells us "I had, but I'd placed it squarely in the `things I prefer not to think about' pile."

Farell also shares a rant by a Rush Limbaugh-like, libertarian pundit, who supports the cure. The pundit, criticizes opposition to the cure as "liberal thinking at it's absolute worst. They don't want to give you the opportunity to make your own choices." Farell tells us, "I think a lot of what he says is perfectly reasonable - but he delivered a diatribe yesterday that was pretty nuts."

In short, there is a lot to chew on here. While you are chewing, try substituting other social and political changes confronting us in today's world.

This is not the best book I've ever read. But it was good enough. For me it was a page turner, despite the fact that it disturbed and depressed me. I'm glad I read it and I recommend it.

If you want great speculative writing on the peril's of genetic engineering and its consequences, try Margaret Attwood's Oryx and Crake, and the sequel, Year of the Flood. If you want a great feel-good read set in a post apocalyptic world, where people use virtual reality to escape the dark world they actually live in, try Ernest Cline's Ready Player One.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great premise - not sure the finished product tracked my expectations though... Dec 15 2011
By Jill-Elizabeth (Jill Franclemont) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I love the premise of this book - in our world in the not-so-distant future, a cure for aging has been discovered. The President has banned it in the U.S., but it is available on the black market. John Farrell, a bit of an Everyman who happens to be a divorce lawyer, has a connection and decides to take The Cure.

Initially, mayhem and madness ensue, in the best possible ways. John's future world is one of snarkiness, dark gallows humor, Shocking Revelations, and more than a few unexpected twists and turns. At least, it is in the first handful of chapters. After that, well, it becomes a lot darker and the gallows humor becomes more gallows and less humor. Random acts of violence, bitterness, resentment, ennui, and the decline of all forms of faith, hope and love are apparently the name of the game in the future. If we really are in for that kind of future, I am in no rush to sign up - let alone to extend my stay with a late check-out.

In other words, eek, she said.

The book started out terrifically, laugh-out-loud funny. And then shifted, on a dime, to horrifically, cry-out-loud depressing.

The subject matter is heavy - I get it. Issues of resource management, over-population, who "deserves" to be kept alive, and our obligations to one another in society are weighty topics. So is the concept of death. They deserve to be treated with respect - although I'm also fairly certain that they deserve to be treated with mockery and sarcasm because we don't want to take ourselves too seriously, now do we?

There are a lot of take-home platitudinous messages in the book because of the weight of the topics covered. "Be careful what you wish for" is, obviously, prime among them. But "nothing good lasts forever," "to everything there is a season," and "only the good die young" have their places in the sun too. And for the most part, Magary uses them well - they serve to demonstrate the ridiculousness and hypocrisy of many characters and situations, and to provide a nice reminder every now and then about the dangers of over-thinking and under-feeling.

There are also a lot of great lines and darkly funny situations. That's how the book was billed, and the author (Drew Magary) did deliver. This is what I expected the major focus of the book to be, actually, given Magary's other writing credits. I mean, hello, how can you not expect great things from a man whose other book is titled "Men With Balls: The Professional Athlete's Handbook" and who also writes for Deadspin, Maxim, and has contributed to Comedy Central, Playboy, and Penthouse? So humor - dark, odd, random, man-focused humor I expected - especially after reading Magary's own take on his book on Deadspin.

But then he went off on a dystopian "the future is scary!" tangent or two (or six or twelve). And that I found a tad wearing after a while...

Again, I get it. The book is a combo entertainment/cautionary tale. But the existential angst surrounding John Farrell and his family/friends was entertaining for a while, then it got a little heavy-handed to my tastes. Personally, I don't know that I see all that much appeal in a cure for aging. From the beginning, I rather fell in line with the pro-death traditionalists (and John's father) when they pointed out that everything good must come to an end - and that this is not necessarily a bad thing or something to avoid, but just a necessary part of life and the appreciation of what we have. This is, ultimately, the message Magary sends us away with - and it's a good one. But frankly, I think he could have delivered it without quite as many participants in the parade of horribles that poor John Farrell had to deal with along the way...
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