Review: The Postmortal

TITLE: The Postmortal
AUTHOR: Drew Magary
PUBLICATION: 2011 by Penguin Books
FORMAT: Paperback


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.


I became familiar with this book thanks to Bibliotropic’s review and I have wanted to get my hands on a copy of it, but the library didn’t have one until recently. I was browsing in one of the bigger chain bookseller establishments back in October and seen a copy on the shelf, but I was wary about purchasing it at that time. What if it turned out to be one of those books that everyone else raves about except me? So with luck the library had it available in their catalog during a browsing session in November and there was a very small wait list.

The novel itself is the compilation of John Farrell’s entries that were believed to have been composed for a blog or online journal as the opening chapter explains. There are articles as well as other blog posts that have been copied and pasted with his thoughts on it. The earliest entries begin in the year 2019 so it’s still fairly close to our own times that we can recognize everything, and it’s not a far out science fiction of the future. So the novel covers the course of around fifty years, but not in one continuous stream since each dividing section jumps ahead in terms of decades.

I liked how the cure for aging is explained through scientific means in Magary’s novel. And it’s not all one big party for hundreds of years because this book also includes the moral and ethical questions that would arise in such a scenario. I like to think of the discussion between George C. Scott’s character and the priest in The Exorcist III where the priest tells him that he wouldn’t want to live forever because he’d get bored. Yet how would the masses feel if they received the opportunity to live forever? The president warns the public of the dangers that come with a global population that does not die from natural aging, but even greater dangers are created. The scary thing is that these dangers could happen in that kind of setting. While the people fail to change, their entire world around them will do it in their place.

Although I didn’t really like the character of John Farrell. He didn’t really speak to me as a character that I could connect to. He has kind of an average Joe quality to him so I guess it’s interesting to see how a normal person would react in this pre-apocalyptic situation that Magary has created. And over the course of the novel Farrell does discover how precious some things are because of the fact that they won’t last forever. It seems one tragedy after another visits him, but I couldn’t find myself feeling any sympathy for him to be honest.

The book went downhill for me in the second half. I started losing interest in part three, and part four kind of seemed like the author was getting bored by it as well. I skimmed a lot of the last fifty pages or so. I was left thinking, “That’s it?” It seems so underwhelming, and it had such a promising framework too. Overall I liked the issues that Magary raised and how it was delivered as electronic journal entries, but the execution could have used more work. In retrospect I am glad that I didn’t purchase this book back in October because I wouldn’t want to keep it on my shelves now.



One thought on “Review: The Postmortal

  1. Sounds like an interesting premise, but I can totally see how it might not be able to sustain itself for an entire book. I’m getting kind of wary of books that are a little too high concept… I had seen this title before, but didn’t know anything about it. I probably won’t be picking it up anytime soon (although I did notice that the review you linked to was absolutely glowing). The blog concept sounds interesting, though. It’s too bad you didn’t think the execution of it was all that impressive.

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