Suicide Club by Rachel Heng

In her debut novel, Rachel Heng takes this to its wildest extreme, creating a society where health, ageing and mental wellbeing are all government mandated.

Book Review by Kirstyn Smith | 05 Jul 2018
  • Suicide Club
Book title: Suicide Club
Author: Rachel Heng

What is particularly chilling about Suicide Club is that the dystopian world it’s set in – one obsessed with looks and youth – is not an entirely implausible vision of the future. We don’t have SmartBlood™, DiamondSkin™ or Repairants™, but we do have diet, beauty and pseudo-wellness industries which hardly have our best interests at heart.

In her debut novel, Rachel Heng takes this to its wildest extreme, creating a society where health, ageing and mental wellbeing are all government mandated. Work nine-to-five, sleep eight hours a night, enjoy your oxygen shots, don’t listen to jazz, or you’ll become a sub-100. The goal, inevitably, is immortality whether you like it or not.

What happens in a world where dying is discouraged? One where every digression you make is noted on your record and, if you are deemed in any way less than perfect, you could be put on the Observation List? Beyond exploring the ways our physical health and beauty are monitored, Suicide Club also analyses how society views poor mental health, grief and how and why we mourn the living and the dead.

"At least he’s alive," one character remarks about a painter who is too much of a lost cause even for WeCovery, living in a detention centre and forced to take all his nutrition intravenously. But at what cost? Asks Heng. Through crisscrossing stories about love and loss, suffused in some wonderful and heartbreaking prose, she takes the reader on a journey to truly understand the question: who wants to live forever?

Sceptre, 10 July, £12.99 https://www.hodder.co.uk/books/detail.page?isbn=9781473672901