The author paints a disturbing picture of a government that values survival at any and all costs. It’s a creative premise, and it’s fascinating to read about Lea’s carefully crafted life unraveling before her. Heng’s confident prose makes this book an easy read, despite tackling difficult subjects such as suicide and the right to die.
Suicide Club stared up at me as if I'd let it down by not making more progress. But the book's insistence that I read it, even while grossly sick, is a testament to its power ... What really makes Suicide Club shine is that it explores big themes without ever getting bogged down under its own weight. It certainly made me ponder death and my own mortality more than I normally do, and I think that's the point. By painting a world on the cusp of human immortality as horribly grim, it also makes you appreciate what we have now even more.
As a portrait of desensitized consumers who find release in self-destructive violence, Suicide Club carries echoes of Fight Club ... The pursuit of longevity, meanwhile, is acerbically funny in Heng’s hands ... Heng faces the challenge of creating a meaningful narrative that’s premised on the inherent pointlessness of pursuing eternity for its own sake. For the most part, she succeeds. The pacing of Lea’s character development is jerky, at times feeling incomplete as she wavers between fascination, repulsion, and sympathy with the members of the Suicide Club ... For all her visceral descriptions of physical detail and sensation, Lea’s emotional vocabulary is limited.
It is not difficult to imagine a future similar to the one in which Lea lives, where organ replacement surgeries and enhancements and the desire to remain young forever are seen as the norm ... Fans of modern speculative fiction and readers who love stories that warn us to be careful what we wish for will be enthralled by Heng's highly imaginative debut, which deftly asks, 'What does it really mean to be alive?'
Suicide Club’s granular focus on the body is further performed at the level of language, demonstrated through the novel’s distinctive use of chemical and medical nomenclature ... Suicide Club’s focus on the intersections of class, health, and economics is timely and pertinent ... an imaginative rendering of how accelerated contemporary conditions on a future trajectory render the ethical dubiousness of such conditions transparent.
I’m pleased to say that Heng’s debut novel, Suicide Club, is a rich piece of futurism, frightening and moving in equal measure, and that I can happily recommend it to readers looking for a literary take on dystopia ... My only real quibble with the book also comes with its worldbuilding. There’s no sense that the climate has changed significantly in this future, so either we humans of the present threw the brakes on our current problems, or the climate bounced back. Also, most of the Lifers seem economically stable ... Heng only shows us the edges of the authoritarian government that looms behind her story, but even those edges are chilling. Obviously depression and suicidal ideation are strictly forbidden, and attempted suicide means being sent to truly awful support groups. That’s the other thing, though—since people have super-strength, quick-healing skin, mechanical hearts, reinforced bones—there aren’t many options left for those who want to end their lives. I would say that this is the true joy of reading this book. I’m not advocating for suicide here, but Heng’s book reminds us that honoring self-determination, bodily autonomy, or even good old-fashioned free will means allowing people to have the final say over their bodies.
Heng’s uneven debut ... casts a critical eye on the desirability of immortality and contains some haunting, indelible moments. However, it’s weighed down by a lack of action and an overreliance on explication that undermine her conceit instead of allowing it to breathe and develop, making this an ambitious novel with mixed success.
Heng expertly threads a ribbon of dread through her glittering vistas and gleaming characters; however, the plot is so solidly foreshadowed that the climax, when it comes, feels almost preordained. This speaks to the intricacy of the world Heng has created and sets a dark mirror against the robotic bureaucracy of the Ministry's oversight ... Unfortunately, it also undercuts the author's considerable skill at rendering her characters in all their solid, bodily reality by making their actions seem less like startling acts of free will and more like functions of an overweening plot. A complicated and promising debut that spoofs the current health culture craze even as it anticipates its appalling culmination.