29 June 2016
Don DeLillo’s newest book philosophically debates one of the hardest realities in life to accept: death, but through a modern lense. The novel revolves around the philosophical ideal of: “We are born without choosing to be. Should we have to die in the same manner? Isn’t it a human glory to refuse to accept a certain fate?” The book begins with the main character Jeffrey Lockhart, unaware of where he is being sent, traveling to meet his father and stepmother, Ross and Artemis. He arrives at a secret, remote compound where his father informs him that he has been investing in this place where death is being intricately controlled. At the compound, Jeffrey discovers that this secret group is preserving the bodies of those who are terminally ill and wealthy enough until a time in the future when medical advances and new age technologies can return them to life as almost super humans, thus cheating death. He learns his stepmother Artemis is dying and has decided to go through with the process and even more surprisingly: they have a program for those who are perfectly healthy who decide to “die” early of their own volition to be a part of this super human future.
DeLillo’s writing is superb, intricate, and deeply moving while dipping its toes into several genres at once: fiction, sci-fi, science and philosophy. It is impossible not immerse oneself in the philosophical debates about what it is to live and what it is to die in our modern society through the use of characters spanning all ages and walks of life. The concept behind the book, theorizing about future technologies and their capabilities to prolong our lives or even avoid death completely, is exceptionally novel and incredibly relevant. While I absolutely loved this work and would recommend it to almost anyone, it is not for the faint hearted. I would not recommend this book to anyone not interested or uncomfortable with the concept and philosophy of death and its (potential) inevitability.