Suicide Club is trying to be a more profound, or more robust, book than it is. The author comes from the monied world of London finance; the futuristic world she is trying to build is based on that and wants to be a critique of it. However, the non-Manhattan/London/financial world, non-achiever, non-striving parts of this book felt unrealistic at best.
In the book, a future American society has given over to a corporate wellness culture. A shadowy and ill-explained Ministry has developed products to help people be healthier with the aim of living longer; it pairs these with systems of observation (think of your smartwatch reminding you to stand up periodically throughout the day) to keep people in check.
At least in theory. The only real consequences of not following the exercise and diet requirements seem to be going to therapy. The Ministry isn’t a very scary villain, even though Lea, our protagonist, finds its ability to thwart her high-acheivement self problematic. That’s the level of the threat: problematic. She’s not going to get hurt, there’s no immediate threat of death (the punishments seem to be either being ignored or having to go to ineffective therapy), and the ostensible threat of living forever is presented as a worthwhile goal to strive towards in the book.
The book’s sole solution for fighting the Ministry is for people to self-immolate? Which: don’t get me wrong, the Arab spring of 2011 was started with a man setting himself on fire in Tunisia. It can be a very effective form of protest. But what if people just don’t? What if they don’t buy the products? What if they don’t get the treatments? What if they don’t stand up when they get the reminder to stand up? What if they eat ice cream and fruit and sit around entertaining themselves all day long? Doing nothing and eating badly would be a form of protest against the Ministry and it’s deeply unclear what power they would have over you. But none of those are presented. Nope, it’s setting yourself on fire or nothing. What?
I am clearly not the audience for this book – I find the basic premise confusing at best and problematic at worst. Definitely skip this one.