“I don’t want to die. I’m terrified of death. I fear there’s nothing beyond it and this existence is the only one I’ll ever possess.”
Those three sentences uttered by John Farrell, the main protagonist of The End Specialist sum up the ethos of the stunning debut from Drew Magary.
The End Specialist is a powerful study of man’s nature that reads like a post-apocalyptic George Orwell tale.
Set in the very near future, John Farrell is only 29 when he take The Cure. A new found cure for aging that means that you never grow old and can’t die from natural causes.
At first this seems like the answer to all of life’s problems, but as the years progress Farrell becomes cold and alone as he realises the futility of immortality.
At the same time society begins to crumble as religious fundamentalists declare war on the newly monikered Postmortals, who are the vast majority of the population who have opted out of dying.
Farrell becomes so disenfranchised that he takes a job as a government sanctioned End Specialist, a fancy name for what is essentially an exterminator of people who have decided they have had enough of life.
The End Specialist works best as an allegory for our own obsession with materialism and the growing levels of isolationism and loneliness that social networks are creating.
It’s a wry look at the way society is going and Magary deserves immense credit for creating a tale that isn’t afraid to ask difficult questions, regardless of the consequences of the answers.
***** Paddy Ryan