Actor Albert Brooks has fun imagining a world in the future—though not too far in the future to be wholly implausible.
Crises abound in 2030, ranging from a failed health-care system to massive national debt ($3 trillion dollars just to pay the interest) to a major earthquake that levels Los Angeles. Even seemingly good things have downsides. Dr. Sam Mueller, for example, discovered a cure for cancer, but that led to greater longevity amongst the "olds" (i.e., those over 70), and now the younger generation is resentful that they have to spend considerable sums taking care of the elderly. In fact, there have been numerous terrorist attacks against the olds. Resentment simmers, especially in Max Leonard, a terrorist manquÃÂ© who winds up hijacking theÃÂ Sunset, a ship carrying seniors from port to port, an event that electrifies the 100 million members of the AARP. The L.A. earthquake requires such massive infusions of money that the federal government (headed by Matt Bernstein, the first Jewish president) enters into partnership with China, a country that knows how to rebuild fast and efficiently. Shen Li, the leader of this reconstruction effort, becomes so popular that an influential senator (and Shen Li's father-in-law) works to amend the Constitution to allow Li to become president (after Bernstein's marriage fails and it's clear he won't get another term).
The tone is satiric, something Brooks usually does with a light touch, though occasionally he loses the playfulness and shows too heavy a hand.Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Yes, that's actor/director Brooks, launching his fiction career with an unusually sober book. In the near future, cancer has been cured; old folks keep on living, and the younger generation resents being stuck with the bill. Then, on June 12, 2030, an earthquake all but obliterates Los Angeles, and the government is too stretched financially to respond. Tough questions; I'd look into this one.[Page 84]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Well known for his film and television work (e.g., Broadcast News), comedian, actor, and director Brooks has written a first novel, a futuristic story about America in the year 2030. Like many debuts, it has its share of weaknesses, mostly in terms of character development and plotting. Nonetheless, there is much here to engage readers. What is most stimulating is the future Brooks has imagined for America: cancer has been cured, and technology has extended life expectancy in miraculous ways, but America is hopelessly in debt, beset with the ravages of global warming, and dominated politically by AARP and a massive senior population. Bleak economic prospects have turned young people against "the olds" and have inspired acts of domestic terrorism. Some of this is predictable, of course, given current conditions in the United States, but Brooks has built in enough twists and surprises here to keep things interesting. VERDICT Despite some flaws, this is an intriguing vision of America's future. Recommended for fans of futuristic dystopian fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 11/8/10.]--Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT[Page 76]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Comedian and filmmaker Brooks welcomes the reader to the year 2030 in his smart and surprisingly serious debut. Cancer has been cured, global warming is an acknowledged reality, people have robot companions, and the president is a Jew--and oy vey does he have his hands full with an earthquake-leveled Los Angeles and a growing movement by the young to exterminate the elderly. And when the Chinese offer to rebuild L.A. in exchange for a half-ownership stake in Southern California, President Bernstein is faced with a decision that will alter the future of America. Brooks's sweeping narrative encompasses a diverse cast of characters, including an 80-year-old Angelino left homeless by the earthquake, a trust fund brat with a grudge against the elderly, and a teenage girl saddled with debt after her father's death, all of whom get brought together just in time for a climactic hostage crisis. Brooks's mordant vision encompasses the future of politics, medicine, entertainment, and daily living, resulting in a novel as entertaining as it is thought provoking, like something from the imagination of a borscht belt H.G. Wells (May)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC