VIRTUALLY YOURS, JONATHAN NEWMAN by Robert Rosell

VIRTUALLY YOURS, JONATHAN NEWMAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

To provide for his family in an America run by libertarianism, a man becomes a living organ farm for a large medical corporation.

In the not-too-distant future, the charismatic Enrico Prima and the Freedom First party have transformed America into a libertarian country where big corporations rule. In order to pay his son’s growing health care expenses in this uncaring society, Jonathan Newman is forced to take a lucrative but horrific job with the medical conglomerate QualLab. As their new “employee,” Jonathan is strapped to a table that will mine and sell his body for fluids and tissues over the next two years, all the while isolating him from his family. Rosell’s debut tosses the reader headfirst into the antiseptic world of Jonathan’s QualLab cell, with effective imagery recalling works like Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange. Obviously political, the novel is respectably transparent with its leanings (take its slogan “and life is no tea party”), and even as a partisan cautionary tale the plot is never sacrificed for its message. The novel’s greatest strength is its world-building, hypothesizing the horrors of an unregulated free market and the nuance and gaudiness of such a system. In the spirit of good future histories, the book employs excellent foreshadowing, revealing the cracks in its world gradually, while organically introducing the reader not just to this new America, but also showing the ways in which the country was changed so dramatically. It falls short in places—the novel’s use of footnotes feels uninspired, as much of their information could have been fed naturally into the narrative and better served the story overall. Also the circumstances that allowed Enrico Prima to lead America into a libertarian dystopia are a little too vague, even with liberal suspension of disbelief. There are a few smaller problems—cliché villains and trite sexual situations, but this feels like nitpicking since Rosell’s novel is a consistently fun read with a strong message at its core.

Occasionally shallow, but absolutely entertaining.

 

Pub Date: July 21st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1461157458
Page count: 325pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2011




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