Review: Stay Younger Longer by Ryan Hyatt
Synopsis for Stay Younger Longer
By 2046, California has emerged from a catastrophic earthquake as a shining star among nations, providing sustainable technology and hope to a dying world. The breakout Republic is caught in a power struggle between China, triumphant in the Oil Wars, and the United States, desperate to maintain its global spotlight.
Not everyone is convinced the Golden State is evolving into the paradise its leaders promise. Dick White is an earthquake orphan whose childhood wanderings lead him to Venice Beach as an adult, where he tries to make sense of his reckless bachelor life. His news column, Utopian Schemes, pokes fun at the Eco-Socialist regime, which he believes is transforming the ascendant Republic into a police state.
Dick is dragged into controversy when he covers the funeral of Maggie Droeger, famed actress and wife of the Los Angeles district attorney. Maggie was a Euphoria addict, and the popular nanonarcotic, widely used to stave off aging, is becoming a source of public concern. Maggie’s high-profile death spurs rumors that Euphoria is a biological weapon designed to kill users, and soon Dick’s efforts to uncover the drug’s true purpose may save or destroy countless lives, including his own.
Set in a future rife with strife, Stay Younger Longer explores a world where hearts and minds become the final battleground for progress.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book in any way.
Stay Younger Longer is Ryan Hyatt’s second novel, placed in the not-so-distant future Republic of California. His protagonist, Dick White, is a reporter on the trail of a scandal concerning Euphoria, the newest craze in illicit pharmaceuticals. As twisty as that trail ends up being, I found myself confused – not by the plot, but by the tone and purpose of the book. At times it reads exactly like an old noir film, complete with lines like ‘Jackie was a broken bird and she was looking to me to help her fly again’, but at others it comes across with that surrealistic Chuck Palahniuk vibe that defines works like Fight Club.
Focused on consumerism, superficiality, and the absurd, Stay Younger Longer was at time a hard read. While I have in the past enjoyed such things – Divine Misfortune, recently, is a great example – this book seems to lack a bit of the subtlety that makes such things comedic and enjoyable. I did thoroughly enjoy many of the concepts introduced in Stay Younger Longer, though – particularly the eco-fascist regime of California and the floating labor camps of the Discs are so overblown as to be amusing and interesting.
By and large, I found the protagonist to be serviceable, if a little distasteful (though how much of that comes from the character and how much comes from the writing itself, which at times read a bit too ‘bro’-y) and the other characters were fine, if a bit unmemorable. Where the novel really excelled, though, was the last third, where the action comes fast. Overall, the book is well-paced, starting off at a stately clip and then accelerating to an explosive conclusion. I was definitely never bored reading Stay Younger Longer!