“Starry night, Cassandra? Do you have a fever? In this city we don’t have stars in the sky, they are all on TV!! In the sky we have only clouds and pollution. And lights…and flights. Helicopters… Ok, maybe one or another star…but starry night? You’re really a city girl Cassandra, that sees a couple of stars between clouds and calls it…Starry night! One day you should travel to the desert or to the mountains…and see what a real starry sky is…”
The forecast for “Reality” Television in the late 90’s and early 2000’s seemed promising when young twenty-something’s were doing what young twenty-something’s typically do. The idea of voyeurism became more acceptable and to actually watch other people drink, fight, have sex, and do it all over again with a whole new host of crazy characters became as habitual to what once was wholesome Saturday morning viewing. Perhaps it was the idea of providing an escape or character to identify with that was kicking in or just the uniqueness that was presiding over the schedules of mainstream television networks, to me there was something more sinister at play. Over time we have seen a steady progression (or regression), however you want to look at it that was pushing viewers to their levels of engagement as well as their limits of consumption. From low self-esteem women getting drastic plastic surgeries performed only to be judged by a panel, we have seen the monumental showdown of man vs. beast, we have seen celebrities high-diving (like ice skating wasn’t enough), and last but certainly not least, we have seen the struggles of being 16 and pregnant. My question to everybody is where do we go from here? Well in Haidji’s book Suicide Game she provides an answer that makes it seem that we’re actually not far off from realizing a sick and twisted new source of television entertainment, but one that we can’t get enough of.
Suicide Game turns death into a vehicle for reaching your dreams and influencing others. While in the game you can prove to people that you’re just like everyone else by trusting the power that you possess and spitting in life’s face. The game provides a showcase for the ideal that death can be the only option to complete purity and that you alone can’t alter the course of your own destiny. Truly it’s not much different than the motivations of today, except for these people they get to do it with a truly global audience that puts the series finale of M*A*S*H to shame. Most people address similar issues with no audience, imagine having thousands in attendance and millions of people watching at home………..lllllllllllllllets get ready to jump offfffffffffffff. With a tournament style format where the strength of a wire determines whether you move on to the next step, 8000 candidates will dwindle down to 1 sole survivor that will live in eternal glory. All 8000 of the candidates have their own reasons for joining, but after makeup takes care of them and they’re given their daily dose, no one in attendance will know the difference and the apathetic and listless suicide freaks will soon forget why they’re even there to begin with.
“That one variable – the technology plan, left to him – gave him the opening he needed. Nobody would or could check his handiwork; there were no ‘quality control’ men in white lab coats. His idea was simple. Inspired by a chameleon that change its guts on the inside, not its colors on the outside.”
The corpses and the legacy of the candidates is said to live on forever through the manufacturing of a diamond to be worn on someone’s finger, an added sum of money in a lucky bettors bank account, or as an organ donor for the needy. Very positive end to an otherwise tragic conclusion, well that’s what the powers that be would want you to believe. In truth bodies are never allowed to be retained by their loved ones, they are sold to the highest bidder, their belongings are dispersed among the wicked and greedy crowd. This book will obviously draw comparisons to The Hunger Games, but I would also like to mention Stephen King’s The Running Man; with the characters personal choice of involvement being a big distinction between the two, and a Japanese film called Suicide Club which also had a J-Pop band that had a big presence and a general happiness involved with the people giving up there lives for what seems like unethical reasons through the lens of a 2017 eye.
The author spends most of her time going back and forth between present day during the commencement ceremony of the Suicide Game in the Night Stadium to commentary on some of the candidates in the form of mini chronicles. It’s a good way to get to know the characters but a bad way for a readers retention. I actually enjoyed these snippets of the characters lives as it highlighted their lives pre-Suicide Game and demonstrated their independent reasons for joining. In Suicide Game at times characters are developed fast and furiously but ultimately are left in the end to be forgotten. As you progress there is a level of understanding, but as you hit the climax you find yourself wondering; who was that again? what were they about? I can’t help but feel that a lot was lost in translation and plenty of the back story was lacking to produce any more than a opinion that this story was a mere replica of a trendy and already written young adult saga. For a person that promotes themselves as a literary practitioner I had a difficult time showcasing their talents byway of quotes that I found to be of importance for the story or compliment the author’s talent. My sole purpose for quoting stories is not to exploit a weakness, it’s to expose a strength and with this story I had a difficult time dog-earring pages. I do believe that a lot of younger readers will find a benefit reading this novel as a means to increase their literary maturity due to the feelings that it stirs up during times of reflection. But for more experienced readers I would suggest looking elsewhere. In the end I believe this book failed to deliver on the promise that it showed from reading the summary and other blurbs while also lacking any literary punch to complement the weight of the subject matter.
“Life is made by decisions. We make decisions every day in our lives about almost everything around us. What we eat for breakfast, what we will wear, what way we will take. Once a decision repeats, it turns into a habit, and habits can become vicious; without leaving a note inside your mind, they take the upper hand in your life and turn themselves into basic needs.”