A tragic love story set in a dystopian future, where some people – but not everyone – can live forever

Eva Thorne as she approaches her 200th birthday

In the future, disease and aging have been eradicated, so people can live forever. With eternal life a reality and the population of the world still growing, someone has to decide who gets to survive and for how long. Everyone is allowed to live until their 200th birthday, at which point they’re taken off to an evaluation centre, where a psychologist can decide whether they should become a millennial – someone allowed to live for a thousand years – or quietly disposed of.

This is the intriguing premise behind 200. The story revolves around Eva Thorne, a woman on the cusp of her 200th birthday. Her life partner has already passed his 200th birthday but never returned from his evaluation, so Eva presumed him dead and is resigned to her own termination. However, as she’s on her way to her death sentence, she thinks she catches a glimpse of her boyfriend, and if he’s still alive, she wants to survive, too.

Eva Thorne in a threatening mood in 200

It’s an interesting proposition but isn’t particularly well executed in this book. The world Thorne inhabits is too narrow, the characters around her too underdeveloped to make it coherent and believable. I wanted to be sucked into the detail of how this world worked, but it had more of a feeling of being made up as we went along, rather than giving the impression of this being one small story in a convincing universe.

The problem is doubled by its association with the art, which I felt lacked sophistication. This isn’t a problem in and of itself but I found it off-putting in this situation. The story and the setting are a bit way-out, so the piece would have benefitted from art that could better ground it in a believable world. I found artist Jules Rivera’s interpretation of this world to be wholly unconvincing.

I’m usually a total sucker for a bit of extrapolative speculation but this didn’t do it for me. I suspect it’s because there’s an element of romance that permeates the story that failed to penetrate my heart: I just didn’t fall in love with it.

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