REVIEW: 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America by Albert Brooks

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars, Genre: General Fiction, Pages: 375, Level: Easy

Book Description from Barnes & Noble:

“Is this what’s in store?

June 12, 2030 started out like any other day in memory- and by then, memories were long. Since cancer had been cured fifteen years before, America’s population was aging rapidly. That sounds like good news, but consider this: millions of baby boomers, with a big natural predator picked off, were sucking dry benefits and resources that were never meant to hold them into their eighties and beyond. Young people around the country simmered with resentment toward “the olds” and anger at the treadmill they could never get off of just to maintain their parents’ entitlement programs.

But on that June 12th, everything changed: a massive earthquake devastated Los Angeles, and the government, always teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, was unable to respond.

The fallout from the earthquake sets in motion a sweeping novel of ideas that pits national hope for the future against assurances from the past and is peopled by a memorable cast of refugees and billionaires, presidents and revolutionaries, all struggling to find their way. In 2030, Albert Brooks’ all-too-believable, dystopian imagining of where today’s challenges could lead us tomorrow makes gripping and thought-provoking reading.”

2030 represents amazing advancements in many areas:

  • Government provides universal healthcare
  • Cancer has been cured
  • A pill covered by healthcare has almost erased obesity
  • Advances in vehicles have decreased fatal accidents
  • Life expectancy in most is 100+

Sounds amazing, right? Well let’s look at the unintended consequences:

  • Senior citizens, many who no longer work but only collect government benefits, now make up the largest voting block
  • There are not enough younger workers to support government’s social programs, the most prominent being universal healthcare
  • Younger individuals now have an insurmountable financial burden that just increases as the years go by
  • College is so expensive that only the elite attend
  • The national debt has increased beyond belief
  • Young Americans are becoming dangerously resentful and hate crimes are now committed against senior citizens

The United States is at a breaking point when the big one hits southern California and China refuses to loan the government more money. However, China proposes an alternative, something that was never even imagined.

I guess 2030 would best be categorized as Speculative Fiction. While the outcome is different, the tone is much like the movie Idiocracy. By the way, if you haven’t seen Idiocracy, look it up. It’s pretty funny. 2030 is not a blockbuster, but has the potential to be a cult classic. It is an extremely intelligent book filled with dry humor. One of my favorite parts is when a newly elected president is asked if he has any questions:

“My God,” Bernstein said. “Are you kidding? Where do I start?”

“Fire away, Mr. President-elect. We’re at your service”

“Okay. Here’s something I’ve always wondered. Did spacemen ever land here? What was Area Fifty-one?”

The man in the suit laughed.

“That’s almost everyone’s first question…”

I recently re-read World War Z and one of the characters comments, “… what is your country’s fetish for Area 51, anyway?” p43. Too funny.

I’ll admit the book started out a little slow. It wasn’t until the big one hits on page 46 that the story seems to pick up a bit and gets better and better as it progresses. When I got to the last 100 pages, I couldn’t put the book down. I initially considered giving it 3 stars, but the more I thought about it, the better the book got. Yes, it is one of those books. It sounds a little strange, but those usually end up being my favorite books. It hasn’t made my top ten but maybe with time… we’ll see.

There is a lot of warped humor in 2030 as well. When addressing how hate crimes against the olds are handled:

There was no mercy in China for killing the olds… Thousands of Chinese soldiers had been sent to put down this revolution before it ever got started. Young people were put in jail for life or killed or tortured, and it was shown to every schoolchild in the country. China was big on “this could happen to you,” and, for all intents and purposes, it worked. p196

Just the absurdity of your kid coming home from school to tell you he or she watched a torture video was dementedly funny.

Euthanasia is also a minor issue in the story, not always without its humor:

The matter went before the Supreme Court in 2020, but in a five-four decision they threw it back to the states, and it remained in the same gray area it always had. Certain states looked the other way and other states just banned it. Oregon was the most lenient and, for a time, so many people went there to end their lives that the tourist bureau seriously thought about using that as an incentive. One of the slogans they tossed around was “See Oregon before you die.” But better heads prevailed and they decided that advertising for a snuff job was a little crass. p71

One of the most interesting things about Brooks’ work is that I can’t figure out if it is anti-liberal or anti-conservative. He makes fun of both government run amuck and corporations run amuck. No one is sacred. In addition, the reader gets love, hate, death, injury, natural disasters, marriage, infidelity and really good Chinese food.

While 2030 is not laugh out loud funny, it is quite entertaining. However it takes a certain type of person to appreciate it. Please don’t consider this an insult to anyone; it has nothing to do with intelligence, but rather taste. Bottom line, while I enjoyed it enough to want my own copy one day, don’t be surprised if you do not get into it. Regardless, I give it a thumbs up.

Reviewed by Christina

3 thoughts on “REVIEW: 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America by Albert Brooks

  1. Update: I bought my own copy. Hardcover, library bound, used. Not to mention the several brand new hardcover copies that I intend to give as Christmas presents. This is totally an appropriate Christmas present, right?

  2. Pingback: REVIEW: Truth’s Blood by Tyler Roberts « Book Expectations

  3. Pingback: Book Expectations

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