After a slightly slow start during
which Buckley introduces his characters, provides
them with motive and generally lays the groundwork,
Boomsday develops into a mischievously
farcical tangled-web of generational warfare and
political backstabbing, set against the background
of the failing Social Security system and the
general collapse of the American economy.
At the center of Buckley's large cast of mostly rotten to the core characters is 29-year-old Cassandra - fervent blogger by night, cynical spin-doctor by day. Supporting roles are played by her father, who squandered her college fund to finance his now obscenely successful Silicon Valley startup; WASP playboy Randy, who finds purpose in his cocaine-addled life by going into politics and is now gunning for president; a French-Catholic Bishop in good favor with the Vatican due to his ability to smooth-talk wealthy widows; and an ardent pro-lifer who "carries his own bully pulpit" wherever he goes.
Making up the chorus line are "the masses", the Boomer generation who think that "three-day ground instead of overnight air delivery on your fifty inch plasma screen high-def TV." is the definition of sacrifice; and their younger counterparts, Generation Whatever. All are brought into play by Cassandra's late night blog entry (reminiscent of Swift's Modest Proposal) in which she suggests, tongue in cheek, that all those over 70 years should be given the incentive to "voluntarily transition"; and if they go at 65 they'll get a two-week all expenses paid farewell thrown in as an added bonus.
One reviewer opines that a novel built around the premise that Social Security becomes the key issue in a Presidential race stretches credibility too far as "the idea that such a movement could be a hot-button issue in a presidential race is so silly that Boomsday's momentum begins to dissipate before the midway point."
What a sad reflection that is on our political process! Granted, at the moment the majority of the Western world seem to have their collective heads in the sand about the state of their respective country's social security systems, but it seems all too plausible that this will change when the long predicted day actually arrives when the current system reaches breaking point - requiring either a substantial increase in Social Security payments by the 2-3 workers supporting each retiree, or substantially reduced payments to retirees, or both! A date that will come some time after 2008, when the Baby Boomer generation starts to retire.
Did you know?
The first person to receive monthly social security benefits was Ida May Fuller from Vermont, who retired in November 1939 and started collecting benefits in January 1940 at age 65. In the three years that Fuller worked under the program, she contributed a total of $24.75. Her first benefit check was for $22.54 and she went on collecting benefits for 35 years, until 1975, when she died at age 100 having collected over $22,000.
This review was originally published in April 2007, and has been updated for the May 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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