This is the first novel and SF thriller by David Oppegaard, who hails from Minnesota.
The Story: Over the course of five years, 90 percent of Earth’s population has been wiped out by a plague of suicides known as the Despair. The few survivors, who do not know why people started killing themselves or why they were spared, eke out a living among the ruins while trying to avoid the Collectors, the mysterious, black-robed figures who collect the bodies of the dead. When Norman, a survivor living in what’s left of a small Florida town, kills one of the Collectors, he and his friend Pops flee. They head for Seattle, where a cure for the Despair is perhaps being developed. But the Collectors have placed a bounty on Norman’s head, ensuring that his and Pops’s journey will be anything but easy.
St. Martin’s Press. 304 pages. $23.95. ISBN: 0312381107
"The Suicide Collectors blends horror with drama and traces of the fantastic (futuristic technology, supernatural elements), and adds a unique twist to the post-apocalyptic blueprint. … The Suicide Collectors reminded me somewhat of The Stand, Robert R. McCammon’s Swan Song, The Road, and various other post-apocalyptic tales in the way that it observes such familiar themes as life, death, the resiliency of the human spirit, religion, etc., but possesses enough distinguishing features of its own to ensure a worthwhile reading experience." Robert Thompson
"While The Suicide Collectors has the flippant dialogue and nonstop thrills of an action movie, Oppegaard addresses the emotional costs of suicide seriously. … As always with the best science fiction, The Suicide Collectors takes a real-world phenomenon to its logical conclusion." Rachel Hartigan Shea
"[The Suicide Collectors is] all written in a stark, pulpy style with the occasional stab at literariness. … The urge to self-destruct is always present, in every character you meet, which amps the tension and makes a miracle of mere survival." Charlie Jane Anders
Reviewers were intrigued by the setup of Oppegaard’s story and reasonably satisfied with the conclusion. The device of the Despair, they wrote, allows the author to use the best element of the postapocalyptic genre while keeping the story fresh. Critics were also clearly affected by the images that populate Oppegaard’s sorrowful world: not just the grim gallery of ways people kill themselves but the many strategies they develop to deal with the aftermath. While no reviewer was completely happy with the plot’s subsequent development, they still recommended the book and hoped to see more from Oppegaard soon.