“Six foot three without my Sketchers. One-hundred and fifty-four pounds with my Sketchers. Long, dark hair—clean. Blue beanie. White T-shirt and drift pants. Carrying a skateboard with Cult Centrifuge wheels.”
So I took a dive down Amazon’s dystopian best-seller list and found this gem: End Man by Alex Austin. This is a slick, fast-paced cyberpunk thriller that I highly recommend!
At the heart of End Man is Raphael Lennon. Working for a mega online-data collection company, Raphael hunts down “possums” – that is, people who fake their own deaths in an attempt to disappear. When a person dies, this company gathers all their personal data — an entire lifetime’s worth — then profits from it. So when a person seems to die but doesn’t actually die — that’s a problem.
The thing about Raphael, though, is he suffers from dromophobia, the fear of crossing streets. This has forced him to spend his entire life in the Wilshire-Fairfax district of Los Angeles, which, having lived in LA for a bit, isn’t a bad place to be stuck. Fun fact: the La Brea tarpits play a crucial role in this novel, which you might remember from the movie Last Action Hero… Nice.
So in the spirit of classic mystery noirs, Raphael investigates one such possum that ends up uprooting his entire life. This possum is the brilliant physicist Jason Klaes. And from here, things get wilder and wilder. And Raphael keeps getting dragged deeper and deeper into the mystery. This is one of those books where, when everything starts clicking together, IT’S SO MUCH FUN.
And that’s probably the best description I can give this book: fun. And thought-provoking. This book makes you think about what actually will happen to all of our online data after we die, like ghosts haunting the internet. It’s also got a cool punk-rock/skater aesthetic that I wasn’t expecting but was quite refreshing. Oh, and the author weaves art into the story. And that’s cool too.
So, yeah. End Man by Alex Austin. Check it out.
End Man (Cursed Dragon Ship Publishing, 2022) is available to purchase here. And you can find Alex Austin here — as always, thanks for reading!