As a reviewer for the Catholic Writers Guild I was given the opportunity to read a new book by author Michelle Buckman called Death Panels: A Novel of Life, Liberty and Faith.. The title certainly sounded intriguing. Before reading it I had wondered if it would be high on polemics concerning medical boards and low on a worthwhile story line. I soon found this was not a concern at all as I quickly got pulled into the story and raced through the book following the characters and plot.
In some ways it reminded me of Monsignor’s Robert Hugh Benson Lord of the World which is a dystopian novel of the end times. This novel starts in a future of 2042 that in some ways has some of same facets of Lord of the World, but without the eschatological aspects. The future is the bottom of that slippery slope where bureaucracies take over healthcare decisions and more and more power is taken from the individual and transferred to the government. The Culture of Death is in full force and both the start and end of life is under attack. Modern tolerance reaches its ultimate conclusion where nothing is actually tolerated and Christians are living on reservations called a Dominian. The main character comes from such a Dominian and is illegally in the city where circumstances put him on the run trying to save a life.
So while the story correctly critiques socialized medicine and people giving up more and more rights to the government, the novel primarily succeeds as a story. I liked the characters who I found believable and the thread of hope throughout despite the dire overtones. Simply a very good novel which also contains solid commentary on where we are heading if we don’t stand up for the Culture of Life. We already have Christian arrested for preaching the Gospel to Muslims. The continuing horror of abortion and threat of euthanasia. Judges trying to force same-sex marriage on us. So the future this novel shows is unfortunately not that far off, but also not inevitable.
When I first wrote this review the novel was not yet released, but it was released last week.