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Buyout Paperback – March 31, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this neat, high-concept thriller, Irvine (The Narrows) introduces us to L.A. in the year 2040, where global warming and high-tech identity theft are daily facts of life. Martin Kindred, a mid-level insurance executive, works for a company pioneering a radical new prison cost-cutting program. Convicts serving life without parole are offered millions of dollars in exchange for immediately taking the needle, and Martin is tasked with vetting the prisoners for execution and presenting the awards to their beneficiaries. The controversial program immediately revitalizes the pro-life movement and puts increased strains on Martin's already fragile marriage. Then Martin's brother, a cop, is murdered and both the program and his life begin to unravel. This well-written, suspenseful and just slightly absurdist novel will appeal strongly to fans of classic dystopian science fiction with a smooth modern twist. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Painfully honest and not necessarily apt to think things through, Martin Kindred is the only man in his family who isn’t a cop. He has a lot to prove, he thinks, and being hired to be the front man for life-term buyouts seems like the perfect opportunity. “Life-term buyouts?” With ever-rising prison populations, the only solution seems to be privatization. The question then becomes how to make a profit. The answer is simple: offer those serving life without parole early buyouts; that is, give the prisoner millions for any specified beneficiary in exchange for accepting lethal injection. Martin is buyout’s public face, who reaps the benefits of attendant popularity but takes the fall when things go wrong. The political underpinnings of the buyout system start to come clear when Martin lets it get personal. Irvine expertly manages an atmosphere of pressure and political machination to complement the development of a discomfiting imagined future. --Regina Schroeder

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Original edition (March 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345494334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345494337
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,592,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alex Irvine has written more than thirty books, both his own original fiction (Buyout, The Narrows, Mystery Hill, A Scattering of Jades) and licensed work for Marvel, Hasbro, Warner Brothers, Fox, Blizzard, Legendary, and other international entertainment companies. He has also written comics (Daredevil Noir, Iron Man: Rapture, Hellstorm, Son of Satan: Equinox), games, and animation. The three games he's currently writing -- Marvel Avengers Alliance, Marvel War of Heroes, and Marvel PuzzleQuest -- together have totaled more than 75 million players. Before leaving to write full time, he spent six years as an English professor at the University of Maine. A native of Ypsilanti, Michigan, he lives in South Portland, Maine, with his wife and three children...and two dogs, a bird, a snake and a fish. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook.

Favorite writers, in no particular order: Cervantes, Borges, Murakami, Dick, Pynchon, Herriman, Chaucer, Kelly. Ask me again tomorrow, the list would be slightly different.

Some favorite books, not written by people on the previous list (but all written by people who might have been on the list on a different day), and again in no particular order: Sarah Canary, Gould's Book of Fish, Geek Love, Midnight's Children, Song of Solomon...

More at Twitter (@alexirvine) and Facebook.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Zachary Cole on April 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
"Buyout" tells us the story of Martin Kindred, a California man whose white-collar job bores and stifles him. Seemingly out of nowhere, he is offered the opportunity to take charge on a project. Specifically he's asked to become to spokesperson for a new corporate-run program of "buyout". California inmates serving a life sentence without parole are given to chance to give millions of dollars to any person or charity they wish. The trade-off: the inmate must allow the company to execute them (the so-called "Golden Needle") within forty-eight hours. Killing these prisoners saves the company many more millions of dollars (since the average prisoner serving a life sentence serves sixty years behind bars.)

Martin's personality is what drew me into the book. He is not a fearless hero or hyper-intelligent skeptic. Martin is an idealist in heart and forces himself to believe that buyouts are morally justified, even as his friends and family begin to voice their doubts.

Without giving too much away, the book's basic question becomes this: how hard is it to distance yourself from a cause or a belief you've committed yourself to, even when you know that clinging to this belief might ruin you? Additionally, sprinkled through the book are the musings of one Walt Dangerfield, a free-wheeling, off-the-cuff podcaster or sorts who comments on the novel's characters and fleshes out the novel's futuristic world, similar to our own in all the worst ways.

I really recommend this book to any college course or reading group that's interested in exploring issues of morality. Recently, my Ethics class used "Buyout" to examine issues of the sanctity of life and capital punishment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Zielinski on March 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
With great characters and a makes-ya-think central idea in a very viable near-future, Alex Irvine has written a book that caught me off guard. I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed this title by an author I'd sadly never heard of. My thanks to Spectra for sending me the book in a giveaway that I won on their Facebook page.

I see Buyout as two types of books at once. First, it's an idea book. In the year 2040, the company Nautilus has pioneered a radical and controversial new way to deal with overcrowded prisons and the high costs of imprisoning those serving life without parole: offer them a buyout. Pay them to take the "Golden Needle" and end their lives. They receive a sum of money based on the expected would-be costs of their life imprisonment, and they get to decide how to distribute this money anyway they wish though they are encouraged to use it as a means to atone for their crimes. Donate it to charity. Give it to the family of your victims. Setup a college fund for needy kids. But opponents to buyouts see this as placing a monetary value on human life. And they're not exactly wrong, in my opinion. See, it's a big idea.

The second type of book I see this as is a character study. With many rules and restrictions that buyouts need to precisely follow, Martin Kindred is the man in charge of choosing viable candidates for buyouts and for making sure that they go by-the-book. And as a by-the-book kinda guy, he's perfect for the job. We get to see Martin go through a lot of hard times. His marriage is crumbling. His position with Nautilus is putting him and his family in the spotlight and not in a good way. We learn that his career decisions have made him a perpetual outsider to his family of career cops.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on March 31, 2009
Format: Paperback
In 2040 Los Angeles middle management insurance executive Martin Kindred works for Antelope Valley Casualty, a firm seeking to increase profit margin after a fiscally disastrous 2039. The brass comes up with a terrific reengineering solution to cut government costs and obtain revenue by eliminating overcrowding in prisons caused by the increase over the past few decades to 22 crimes leading to automatic life sentences without freeing the incarcerated. The beneficiaries of lifers with no chance for parole will receive millions if the convict opts for immediate death.

Martin is assigned the task of preparing the prisoner-volunteer for execution and subsequently giving the check to their survivors. The once dead pro-life movement resurfaces in a furor over the cold hearted bottom line execution. Martin finds himself caught in the crosshairs, which impact his marriage. However, his neutrality collapses when his brother the cop is murdered.

Using hyperbole to extrapolate America's second greatest growth industry during the Bush Administration, the warehousing zealousness of convicts (military contractors were first), Alexander C. Irvine provides a profound futuristic parable. The story line leaves the audience questioning the prison system especially privatization in which the government pays by the number of prisoners incarcerated. BUYOUT is a well written dark winner using trend analysis exaggerated into the future to provide a solution to America's fondness for prison warehousing

Harriet Klausner
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joanpau Rubies on June 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
You might find this a little slow, but this novel offers what SF used to do and should keep doing: a literary treatment of important human issues in relation to mankind's present dilemmas, by extrapolating realistically towards the future. It offers no evasion into fantasy land or implausible space opera, but rather the kind of thing Aldous Huxley, Philip K.Dick or (more recently) Paolo Bacigalupi have been doing. The resolution is a little uncertain, lacks economy and has some other flaws, but the core idea of the buyout is worked out very realistically. Not a literary classic, but as SF goes highly recommended.
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