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The Suicide Collectors Paperback – November 24, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (November 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312586507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312586508
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,548,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Eloquent prose and haunting characters lift Oppegaar's astonishing debut, an SF thriller with some eerie similarities to M. Night Shyamala's film about mass suicide, The Happening. In the near future, 90% of the world's population have killed themselves due to a plague called the Despair. The only people energized by the nightmare are the Collectors, who after each suicide appear like carrion birds to collect the corpse. Only one man resists the Collectors. When the wife of a 34-year-old Floridian named Norman takes a fatal overdose of sleeping pills, Norman loads his shotgun and waits patiently before blowing the head off a Collector who arrives to claim the body. Norman and his neighbor, Franklin Pops Conway, head for Seattle after learning a doctor there may have found a cure for the Despair. In Kansas, theyre joined by Zero, an 11-year-old girl whose bravery encourages Norman in his quest. While the story may be too bleak for many readers, the ending holds out some hope. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

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.
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

The ending was completely unsatisfying to me.
Christina Fierro
Unfortunately, as happens so many times, the author didn't bother putting as much thought into the ending as he did the main body of the story.
W. Partipilo
And like all good Science fiction stories, it works as a parable for the woes of present time.
Casey B. Briskin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Whitt Patrick Pond TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
David Oppegaard's The Suicide Collectors is a very impressive first novel, so much so that it was nominated for the prestigious Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. While it falls into a well known sub-category of speculative fiction, that of the road trip across a once-familiar country devastated by some calamity, Oppegaard makes it all fresh with memorable characters and with a unique and highly original premise for the calamity.

In Oppegaard's dystopia, the world has been plagued for the past five years by a mysterious phenomenon called The Despair, an affliction of unknown origins and unknown transmission that has somehow driven over ninety percent of the world's population to commit suicide. Added to this devastating phenomenon is the simultaneous appearance of the "suicide collectors" of the title, mysterious silent black-robed people that somehow always show up whenever someone commits suicide, taking the bodies away to no one knows where.

Norman, a man who loses his wife to suicide at the novel's opening, upsets things by killing one of the Collectors when they come for his wife's body. The road trip begins when Norman and the only other survivor in their small Florida town, a elderly Mr. Fixit neighbor named Pops, take off for Seattle on the rumor that a community still thrives there and that a scientist there is working on a cure for The Despair. The trip, and the memorable characters they meet and pick up on the way, most notably a young girl named Zero, are what really drive the best part of the novel.

On the plus side, Oppegaard's style reads quite well and the pace never lags.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Brunner on January 9, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This novel was so polished and well written. I waited for six months before I bought this book, because the price was so expensive. After reading it, I am struck with how moving it was. The saying that it goes out with not a bang but a wimper really describes this book. Norman is a man who lives through an epidemic of almost everyone he knows committing suicide. The book begins with his wife's suicide, which starts off a chain of events throughout the rest of the book. They have managed to live through the despair for a few years. Norman refuses to let the collectors, which are a group of people who collect the dead, take his wife. In the process, he kills one of them. He is the only person up to this point to have done so. This starts him off on a journey to Seattle to find the cure. The central theme to this novel is hope. Norman is a ray of hope in a word that is cut off from hope. As someone who has had depression her entire life, I found this novel haunting and beautiful. It spoke to me. This is an author to watch. I gave it 4 stars because the ending was not expanded as well as I would have liked, but I understand why the ending was the way it was.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Media Man VINE VOICE on July 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Suicide Collectors was an enjoyable and quick read but I found it lacking. The author does a good job of describing and drawing you into the post apocalyptic world of mass suicides. The Collectors are described just enough to make you continue to wonder exactly what they are. I found myself wishing the author would have spent a bit more time in the towns/areas the characters stopped in. But I also was glad that the story moved along at a steady pace. I found the ending however a severe let down. It felt like the author ran out of ideas and tried to be as vague as possible so as to not explain anything.


+ Well described setting. The author goes a good job at describing a bleak and desolate future.


- Vague and Disappointing ending.

An interesting post-apocalyptic book overall but unfortunately easily forgotten.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Christina Fierro on February 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I am a great fan of apocalyptic fiction, so I was eager to read The Suicide Collectors. The premise has so much potential, but the execution was lacking. Many times I was thrown out of the narrative by the actions (or inactions) of the characters. How is it that food is so abundant and readily available? Like another reviewer mentioned, the water supply and infrastructure is still intact? Embarking upon a cross country trip over lawless lands with the shadowy Collectors possibly out for revenge and you don't think to bring your shotgun? Each new character does not need to tell their life story in a three page info dump. And having the main character pull something out of his pocket that is important, but never mentioned before in the novel is an annoyance and a bit of a cheat.

At just under 300 pages, the book is a quick read. Not all stories need to be door stoppers, but this felt too rushed. I would have liked more conflict in the story and fewer coincidences. The journey to Seattle and what Norman experienced when he got there could have benefited from more description. The ending was completely unsatisfying to me. Perhaps because by the time I got there, I was reading just to get to the end, not because I *needed* to know what happened to the characters. McCarthy's The Road was around the same length, yet I felt it had more substance and was more frightening and emotionally wrenching.

Having said that, there were several good and spooky things about this novel. The image of the house made of feathers. The initial appearance of the Collectors. The rats in the tunnels.

Overall, I appreciate Mr. Oppegaard's efforts. The basic story is thought-provoking and I have a feeling that it will stay with me for a while. I look forward to seeing his future work. Hopefully he will fulfill my expectations.
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More About the Author

David Oppegaard is the Bram Stoker nominated author of The Firebug of Balrog County (Sept 2015 FLUX), The Suicide Collectors, Wormwood, Nevada, And the Hills Opened Up, and The Ragged Mountains. David's work is a blend of science fiction, literary fiction, horror, and fantasy. He lives in St. Paul, MN.

You can visit his website/blog at

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