The end of humanity in this book comes to pass in an interesting but not unheard of way. Everyone on the planet gives up on life and decides the best option is to kill themselves. The story picks up 5 years after the malady has pretty much burned itself out and few people are left. A bit is talked about of 'The 10 Percent'. Mr Oppegaard doesn't give many details but I guess The Despair is 90% fatal and the rest of the people have a bit of resistance to it.
The majority of the book deals with the conflict between Norman and a mysterious group of people who are known as 'Collectors'. These people apparently swoop in and collect the bodies of people who have killed themselves. They're pissed because Norman kills one instead of allowing them take the body of his wife. The specific mechanism of how these collectors figure out where the dead are or why exactly they collect them are never really gone into.
As I looked about the interwebs at different reviews I found a couple interesting things. Some I agree with such as the book being a damn fine work of fiction and the Collectors being like the 'bring out your dead' folks from the Black Death. Other things I totally disagree with.
First: Some found it unlikely that water would still be operating without any human intervention. Problem a. I watched Life After People recently and I'm nearly sure they said water would be running for years, problem b. in Earth Abides the water runs for decades as does the sewer system and no one had any difficulty believing that and problem c. the BOOK TAKES PLACE IN THE FUTURE. C'mon! We believe the fuel cells, the duracrete (is that the name of it?) and the completely automated factories but balk at the water still running in five years? That was a much smaller leap than cars and helicopters running without gas in five years. Just sayin.
Second this review taken directly from the author's website:
"Just when it seems that there are no new plots left to write about, David Oppegaard has come up with a doozy. His THE SUICIDE COLLECTORS takes us to a startling theme we haven't encountered before, with every page a thrilling new surprise."
-Stan Lee, writer, editor, & former Marvel Comics chairman
That is Stan Lee talking there. I guess he never saw The Happening, the M. Night Shyamalan pile. Now if Night had ran the movie to it's logical conclusion a world like the one in the Collectors would be the result.
Also he must have overlooked The Bridge by D. Keith Mano. Humanity also kills themselves in this book. I have read reviews of it here done in a much better depth than I intend on giving it. I will say only one thing here. I don't think the book is a PETA gone wild sort of thing, I took it as being more like The Handicapper General from Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut taken to the extreme of everything being equal not just people. In The Bridge everyone dies because killing anything - even bacteria when you breath - is illegal.
Lastly he must have overlooked The Suicide Plague by Ed Naha. I haven't read this one yet but it's not too much of a stretch to guess at the basic plot of the book.
So Stan Lee, you are wrong this has been done at least twice before and perhaps a third so it is definitely not 'a startling theme we haven't encountered before'. Just so you know.
That being said, this is a fantastic book and would be an excellent addition to any PA library. Even mine.