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Book Review – "The Brief History of the Dead"

One of my new year’s resolutions was to read 12 books this year, one for each month. Well, here we are at the start of August, and I just now finished my first of the year. Better late than never I suppose.

The book that got me back into reading was “The Brief History of the Dead” by Kevin Brockmeier. I happened to stumble across this recommendation on NPR which led to me picking it up at the library. I made it through to the end, but it got to be some tough sleding near the end.

The premise of the book is that when a person dies, they go to this sort-of parallel world, which is pretty much like the “living” world, and a person remains there as long as someone in the living world remembers them. So it’s like a temporary afterlife. But once the last living person who remembers them dies, they disappear from this parallel world. Sort of sounds science-fictiony, but it’s really not.

So the book alternates chapters between the “real world” and this other world. In the real world, there is a plague that is wiping out the population. So in turn, the parallel world is shrinking drastically as well and the people there are trying to figure out what is going on. A fairly interesting concept that kept my interest for about 2/3 of the book. Unfortunately, after that, things sort of slowed to a snails pace and the book just dragged along. It’s a fairly short read (around 250 pages), but I almost didn’t make it through because it got to be so dull. But ultimately I wanted to see what happens at the end.

The book was ranked three stars out of five on Amazon, which seems about right to me. It showed a lot of promise in the beginning, but it really dragged on at the end as if the author wasn’t quite sure where to take things and how to wrap them up.


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