The Brief History of the Dead, Book Review

9781400095957An impulse grab based solely on the cover. So sue me.

This book is based on the African story of the dead… The dead aren’t just dead so long as someone is alive who remembers them but once everyone who knew them has passed then they transition into the next stage, like a second death. Brockmeier takes that premise and turns it into a living work of art that tugs on your beliefs and makes you think.

Humans are in trouble and its our own fault. Biological warfare and war have killed off entire cities, and so the city of the dead grows and grows. It has always been a place of people. People who make shoes, who play music, who adopt children newly crossed over, who congregate in groups that are familial or familiar to them. The most recent citizens are talking of “The Blinks”, a pandemic that is sweeping the earth, its prominent symptom that of blinking too often.

Among the living, Laura Byrd is trapped in an outpost in Antarctica. She and two other scientists are stationed there to test the ice for imperfections and impact on wildlife if it were to be used to manufacture Coca-cola. When the radio breaks the two men of her team set out for the nearest settlement and never return.

In the city of the dead, for they certainly aren’t alive, their hearts stopped beating when they crossed over, the city has suddenly lost most of its inhabitants and the boundaries of the city are closing in.

What does this mean for humanity? What does this mean for the dead?

I loved this book. It was phenomenal from the start and ended in a sweeping arc of color and imagination.

You must read it.



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