The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

April 13, 2008
By Bapalapa2 ELITE, Brooklyn, New York
Bapalapa2 ELITE, Brooklyn, New York
1044 articles 0 photos 1 comment

This is one of the few books I've literally not been able to put down. It's premise is one I had never seen before, and that's pretty rare where fantasy novels are concerned.

The odd-numbered chapters of this book deal with a place simply called “The City,” where dead people live until they are forgotten on Earth. At one time the city was huge, and no inhabitant could ever dream of meeting everyone who lived there. But now the city is shrinking, and no one knows why.

The even-numbered chapters tell the story of a young woman named Laura Byrd who is trapped in Antarctica, alone at a research station with no means of communicating with the rest of the world. She slowly withdraws into her own thoughts, and most importantly her memories.

Kevin Brockmeier weaves these two stories together masterfully, constantly dropping hints but never revealing too much of the story at one time. Each clue makes the mystery of what is happening both more clear and more ambiguous, making for a gripping read.

As the story unfolds the reader is drawn more and more into the surreal experience of listening to Laura's thoughts as if they were the reader's own. Each character is fully formed with all the good and bad qualities of any other person you would meet on the street, and their strange situations only make that more clear.

I couldn't turn the pages of The Brief History of the Dead fast enough, and couldn't have been more disappointed to have to close it at the end.

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