The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier is where there is a whole city of the dead that are still remembered by the living, which sounds a lot like Pixar’s film Coco. This is no Coco. There is a plague that wipes out all of existence except one person to our knowledge who is isolated the city of the dead shrinks to one city where all are connected in some ways. The story is more metaphorical than straight linear. The words written are beautiful, but man does this story get boring, the last person doesn’t seem to want to do really anything that makes sense. Mostly it’s wondering and you get to know her character through the people she knew. I thought it was an interesting story, but it could’ve been something more. The dead world was interesting and a metaphor for living your best life even if you’re dead. Really bad pacing problem stops what could have been a great novel. The novel flips back and forth between the city of the dead and The last human? Maybe Laura. The city of the dead is way more interesting.
The Plot: Laura is on a base in Antarctica working on a campaign for Coca-Cola. They want to go back to have penguins enjoying a coke. Laura’s team go out to meet the other team after they can not get contact. The city of the dead, is a city made up of people who live because they are remembered by the living, well everyone in this city starts disappearing, those that come to the city speak of a plague wiping out all of humanity. Laura starts losing power at her station and decided to find her team at the other station. The city of the dead is shifting and people start realizing they’re connected to Laura. Everybody who comes through wants to know about Laura. Is she humanity’s hope?
What I Liked: The word used to describe city’s and I’ve of Antarctica are beautiful. I don’t know if I liked Laura but I liked the dead’s memories of her. I did think it interesting the look of religion that went on in the city of the dead. I liked the restaurant worker who always wanted to run a restaurant they way he wanted but had no means, but got to in the city of the dead and was so happy about it. I liked that the dead had a newspaper about what the recently dead reported on. I do like the drum beat you hear when you died compared to Earth’s heartbeat. I like what it says about human interaction, and how we need more of it to live our best life.
What I Disliked: The pacing is really bad the city of the dead is fun and Laura is all ice and survival, there is a rare flashback thrown in which was always welcomed. I felt we needed three city of the dead chapters for every Laura chapter not switching back and forth where nothing happens. The end is metaphorical it is okay, but I wanted concrete as well.
Recommendation: While I find the afterlife interesting, and this is a unique take on it for sure, I cannot recommend this book. If you want a book that is beautifully written and described but lacking in story and substance then this might be your book. I rated The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier 3 out of 5 stars. It was close to 2.5 but the descriptions and metaphors are really well done.