Book: The Brief History of the Dead
Author: Kevin Brockmeier
The City is inhabited by those who have departed Earth but are still remembered by the living. They will reside in this afterlife until they are completely forgotten. But the City is shrinking, and the residents clearing out. Some of the holdouts, like Luka Sims, who produces the City’s only newspaper, are wondering what exactly is going on. Others, like Coleman Kinzler, believe it is the beginning of the end. Meanwhile, Laura Byrd is trapped in an Antarctic research station, her supplies are running low, her radio finds only static, and the power is failing. With little choice, Laura sets out across the ice to look for help, but time is running out. Kevin Brockmeier alternates these two storylines to create a lyrical and haunting story about love, loss and the power of memory.-Goodreads
Review: The idea is this book is excellent-when people die they go to The City, a place where you stay as long as you are remembered by someone on Earth. The book follows some characters in The City, as well as a researcher in the Antarctic, Laura.
So, remember how I said the idea of the book is excellent? It is, absolutely fantastic. What I didn't think was so great was what the author did (or rather didn't do) with the idea. People in The City live just like they did on earth. They have their memories, jobs, see friends and relatives. They live in furnished apartments, eat food and consume beverages. I kept wondering if there was money exchanging hands. Why were these people working? Did they really enjoy it? What happened with criminals, they certainly live in living people's memories as well, where were they? Alas, none of my burning questions were answered. We also never delved enough into these peoples lives for me to care about them as characters. We did find out that people were dying on earth due to a biological weapon of sorts being distributed through Coke (the company Coca Cola is actually referenced and I'm shocked their corporate office allowed this to be printed). It was also cool when people in The City realized they had one person in common, Laura.
Now, let's get to Laura. She's a researcher in Antarctica and finds herself trapped. We quickly realize she's the only human left on earth. She starts a trek across the frozen tundra to find more people and I initially was excited by this adventure. I was hoping for a Martian type experience (you know, she was going to Maverick/engineer her way through survival) but it was quickly apparent that she was going to die, it was not a matter of if, just a matter of when.
So overall-while I found the idea of this book unique, the execution was lacking. I could not connect to the characters.