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Publisher's Summary

Award-winning author Kevin Brockmeier delivers a spellbinding, supernatural tale of love, memories, and human connection. All residents of the City have recently died, and they will remain in the City only as long as someone still living on Earth remembers them. On Earth, however, the population has been devastated by a terrible pandemic. Laura Byrd, isolated at an Antarctic research station, may be the only person to have survived the pandemic. But she's running out of time and supplies, and her memories are fading.

Brilliant in concept and execution, The Brief History of the Dead is a spectacular achievement that lingers in the mind long after the final word.

©2006 Kevin Brockmeier (P)2006 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"Beautiful, delicate." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    59
  • 4 Stars
    70
  • 3 Stars
    74
  • 2 Stars
    28
  • 1 Stars
    12

Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    34
  • 4 Stars
    34
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    26
  • 4 Stars
    22
  • 3 Stars
    21
  • 2 Stars
    10
  • 1 Stars
    3
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • M.
  • 10-09-06

Not for everyone...

I can't exactly classify this book for anyone, as it isn't classifiable. It's not sci/fi, it's not really dramatic, it's.. well it just is. it's sort of a slice of life & death.

Don't expect this to be a thrill ride, but if you let it in, this book will have an ongoing place in your memory; little things will suddenly pop into your head, little details you might not of picked up, but all the sudden their they are.

I really enjoyed this book, but as I said it’s not for everyone. The narration is some of the best I've ever listened to.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Rafael
  • Atlanta, GA, USA
  • 07-01-06

Just OK

First off, I love the narrator's voice. Second, I think there's a lot of story potential and the plot idea is clever. However, I kept waiting for something more substantial to occur. It never happened and the ending was a bit of a disappointment.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Deserved a better ending

This book was intriguing and had me thoroughly absorbed in it right up until the very unsatisfying ending. If it could even be said to have one. Still worth the read, as long as you are not waiting with baited breath to see how it all ends.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Deathly slow book

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Barely a professional novel, this moves at the pace of a snail crossing a sticky floor. Despite much of the novel being a one character show, there's barely any character development. It's hard to even figure out how the author uses all those time-consuming words while accomplishing so little with them. In theory I love the idea of the novel, but wake me up when it's over.

Would you ever listen to anything by Kevin Brockmeier again?

No.

What does Richard Poe bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Richard Poe is actually a really good reader. You couldn't completely tell it from this, but I've heard him read books before and he was one of the things that recommended this purchase to me. His voice has a lot of gravitas and feeling to it. Everything he reads sounds smarter because he read it, which suggests how braindead this book must actually be.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger that I wasted the time. Sadness that I spent the money.

Any additional comments?

Stay away.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Dissapointed

The book seemed to consist of long, detailed, drawn-out descriptions focusing on minutia with no true plot or direction tying them together. In the end no real questions are answered and nothing is resoloved, which is disappointing since the idea behind the book is clever and novel. So much potential, but ultimately so much of my time was wasted listening to this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Really thought provoking book.

It's nicely written. Maybe at times it gets a little wordy, but usually not for too long.

The story is super interesting and really well thought out. There's a lot going on, but never too much to keep track of. A handful of really interesting characters- some dead, some alive - and I couldn't stop listening to the audio book waiting to see how it would all tie together.

The only downside was that it felt like it was going somewhere, like it was building to some big moment, and it never felt like that moment came. It sort of just ends. It makes sense and everything. You're not left hanging, but it wasn't as big of a moment as maybe I was hoping.

Still a great story and I'll be telling my friends about it.

And the audio book was really well narrated.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Interesting idea, but no plot closure

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

The emotional development of the characters was well done, but I felt frustrated with the lack of explanation and retribution in the narrative.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kelli
  • Birmingham, AL, United States
  • 04-01-12

Fascinating Premise

This was a reread for me. The premise of the book is so intriguing: a story split between a city of the "living dead" who only remain in the city as long as someone on Earth holds that person in their memory and a wildlife researcher in the Antarctica who may be the only person on Earth who has not yet succumbed to a manmade virus. On my second reading, I did a better job of tracking all the myriad connections between the many living dead and the still-alive wildlife researcher - however tangential those connections might be. What did not happen, however, is a change in my ultimate opinion for the book. I was definitely satisfied but nothing more.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Audrey
  • Austin, TX, USA
  • 09-28-09

Can't wait to hear it again.

Finally, a truly great post-apocalyptic novel that manages to be about so much more than the nuts and bolts of the gory end of man. The premise is really fresh and the story is told so delicately and carefully that it unfolds like a flower. This book made me look at humankind and the nature of human relationships with a compassion that I had not felt for years.

About a year ago, I muscled through this novel in one reeeeeally long road trip. It kept me awake and engaged. When I finally reached my destination for the night, I was so bummed that there were 30 minutes left that I ended up listening to the rest of it there in the parking lot, in the same car I'd have paid good money to escape hundreds of miles earlier that day.

There were a few parts toward the end that I felt were too slow, and have since realized that I was just so curious and impatient to see how it ended that I was giving no respect to the process. Then I found out that when I just *listened* to the language and watched the story coming together in my mind, I was really glad that those parts were there.

I'm about to read it again. This time, instead of blazing through it, I'm going to take my time. It's worth it.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Rebekkah
  • Queen Creek, AZ, USA
  • 01-15-08

Beautifully written

This book won't answer any questions about the afterlife - in fact, I walked away with more ideas to ponder, which I appreciate. This is a beautiful showcase of characters and emotions, with a novel concept as a backdrop. I would liked to have seen this concept fleshed out some more, but didn't need it to enjoy the book. Also, I was very pleased with the narrator, who was able to convey the message and emotions without overstepping his role.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful