A Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

One sentence review: “The dead tell the story of the most boring apocalypse ever.” 

briefhistoryofthedeadPages: 252  Genre: Post-Apocalyptic 
Rating: 3 of 5 Crushed Coke Cans
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.66 of 5 stars
Form Read: Physical Book   Purchased: Used Book Store

Amazon synopsis: From Kevin Brockmeier, one of this generation’s most inventive young writers, comes a striking new novel about death, life, and the mysterious place in between. 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.


Wow. I never knew the end of the world could be a complete and utter bore before. The initial concept is great. The idea that those you knew give you a second chance in a kind of urban purgatory. I’d be pissed if I lived a good life and then realized I am stuck for anywhere from 40-80 years paying bills and continuing to work. But don’t fret, you can finally open that restaurant you always wanted to and spend 14 hours a day working there post-retirement!

People don’t age, so that adds another layer of awkward. As does the gratuitous product placement. The flow of the story is sometimes sacrificed for a quick reference to how refreshing a Coke would be, or a suspenseful moment in the afterlife put aside to comment on the number of crushed Coke cans on the sidewalk or rolling past the individuals stuck in purgatory.

The concept is good, but the execution lost it’s way about halfway through and reminded me of listening to a good story told by a 90+ year old man who derails frequently and focuses on inconsequential extraneous detail instead of the story you’re attempting to hear.

Find the book: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble