A Review of The Physics of the Dead by Luke Smitherd

Frank Bowler finds himself dead and in a place called The Foyer. He meets a man called Hart that has been there awhile and who essentially teaches him how to be a ghost. Throughout this book are excerpts from Hart’s fictional book on how to be dead. Bowler and Frank are both extremely bored with their lives as ghosts. The Foyer consists of the town of Coventry where they are both born and raised. They can go to different places but they can’t interact with the people or objects around them. They can’t read. They are subjected to only watching the programs that the living are watching around them. Their goal becomes finding a way out of The Foyer while avoiding The Beast, a creature who stalks them and tries to break them.

This is not what I expected. I thought a book about the dead would have more horror or science fiction elements but it really doesn’t. This is just a drama about 2 dead men and it jumps back and forth in time hitting on their previous lives while also jumping back and forth between when Bowler first got to The Foyer and what is considered present time. It became confusing at times even though font type was used to try and distinguish time periods.

There were parts that were sad and the sentimental ending actually added a star rating for me I still felt it fell flat. This is like the 5th of 6th book I’ve read by Luke Smitherd and he’s previous works have been better. This lacked the science fiction and horror elements that I’ve come to associate with him.

I wasn’t completely bored with it but it never had enough of a hook to want me to keep reading non stop. After picking this up and down for nearly a month, I finally just forced myself through it in two days. With that being said, if the book was awful I never would’ve been able to do that.

It is more of a slow burn, dialogue driven book. It is a lot of talk between Bowler and Hart about what they can and can’t do and I’ve never read two characters that over analyze things as much as these characters do. The concept and idea behind the story is actually pretty good, especially once you get to the real meat of the story. But it was much too wordy. Had Mr. Smitherd cut out half the dialogue I think it would’ve hit the mark a lot better. I gave this book a 4 out of 5. I initially thought three but after finishing the book and the sort of moral to the story ending I added a star because I thought the story deserved it despite the few flaws it had.


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