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Johnny and the Dead: The Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, Book 2

Review

Johnny and the Dead: The Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, Book 2

Johnny Maxwell, of ONLY YOU CAN SAVE MANKIND fame, is the only one who can see and chat with dead people. He and his buddy, Wobbler, are strolling through the cemetery talking about how it's just been sold to developers who will build offices on the land.

On a whim, Johnny knocks on the mausoleum door of Alderman Thomas Bowler --- who opens it! As the Alderman says "Yes?" Johnny skedaddles with Wobbler sprinting behind. That's strange enough, but Wobbler didn't see or hear a thing and insists the padlocked door couldn't open. After Wobbler heads off, Johnny returns to chat with the dead Alderman and to teach him to dance like Michael Jackson. (The Alderman manages a moonwalk but says "Ouch!" instead of Jackson's "Oooowwwwwweeeeeah!")

Because of his parents' marital problems, Johnny is now living with his grandfather. When Granddad and Johnny go to the cemetery, Johnny meets another dead man, communist William Stickers, "hero of the working class." Stickers adamantly doesn't believe in the stupid notion of life after death, even in the face of his own evidence to the contrary. Johnny soon discovers that all dead people despise being called "ghosts."

When Johnny persuades his (alive) buddies to visit the cemetery, they gaze upon a particularly ornate mausoleum and decide the dead person is showing off: "There's probably a sticker on the back saying 'My Other Grave Is a Porch.'"

The dead folks persuade Johnny to defend their resting place. But can he do it, realistically? Who will listen to a twelve-year-old? In the meantime, Johnny's dead friends rediscover the joys of living. They find unique ways to communicate with the living and indulge in activities including swimming, TV watching, pub hopping, horror movie watching, and journeying to the moon.

Terry Pratchett has done it again, causing the reader to howl with laughter and yet contemplate serious issues. At one point Johnny looks at the dismal crowded projects his buddy Bigmac lives in and muses on how weird it is that so many people are crammed into such a small area while the "post-senior citizens" have a spacious cemetery. Pratchett also humanizes the dead, giving them unique personalities; he does the same for soldiers in long-ago wars. There's also a mystery running through the story: Who is the aptly-named "Mr. Grimm"?

JOHNNY AND THE DEAD can be read (and thoroughly enjoyed) as a stand-alone book, but if you haven't read Johnny's previous story, the amazing ONLY YOU CAN SAVE MANKIND, you are totally missing out! Highest recommendation.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on April 3, 2007

Johnny and the Dead: The Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, Book 2
by Terry Pratchett

  • Publication Date: April 3, 2007
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0060541903
  • ISBN-13: 9780060541903