Terry Pratchett,
Johnny and the Dead
(Doubleday, 1993; Corgi, 1994)

In Terry Pratchett's first book about young Johnny Maxwell, Only You Can Save Mankind, the 12-year-old London youth was the only one of a horde of video gamers who heard the pleas for peace from an alien game-bound race. Now, the young lad (still 12) with a conscience finds himself the sole earthly contact with a whole new group of downtrodden souls -- the dead residents of Blackbury Cemetery, an abandoned and uncared for plot of stoneworks and greenery in an otherwise urban environment.

But Blackbury's days are numbered. United Amalgamated Consolidated Holdings, a very big business indeed, has purchased the cemetery with plans to raze the stones, ship the bodies elsewhere and put up an office building. The residents of the cemetery, who have inadvertently learned from Johnny how to dance the moonwalk, a la Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video, through Johnny's well-intentioned interactions, aren't too happy with this prospect. And they fully intend to do something about it -- once they've gotten over the thrill of television, telephones and other modern conveniences newly introduced into their unlives.

Johnny and the Dead is another entertaining, non-Discworld book from Pratchett that keeps you laughing throughout, both at the uproarious activities of the restless dead and the typical boyish machinations of Johnny and his friends. This book will entertain young and old readers alike with its fresh, blunt and wholly wicked sense of fun.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 1 September 2001

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