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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Johnny and his band of quirky pals are back in "Johnny and the Dead," the second book of Terry Pratchett's "Johnny Maxwell" trilogy. Pratchett was surer this time around, endowing this hilarious sequel with quirkier dialogue and stories, and snappier writing.
Johnny Maxwell sees dead people. (Yes, like the little boy in "Sixth Sense.") For whatever reason, he sees the dead in their graveyard -- not really ghosts, but not alive either: a crabby former soldier, a distant relative of Einstein, a sprightly suffragette who died in a freak mishap, and a staunch Communist who STILL doesn't believe in life after death. All in all, they are a fairly harmless bunch.
But a massive, mercenary, progress-obsessed corporation has just bought the graveyard for fivepence, and it will soon be razed for new construction. The only people more dismayed than the living inhabitants of Blackbury are the dead ones. So as the dead break their bonds to "unlive," Johnny and his friends will try to save the graveyard from... a fate worse than death?
Yes, it's the sort of bizarre, slightly twisted plot that only Terry Pratchett could cook up, and then pull off. And yes, the same could be said of "Only You Can Save Mankind." But by the time he wrote this -- pre-Discworld -- Pratchett had obviously grown into his skills.
In particular, the Big Message in this book is more subtle -- that money and progress aren't worth anything if they destroy the past. Despite that heavy moral, the handling of it is light and entertatining, such as when the dead Communist calls up a radio talk show host and speaks frankly about being "vertically challenged."
Despite half a dozen amusing dead people, the star of the piece is Johnny himself -- smart, quiet unless he has a reason to speak out, and inexplicably able to see the dead. He also plays straight man to the quirkier pals, like peculiar Wobbler, intellectual Yo-less, and perpetually hungry Bigmac. Although you'll need to have read "Mankind" to know who they are.
"Johnny and the Dead" is not just a sequel that surpasses the first book of this trilogy, but probably the best pre-Discworld work that Pratchett did. Funny, twisted and very well-done.
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on 8 September 2014
I already had this as a hardback but wanted the kindle version, and it never disappoints. It is meant for a slightly younger audience than Sir Terry's Discworld novels, but that doesn't mean he talks down to his audience. Topics such as wave/particle theory get a mention - although not in a scholarly way - and a regular character makes a cameo appearance, but I defy (in this the anniversary year of the start of World War I) not to be affected by the Blackbury Pals. Read it - then go and read all his other books!
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on 7 April 2014
Pratchett moves away from Disc World offering us life through the eyes of a young boy called Johnny. In these incredible tales which mix reality and fantasy, we get to experience yet another literary gem by an outstanding Author. If you love fantasy with a comedic twist, you will love the "Johnny" Trilogy.
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Johnny Maxwell is just a normal twelve-year old kid, or at least he tries to be. Things just seem to happen to him that don’t happen to anyone else—aliens inside a computer game surrender to him and name him their Chosen One, for example (as told in the first book of this series). Compared to that adventure, seeing dead people almost seems rather prosaic. The Trying Times Johnny has been living in have advanced past his parents’ shouting and Being Sensible About Things to Phase 3, which sees him now living with his grandfather. He often takes a short cut to school through a local cemetery, and it is there that he meets the Alderman, the long dead and buried Alderman. His friends Yo-less, Bigmac, and Wobbler can’t see dead people the way Johnny suddenly can, but events soon convince them that Johnny isn’t just fooling around with them. Johnny meets all of the dead people in the cemetery, all of whom are quite put out when they learn that their cemetery, a place which the rules of being dead say they cannot leave, has been sold by the city (for only five pence) to a corporation planning on building office buildings there. Since Johnny is the only human who can see them (and why Johnny can see them is rather a mystery, although the Alderman thinks it is because he is too lazy not to see them), the dead look to him to save their eternal resting place. Stopping a big corporation from doing something the city has granted them the legal right to do is no easy task, especially for a twelve-year-old boy and his friends, but Johnny is wonderfully resourceful.
The ending of this book didn’t have much spark to it, but overall Johnny and the Dead is an even better read than the first Johnny Maxwell novel Only You Can Save Mankind. It also rings quite distinctly at times of the type of humor showcased by the author in his Discworld novels. There is one bit early on that is just hilarious. Wobbler puts the idea in Johnny’s head that dead people basically lurch around like the zombie types in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, and this indirectly leads to the Alderman trying to moonwalk in the cemetery. The dead people as a whole put a lot of life into this book, oddly enough. Among the fascinating, entertaining dead folks we meet are an ardent suffragette, an inventor who is quite proficient at manipulating electronic equipment, a brilliant man named Einstein—Solomon Einstein the taxidermist, and a dyed-in-the-wool Marxist who is quite disappointed at the way things have gone in the world since his death. The vibrant personalities of the dead men and women more often than not clash in a number of very funny ways as they all try to cope with modern life or the lack of it.
This book does stand up fairly well on its own, but the characterization of Johnny and his friends is not detailed enough for you to really get to know them without having read Only You Can Save Mankind already. This is considered juvenile fiction, but as with everything Terry Pratchett writes, men and women of all ages, providing they have at least a nascent sense of humor, will find much to enjoy and laugh about in these pages.
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on 22 November 2013
I read this some years ago and this time I have bought it for my 10 year old granddaughter to go in her Christmas Stocking. As with all Pratchett books, it is well written and very funny which still have serious bits to think aout.
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on 2 May 2014
Another brilliant Pratchett tale narrated by the many voived Tony Robinson. Journey back to the late eighties and early nineties and through a child's eyes explore loss, change and being human. Wonderful. May be aimed at children but it is a cracking tale to wind away a long journey.
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on 16 June 2013
Bought this as a Pratchett fan and when it arrived did worry that it was for younger readers, but loved it anyway. Then happened to let it out to my older brother and his wife that I had read it and surprise, surprise turns out they have read it and loved it also.
Great story with a wonderful twist.
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Johnny and his band of quirky pals are back in "Johnny and the Dead," the second book of Terry Pratchett's "Johnny Maxwell" trilogy. Pratchett was surer this time around, endowing this hilarious sequel with quirkier dialogue and stories, and snappier writing.

Johnny Maxwell sees dead people. (Yes, like the little boy in "Sixth Sense.") For whatever reason, he sees the dead in their graveyard -- not really ghosts, but not alive either: a crabby former soldier, a distant relative of Einstein, a sprightly suffragette who died in a freak mishap, and a staunch Communist who STILL doesn't believe in life after death. All in all, they are a fairly harmless bunch.

But a massive, mercenary, progress-obsessed corporation has just bought the graveyard for fivepence, and it will soon be razed for new construction. The only people more dismayed than the living inhabitants of Blackbury are the dead ones. So as the dead break their bonds to "unlive," Johnny and his friends will try to save the graveyard from... a fate worse than death?

Yes, it's the sort of bizarre, slightly twisted plot that only Terry Pratchett could cook up, and then pull off. And yes, the same could be said of "Only You Can Save Mankind." But by the time he wrote this -- pre-Discworld -- Pratchett had obviously grown into his skills.

In particular, the Big Message in this book is more subtle -- that money and progress aren't worth anything if they destroy the past. Despite that heavy moral, the handling of it is light and entertatining, such as when the dead Communist calls up a radio talk show host and speaks frankly about being "vertically challenged."

Despite half a dozen amusing dead people, the star of the piece is Johnny himself -- smart, quiet unless he has a reason to speak out, and inexplicably able to see the dead. He also plays straight man to the quirkier pals, like peculiar Wobbler, intellectual Yo-less, and perpetually hungry Bigmac. Although you'll need to have read "Mankind" to know who they are.

"Johnny and the Dead" is not just a sequel that surpasses the first book of this trilogy, but probably the best pre-Discworld work that Pratchett did. Funny, twisted and very well-done.
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on 21 May 2014
Johnny and the Dead is, without a doubt, one of the finest short novels that I’ve ever read – Pratchett has this knack for characterisation, and whilst he’s more well-known for his Discworld series, you’d be a fool to pass up a chance to read one of the books in his Johnny Maxwell trilogy.

This particular novel tells the tale of young Johnny Maxwell, who finds out he can speak to the dead and ends up acting as their figurehead in a campaign to stop their cemetery from being destroyed. While it might sound morbid, Pratchett deals with a dark subject matter with his trademark sense of humour, and it’s a delight to see how the ghosts of the past interact with the (comparatively) present day. Pratchett released this back in the early nineties, but the world hasn’t changed much – saying that, I would’ve loved to have read about the ghosts’ first encounters with the internet. It was funny enough when they started calling radio shows!
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on 20 December 2000
This is a supurb introduction for anybody who is new to Terry, although reading Only You Can Save Mankind first would be advisable. It contains all that makes a good pratchett book including some dead funny (Pun intended) jokes to boot. Ever if you are older and a fan of his discworld series i would still recomend that you read this book as it is not one to be missed and neither are the other 2 in his "Johnny" series . This has been televised and it is easy to see why. a supurb and original plot line about a boy and his dead friend, this is one of the best childrens book that i have ever read and i recomend you to read it too!
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