Taking a Shot at the Afterlife
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Frequently Asked Questions about Being Dead by Wred Fright is a book that may not serve too many frequently asked questions about death or being dead, but it does conjure up some larger questions about existence (in a more comical package). The book surrounds a girl named Mac who meets her demise at a car crash. An agent of death who comes in the form of a stack of pancakes comes to realize that Mac’s body is still alive, even though Mac’s spirit has separated from her body. As the agent (named Q.D.) tries to find out what is going on and how he can return Mac to her own body, they begin to entrench themselves in a problem far bigger than themselves that could change the face of the afterlife forever.
Frequently Asked Questions about Being Dead focuses more on the process that carries spirits to their final destination. When someone dies, they are greeted by an agent (who also has died at some point) who asks them a couple questions akin to a customer satisfaction survey. The newly dead person is allowed to ask three questions of their own before going through a portal, which presumably leads to the spring where the spirit energy gets thrown back in the universe. One of the strong suits about the story is when the characters and the audience are allowed to delve into the moral implications of how the world works. Part of the moral crux of the conflict is the fact that people are always treated the same in the afterlife, no matter their conduct in their previous lives. The book also touches upon classic questions about existences, such as Mac’s regrets about what she didn’t do while alive that she is unable to do anymore. I especially enjoyed how these philosophical concepts were explained in a way that anyone could understand. Sometimes when talking about what is defined as the “self” or philosophies on how one should conduct themselves, conversations can end up in contrived messes that no one can understand. The book here uses language that anyone can follow. My only complaint on this front is that I was not too sure whether I was supposed to come up with answers on my own or was supposed to glean the author’s morality from the book and learn from that. There are times at which the characters discuss transhumanism and come up with their separate conclusions, yet there are other times where the main moral crux is left unresolved while the conflict is resolved through convenience.
Between the bits of philosophy, there is a sort of silliness and creativity that acts as a double-edged sword within the book. It was interesting to learn about such a different vision of the afterlife and how spirits worked in the physical realm. Despite some continuity questions (that I may have simply overlooked) and some business with time (I will never be satisfied with time travel—I will always take issue with it), I really liked to learn about the world of these agents of death. There are little injections of silliness in the book that are a bit of a hit-or-miss for me. Q.D., the main agent, tends to like to shift his form, and some of the descriptions of him did put a smile on my face. However, there was this sort of recurring gag in which characters would masturbate to women without them knowing, and those sorts of jokes fell flat for me. I could only collect that the events were for the sake of shock humor, but they ended up taking me out of the story to the point that I had to get up and walk around before continuing to read the book. It pains me to say that those instances stuck in my head a lot stronger than the parts that I did sincerely enjoy about the book.
Frequently Asked Questions about Being Dead holds an interesting position in my mind. There are times during the book where I was really getting into the philosophy and the implications of a whole other world within our own and the intermediaries of the afterlife. The bits of levity and comedy were also quite welcome (not all philosophy and question-asking has to be stale). However, I don’t think this book is for everyone. For instance, the masturbation scenes were highly offensive, as they carried notes of degradation towards women. I’m no square when it comes to sex, but these scenes were neither funny, nor sexy, nor did it serve a purpose in the story. They just left me feeling creeped out and left me wondering Why go there?
Frequently Asked Questions about Being Dead by Wred Fright
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