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What Dreams May Come: A Novel Paperback – January 1, 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 416 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A classic novel of love after death, from one our greatest fantasy writers. The premise is deceptively simple: Chris Neilson has died in a car accident, but his life-force--his spirit--is still conscious of this plane of reality. And he is still too in love with his wife, Ann, to completely let go. She in turn does not want to go on living without him, as each regards the other as their soul mate. What Chris will do to get back with Ann after she dies makes for one of the most unusual love stories ever told. Even though the story can be enjoyed as pure fantasy, what makes What Dreams May Come unique is how the author spent years researching the subject of life after death. (An exhaustive bibliography is included to verify this.) And while Matheson admits that the characters are of course fictional, he also states that "With few exceptions, every other detail is derived exclusively from research." Whether, after reading this novel, one believes in life after death is of course a matter of opinion. At least you'll entertain the possibility that, even though we may not live forever, true love can be eternal. --Stanley Wiater --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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“Richard Matheson is worth our time, attention, and great affection.” ―Ray Bradbury
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (January 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765308703
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765308702
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (416 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel is the most vivid, complex, and surprisingly convincing depiction of afterlife I have ever encountered in a work of fiction. Nothing else I have seen on the subject, in literature or in film, comes close--certainly not the 1998 film. Before I read the novel, I had no idea that a story about Heaven and Hell could have such a profound effect on me.

In the metaphysics of the film and the book, dying involves shedding your physical body and entering a mental environment shaped by thoughts. Your fate in such an environment is largely self-imposed. That much of the movie intrigued me, the first time I saw it. The problem was the schmaltz. I mean real schmaltz, piled on in large mounds, in place of strong narrative.

It's hard for me to convey just how very different the novel is. Of course there are major differences in the plot. One such difference is the ending. (Even Roger Ebert, who heaped high praise on the film, was disappointed by the ending.) Another is the beginning, where the film adds Chris's children to the list of characters who die and go to Heaven. In doing this, the movie (1) makes the early scenes so depressing they become surreal (2) needlessly clutters the story with extra characters (3) introduces a silly and confusing subplot about Chris's attempts to find his children, who are in disguise.

In the book, Chris's children are adults, not youngsters, and they're minor characters who never die in the course of the story. The details of Chris's life on Earth differ so greatly between the book and the film that it's like reading about a completely different person. Even though I saw the movie first, the image of Robin Williams completely vanished from my mind as I read, because he was so unlike the character described in the book.
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Format: Paperback
This book touched me. Over and over again. Having already seen the movie, I alredy knew what to expect, but I was wrong. The book is soo much better and DIFFERENT than the movie which is great. The story is basically the same outline, but there is just soo much more heartfilled moments in the book u just couldnt capture on film. So much sorrow and sadness and of course happiness. Not a long read, but the amount of feelings u get out of this book just might change the way you think and live your life. It made me reflect on my life and the people in it that I love and take for granted.
Just a powerfull thought and emotional prevoking story, and Im not ashamed to say that I loved it.
totally worth the read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sobbing...
That sums up what I did for the first quarter of the book. Somehow Richard Matheson was able to pull every one of my heart strings. But unlike the movie this wasn't his only objective. Bringing out these emotions tapped into the deep realms of what you believe afterlife is.
I think that many of the other reviewers that only gave this book 2 or 1 star may have missed the point of what matheson was getting at. He did not say that everyone, even those who didn't believe in god, got to go to heaven. As a matter of fact, heaven was only briefly mentioned in this work. It was stated that everybody makes their own existance in the afterlife. And only those who have improved themselves, and became better people move on to another, even higher realm. this resembles many of the christian teachings I know of. Now this may break the traditional mold of what the afterlife is for many religions, But in no way should this prevent anybody, from any religion, from reading this masterpiece.
This is the only thing I can say with certainty about this book. My grandmother died last week. I would never have gotten through her suffering & death without "What Dreams May Come". I was able to smile & feel at peace during the funeral. Thank you Richard Matheson. You have enriched my life, and made an optomist out of a person who never looked toward the future.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I can't force you to read this book, but I can promise that it will be one of the best book investements you can make. Without forcing you to, Richard Matheson makes you evaluate your own life and existence and in my case- made me a little less scared to die. Beyond the afterlife content, its an awesome love story that literally made me sob. I now know each of us has a soulmate out there. Good luck in the search!
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Though Matheson writes this in fiction form, he uses a great deal of research in forming his theory of the afterlife. Anyone questioning their personal beliefs about this great unknown will find solace from reading "What Dreams May Come"... you don't have to believe this is how things are, but it offers a compelling and beautiful picture of what might be.

This book was more influential than the Bible in shaping my own spiritual beliefs. What I love most about it is that any and all religions, or people of no faith at all, can enjoy and be inspired by this tale. Even if you don't view this from a spiritual perspective, and you are just looking for a good read, you will be entertained. This is so well written and easy to read that it is hard to put down.

Most importantly, please don't judge this book by the movie. Though I'm a fan of Robin Williams, the movie really doesn't come close to conveying the deep spiritual journey the protagonist, (an atheist until death), embarks upon.
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