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Summary

What happens to us after we die? Chris Nielsen had no idea, until an unexpected accident cut his life short, separating him from his beloved wife, Annie. Now Chris must discover the true nature of life after death.

But even Heaven is not complete without Annie, and the divided soul mates will do anything to reach each other across the boundaries between life and death. When tragedy threatens to divide them forever, Chris risks his very soul to save Annie from an eternity of despair.

©1978 Richard Matheson (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic reviews

"One of the most important writers of the 20th century." (Ray Bradbury)
"Matheson is one of the great names in American terror fiction." ( Philadelphia Inquirer)

What listeners say about What Dreams May Come

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loved it!

loved this book, was my first on Audible, used it to past the time at work. loved every minute.... highly recommend.

2 people found this helpful

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Wow

Loved this book... Spiritual Karma is actually a thing! If everybody read/listened to this book, there would be a lot more kind, decent people walking the Earth :)

1 person found this helpful

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Deeply enthralling <3

Such a captivating story that transports you through the stages of grief, repentance and redemption. Anger, love and sadness, wrapped in a delicate yet strong story read by a skilled, powerful narrator.

Loved the film, and the book is equally as brilliant.

Couldn’t turn it off!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Db
  • 31-07-18

Enlightenment

‘What dreams may come’ is a poignant, profound and ambitious exploration into the afterlife-that is in essence a portrait of true marital love and what it really means to have a soulmate. Akin to all his novels Matheson’s prose is characteristically nuanced- and effortlessly effective, drawing the reader in to his rendition of purgatory, heaven and of course, hell. Furthermore this is brought to life with fantastic narration, and I am left feeling both enlightened and humbled by this novel- highly
recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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amazing

such a beautiful story on how far some one will go for love and peace just beautiful

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Starts well...but

Overall OK, it just feels rushed and not fleshed out enough, I'd have liked it to have been a bit more descriptive. Nicely read.

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exceptional

I devoured this book in one sitting. It's beautiful. Absolutely loved it, annoyed I dismissed it because I never enjoyed the film, but the story idea in the film was excellent so I'm delighted I went ahead with the book. Loved Robertson Dean's narration too. I'll read this again

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loved the film but the book is better

i love the film so decided to get this and i enjoyed it from star to finish fascinating view on afterlife well worth listening to the

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  • Joshua H.
  • 20-01-20

Stephen King favorite?

I grew up watching the original Twilight Zone marathons and of course had my favs. "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", "The monsters are due on Maple St." etc. I also loved Vincent Price's renditions of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Pit snd the Pendulum". My favorite movie (still to this day) is 1980"s "Somewhere in Time". a movie that scared the Hell out of me was Spielberg's first major picture "Duel". then in the 90's I fell in love with my 2nd most favorite movie of all time "What Dreams May Come". a girl I was dating at the time was an avid bookworm and she decided to read the paperback. A few days into it she said "This story is way better than the movie and it was written by the same guy Richard Matheson that wrote "Somewhere in Time"! I had to read it to see if she knew good stories. WOW! The first time I read it I finished the entire thing in a little over a day. It grabs you from the beginning and never let's go. I did research for Matheson. All of the aforementioned? Matheson! He was a fellow Jersey boy as well. And one of King and Spielberg's favorite authors? I think I read that Matheson was an influence on Kubrik too? I saw that Matheson has been a major staple in Horror, Sci-fi, Romance, etc? This story encompasses them all. I told eople about this book and how (at the time) I read 3 times. I made the mistake of lending the book out to female Co-workers only to have it "Conveniently misplaced" 4 times! Yes it is that good. enter the internet and Social media. I joined a "S.I.T. (Somewhere in Time) group and there was one member named Ali Matheson! She ended up being Richard's daughter and gave me some insight on her father's stories, being on set of his productions. Her middle name is "Marie" and family members were the Character's names in his stories. Richard was still alive at the time and..... and..... she asked him to just message me because I was a fan since "The Twilight Zone" etc. I have read a lot of books from King, Poe, Byron, etc etc. Matheson is by far, STILL my favorite author with my top two all time favorite movies.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-01-20

Tragically beautiful

Richard Matheson is a Master Storyteller and shines yet again.
Until I came across this audiobook, I had only seen the movie with Robin Williams starring. I loved the movie instantly and it never has failed to bring tears to my eyes. The original book is always better than a movie, in my opinion and this book is no different.
I have always mourned at not having found love. A true love. A Corinthian kind of love. A love like in this story where Chris loves Ann.
This will Always be my favorite story. Book, audio, or film.

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  • Randall
  • 10-01-11

Poor ending

This book was fairly good syfi until the last hour or so. The author then goes into religious rantings that detract from the rest of a good book.

115 people found this helpful

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  • Audio Gra Gra
  • 22-10-15

If you don't like weak characters, pass on this

If you have a low tolerance for weak and whiny characters, this might be a book to avoid. Chris is a man who has died but can't let go of his wife - however he can barely muster anywhere near the same determination about his four children.
I am only slightly exaggerating by reporting that nearly every sentence for the first three quarters of the book is some variation of "I needed to see Anne" or "I needed to talk to Anne" or "I needed to help Anne".
After his death he sets about disregarding the advice of EVERYONE in the afterlife who he asks advice from and attempts to reconnect with his wife.
The narration doesn't help either - it's like a smarmy self help therapist and it grated on me the whole way through.
It was an exercise of determination for me to persist through to the end and now that I have finished the wishy washy philosophical mashup of heaven, hell, reincarnation and eternal love of soul mates that is the ending to the story, I offer you one word to sum up this book - twaddle.

29 people found this helpful

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  • Crystal Hickerson
  • 24-06-21

SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE MOVIE!!!

The book goes into detail about the afterlife. However it is read more like an instructor at a seminar than a dramatic story. That was probably why some people didn't like it. I enjoyed it because I have a profound belief in the afterlife and wanted to hear another person's thoughts on it.
The movie: I didn't care for the movie. I mean I loved the story and the actors however I didn't like the depiction of the characters and how it is do different than the book. In the movie the whole family dies and I thought that was over the top. Then he meets his son and daughter in "heaven" too ridiculous!!
The book is so much better albeit devoid of dramatics. It's written in a non fiction style.
I highly recommend the read!!

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  • Jeremy
  • 12-12-16

Skip the book. See the film.

One of those rare instances where the movie actually is better than the book. Way better. It retains the basic outline, salient points, and aesthetic details (not to mention adding a depth and beauty missing in the book) while dispensing with a lot of the arrogant, legalistic, and codependent baggage contained in the book. I will say that the narrator did a fine job, however I found the book to be a somewhat twisted and disturbing version of the film.

27 people found this helpful

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  • Michael G Kurilla
  • 31-01-21

Til death do not part

What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson is an afterlife fantasy. A man who dies as a result of an auto accident learns that the afterlife is not as simple as heaven and hell, but merely another stage in existence. Unfortunately, his wife does not adjust well to her loss and subsequently commits suicide whereupon, he learns that she is relegated to her own private hell for the remainder of what would have been her natural life. His love for her is so strong that he descends into hell (or what is described as the lower realms) to retrieve her and decides that if he can't extract her, he will spend the time with her, rather than abandon her.

Matheson weaves a desirable vision of the afterlife with the lower realms and hell itself as something individuals do to themselves. Even the stage that the main character experiences is only the first stage in what is alluded to be an ever-expanding series of successive planes of existence. This worldview is aligned with an individual making his own heaven or hell rather than an outside force imposing rules of behavior and making judgment calls. Lastly, the sense of a 'soulmate' is offered as a real thing that can transcend even the structural limitations of the universe.

The narration is well done with excellent character distinction and well aligned pacing.

1 person found this helpful

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  • ASK
  • 26-11-20

Profound

This book is really interesting. I read it about 10 years ago. Revisiting the audiobook version (which is excellent), I've realized it was the first book to plant the idea in my mind that our thoughts create our reality, and that we're responsible for them.

The story is also very beautiful; an incredible love story full of growth and adventure. It's a modern Dante's Inferno, and I think it has much to teach.

I also recommend "A New Earth," by Eckhart Tolle. I think it makes a wonderful companion to this.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jim "The Impatient"
  • 02-08-11

Read I am Legend or The Shrinking Man Not this

I am Legend and The Shrinking Man are really good books. This does not come even close to those two. This is sad and depressing. RM gives us a version of Heaven and Hell and tries not to upset any religion or group of people. Heaven and Hell are all what you make it in your head and what you believe in. This might make a good lecture, but as a story it was just boring. There is no conflict, no plot or plot twists. In trying to please everybody, RM pleases no one.

31 people found this helpful

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  • Thomas John
  • 09-02-15

Poor Character Development

Would you try another book from Richard Matheson and/or Robertson Dean?

The Reader, Mr. Dean was Good. I would not buy another book by Matheson.

What was most disappointing about Richard Matheson’s story?

Character development. See Below in comments.

What three words best describe Robertson Dean’s performance?

Prepared, Good Voice.

What character would you cut from What Dreams May Come?

Chris Neilson and Anne Neilson.

Any additional comments?

This review does not discuss nor make an evaluation of the concepts of life after death as discussed by the author. This review is directed to the character and plot development of the book. Some of the other reviews I have read have indicated that Mr. Matheson is a writer and may have written in a genre categorized as horror stories. I find that hard to believe if this book is a guide.

A significant necessity of a good book is for the reader to be able to have some identification or connection with at least one of the main characters. There was none here. We start from the beginning that Mr. Neilson loved his wife dearly. What really comes across is an obsession, not love. It is very syrupy and asks that you not question whether this is really a loving relationship.

Neilson is very closed minded, as is his wife Anne. After his death, he refuses to accept the fact that he has died, ostensibly because he loves his wife. He refuses to accept his death in the face of overwhelming evidence. He gets very angry at everyone, and very quickly so when they cannot see or feel his presence. Neilson is stubborn and obstinate. “I am right and the world is wrong” appears to be his motto.

Neilson’s wife is not much better, exhibiting similar traits. She refuses to even consider Neilson’s presence when others, including her son Richard (and Percy, the seer), do feel his father’s presence. She has her opinions. There is no afterlife is her belief. As the saying goes, “Don’t bother me with the facts. I have my opinions.” In essence, I found Neilson and his wife to be very unpleasant personalities.

I found this book to be similar to another book entitled “Patriots.” In that book, the author attempted to teach the proper use of weapons and firearms in a survival situation, or post apocalyptic environment. A laudable goal if someone does not want to sit and read dry manuals or dry do it yourself books. However, the characters in that book were so dislikable (and dumb) that it made reading the book very difficult. I ended up putting down the book about a quarter of the way through.

This book suffers from the same infirmity. Again, it is laudable that the author wants to develop his perspective of life after death and may even come to with a foundation which involved having thoroughly researched this area. That is highly commendable. However, the presentation of the characters, and the requirement that we believe that theirs was “loving relationship” despite the conduct of these characters, made this book difficult to read. I made it through the first four chapters before putting it down.

The book was a huge disappointment, not for the concepts of an after life. It was a disappointment due to the development and presentation of the personalities, and their conduct.

15 people found this helpful