Friday, January 22, 2010
Yeah, I know. I'm lame. The month is over 2/3's over and I've barely had time to review any books. Of course, I'm going to make this a banner reading year. I've already completed 5 books. Hopefully, I can manage to get all of my reviews in a little quicker this year!! I picked up Breathers: A Zombie's Lament by S. G. Browne (320 pgs, Broadway Books, 2009) for one reason only: Chris' recommendation. Which makes it a selection for the 20/10 challenge - Bad Bloggers Category!! Well...that and I happen to love Zombies!!
I wake up on the floor in the darkness.
This is the tale of Andy Warner, zombie. He reanimated after a car crash killed him and his wife. In this world, sometimes the dead reanimate and become zombies. Although there are a lot of different theories, no one actually knows why this happens. It just does. Now Andy lives in his parent's wine cellar. Andy's father can barely contain his disgust over having a zombie for a son. His mother can't even touch him without rubber gloves, Lysol and a can of air freshener (sorry, but zombies are still decaying!) At at least he isn't in a kennel at the SPCA or worse.
When Andy isn't drinking wine or VO5 Shampoo (if you've never needed a daily intake of formaldehyde to keep your decomposition rate slow, you probably wouldn't understand!), he is attending UA meetings. Undead Anonymous is group therapy for the recently undead. Because it takes some adjustment to being a zombie. Literally at the bottom of the food chain, zombies in our society have no rights whatsoever. If a zombie doesn't have a human (or "breather") guardian to claim him, he can be shipped off to a research facility or become a crash test dummy or worse (and yes, there really is a worse!)
It's at the UA meetings that Andy comes to realize how much has been taken away from him after he reanimated. But with the help of his new friends and the lovely Rita, Andy decides it's time for Zombies to have rights too.
Man, where do I begin?? This book is part romance, part zombie/horror, part black comedy and part social statement. It opens with Andy finding out that in a drunken state he murdered, mutilated and stuffed his parents in the side-by-side frig. (not a spoiler...this happens by page 2). The first half of the book shows us how Andy got to this point....then the aftermath. So funny in parts you just can't help giggling, it's a hard book to put down. Andy is such a great character, but in a really warped sort of way. Kind of like Tony Soprano. I mean, when watching The Sopranos, Tony is the anti-hero. You WANT him to succeed. You don't want to see him get arrested, even though you KNOW he's a bad guy. You KNOW he's a killer and had his best friend whacked. And yet, you still cheer him on. Andy is like that. You want him to find happiness with Rita. You want him to win his fight for zombie oppression. And yet, he's still a flesh-eating zombie.
Even through the dark humor of the book, is the underlying social statement of racism, bigotry, and discrimination. Zombies have no rights at all, even though they USED to be human. Are they still? Can you be undead, and yet still have your humanity?? Lots of questions.
But mostly, it's just tongue-in-cheek, black humor. "You don't find many zombies in the southern states, since heat tends to speed up decomposition. That and when you're a zombie in a region that has a reputation of prejudice against minorities and outsiders, you tend to stick out like good taste in a country-western bar."
"Maybe it's just me, but a bunch of reanimated corpses wandering around a graveyard after ten o'clock on a Friday night isn't exactly the best way to break the zombie stereotype."
"Eventually, someone's going to realize my parents aren't home and even if I've managed to get rid of the physical evidence, I'm going to be suspected in their disappearance. But once you eat part of your mother during a candlelight dinner with your undead girlfriend, you pretty much know that you've chosen a path most people just aren't going to understand."
This book is one of those rare gems that you pick up, not knowing that much about....and find out how truly fabulous it is!! If you like zombies, read this book. If you like to laugh, read this book. Hell, it's fun. Read it for no other reason than that!! 4.5/5