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Brains: A Zombie Memoir Paperback – May 25, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Becker's slender debut novella is an unusual take on the zombie genre: part Grapes of Wrath, part postmodern memoir. A virus outbreak turns millions of people into mindless zombies, and the remaining humans declare war on the undead. Zombified English professor Jack Barnes discovers that he has retained his memories and his consciousness. Joined by several other sentient zombies, Barnes sets off to find the virus's creator in hopes of presenting a treatise on zombie civil rights. Barnes's dogged entitlement and self-centeredness make him both uninteresting and unbearable, and while Becker's writing is crisp, the plot meanders like its characters, consisting of little more than cannibalistic feasts and tin-eared literary and pop culture references (Hell is other zombies; Perhaps life as a zombie is better than no life at all). (June)
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From Booklist

Since being cornered and bitten in his home by a swarm of zombies, former college professor Jack Barnes has found a new love: brains. Not just any brains, but “bubbly, bewitching, bedazzling brains.” While he may be a zombie (he ate his wife shortly after being turned), a classic, arms-outstretched, shambling zombie he is not. He has something special that the rest of the infected don't: self-awareness. That and his ability to write convince him to go to Chicago to find the scientist who created the virus responsible for zombification and, he hopes, end the war between the living and the dead. En route he meets a few “like-minded” undead compatriots, all with varying degrees of sentience, to help him on his quest: Joan, once a nurse, who is particularly skilled at patching up body parts; Guts, a young man who can still run with the best of them; pregnant Eve, whom Jack falls for after biting off her finger; and Ros, a spokesman of sorts, since he's still able to talk. Becker's humorous first-person narrative will have readers rooting for the zombie crew, and she keeps the action moving at breakneck pace. Smart, funny, weirdly uplifting, Brains is a most welcome addition to zombie lit. --Carlos Orellana
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 182 pages
  • Publisher: Eos; 1St Edition edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061974056
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061974052
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,179,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robin Becker is waiting for the Zombie Apocalypse in Toad Suck, Arkansas. In the meantime, she fishes for giant monsters, plays sloppy guitar, and teaches writing at the University of Central Arkansas. Robin's short fiction has appeared in the Exquisite Corpse Annual, Cottonwood, Blue Mesa Review, Griffin and others. She is the recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship in short fiction from the Arkansas Arts Council. She has watched hundreds of zombie movies and her dream is to be an extra zombie in a Romero film. Brains is her debut novel. Visit for more.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Sicurella VINE VOICE on May 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
Brains: A Zombie Memoir is told unique as it is told through a zombie's perspective. The book's hilarious, starting off with Geraldo Rivera interviewing a zombie and riddled with pop culture references. The humor continues throughout the novel, but lessens towards the middle of the book once the zombies have to start actively focusing on survival.

A few of the zombies, the ones primary to the story, are self-aware. One is fast, one can speak, one can perform first aid, one can shoot and the main character can write. There is also a pregnant zombie that ultimately has to give birth.

Robin Becker's book is based on a strange premise, making it rather different from other books in the genre. The reader is put into a zombie's head, thinking a zombie's thoughts. I'm a huge zombie fan, but never once did I ever consider the world through their eyes. Jack, zombie who had a Ph.D. in life, leads the self-aware zombies. He learns along the way that once people became zombies, the playing field was level. There were no class or race distinction. It was quite interesting to see the subtle message among the gore.

Brains: A Zombie Memoir is a light, quick read that allows you to shamble a mile in a zombie's shoes.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Parrish on July 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
A band of zombies who, surprising even to them, can think, plan, and communicate, embarks on a journey to negotiate with their maker, the Chicago scientist who invented the virus infecting them. Along the way they must evade capture by armed citizens and militias; the virus is transmitted through biting, and the country is being overrun. They must also feed an insatiable appetite for living flesh and an epicurean taste for brains.

BRAINS is every bit as funny as its premise demands. The humor is bold, sassy, and never tires as the story proceeds. Author Robin Becker, a teacher of writing, is in complete command of the language. Numerous references to pop culture create an air of irreverence and sarcasm that lend themselves naturally to the outrageous scenario. Told from the perspective of the zombies, in particular the former college professor who leads them after first devouring his wife, BRAINS is a ground breaking contribution to the genre. I was rooting for the walking dead and couldn't wait to learn whether their mission would succeed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bill Nelson of WeZombie on February 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
Another debut author novel, another novel from the zombie perspective, another great read. Lately there are lot of debut zombie authors and a lot of new books coming from the zombie perspective, and yet I am still being surprised because each one of these novels are completely different and provide a new perspective that hasn't been done before. With her book Brains, Becker has written a funny yet heartwarming story and has managed to turn a zombie into a hero.

The book opens with college professor Jack Barnes and his wife fighting off a zombie horde attacking their house in a small Missouri town, and they're running out of luck. They retreat to the basement and lock themselves in (I know better, but they didn't) and of course things go bad. It turns out the professor has already been bitten in the fighting and now he is locked in the basement with his wife. There is a funny but sad dialogue between them as they figure out that this is not a good situation. I enjoyed the dialogue, but wish it would have ended better. The result is that zombie Jack Barnes is born and he found something to eat as soon as he turned. The amazing thing about zombie Jack is that he can still think and even write - he begins a diary of his zombie life and this is the zombie memoir mentioned in the title - a very clever premise.

Jack wanders aimlessly with other zombies, but immediately notices how he is different from the other zombies who seem not able to dodge a weapon or hide from their attackers. They provide good cover until he finds a home in a pickup bed under a tarp, and gets driven to a truck stop where he meets a pregnant girl named Eve that he had just bitten, and they head off together, walking through cornfields and roads - anywhere to get away from the truck stop.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By StephTheBookworm on November 7, 2013
Format: Paperback
This was certainly a unique twist on the zombie genre which I’ve come to love in recent months. In fact, I’d go so far as to say this was literary zombie fiction. It wasn’t all blood and guts, though it did include a lot of both. It was smart too, and satirical. The story is mostly about Jack, trying to find his place in the world now that the world, and himself, have both changed drastically. He understands that zombies are different, and that they aren’t accepted (because they eat HUMANS!), but he strives to change all that and he chronicles the journey in his memoir. The zombies in this story garnered friendships, felt emotions such as friendship and animosity, and schemed plenty too. Not only did they crave brains, they HAD brains too.

All that said, I thought this book was pretty funny at times. Not ‘laugh out loud’ funny, but silly and fun. It was incredibly original and interesting. Despite all of this, I didn’t LOVE the book. I did enjoy it for the most part, but felt that it could be a bit slow moving at times, and wasn’t as developed as it could have been. I liked the characters, particularly Ros, the speaking zombie who had some pretty good one-liners, but would have liked to see more character development, maybe a little more back story for some of them.

I’d recommend this one if you’re a zombie fan looking for something different.
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