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Breathers: A Zombie's Lament Paperback – March 3, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 155 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Browne's black comedy debut brilliantly reinvents zombie culture for the 21st century. Andy Warner reanimates after the car accident that kills his wife, but is too mangled from his injuries to talk. He lives in his parents' wine cellar, occasionally attending a zombie support group and struggling to rejoin a society that offers the undead no rights, bans them from working and doesn't even punish those who destroy them. When Andy and his fellow zombies—notably Rita, a sexy suicide victim with a lipstick fetish, and Jerry, a Playboy-obsessed stoner—learn why they're so driven to consume human flesh, the repercussions are both tragic and hilarious. Browne neatly mixes humor and extreme violence with a surprisingly tender love story, some witty social satire and an extremely strong narrative voice. (Mar.)
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From Booklist

Andy’s life is a mess. A newly risen zombie, he’s forced to live in his parents’ basement, attend Undead Anonymous meetings just to get out of the house, and endure abuse of all kinds from the living. To make matters worse, he can’t even talk, though that’s because his mouth was sewn shut prior to being embalmed. Things begin to look up when Andy meets Rita, a gorgeous zombie who slashed her own wrists and throat; nebbish, vegetarian Tom, whose arm was stolen by a pack of drunken frat boys; and Ray, an undead renegade who introduces the gang to the wonders of eating “breathers.” Some die-hard horror aficionados may find this take on zombies too full of shtick (e.g., the running joke that falls flat by its second appearance), but Browne confidently balances a love story with ample amounts of gore and gags that should win over fans of George Romero (Night of the Living Dead et seq.) and fans of Shaun of the Dead, too. A welcome deviation in zombie lit. --Carlos Orellana
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; Original edition (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767930614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767930611
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #360,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jennifer Wardrip VINE VOICE on March 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
BREATHERS was an impulse Amazon buy, recommended when I purchased a separate zombie anthology. I don't usually give in to impulse buys (I have too many must-haves on my reading list as it is), but I'm so glad I decided to give into this one!

This book has it all - the blood and gore of typical zombie fare, but also romance (who wouldn't love a twenty-something hottie, even with the stitches at her wrists and throat, who happens to eat lipstick like it was going out of style), humor (I'm sorry, but breather disguised as venison is pure genius), murder (the opening scene is a husband-wife body part freezer bonanza), and an undead support group (yes, they even have field trips).

It's a quick read, and it is just so, so good. Andy, the main character, simply wants his life back, even if he is a member of the undead. As a member of society who now has absolutley no rights whatsoever, it's a lot more difficult than it sounds.

But if you've never had to drink VO5 shampoo (and sometimes conditioner) to get your formaldahyde fix, or had your arm ripped out of its socket only to be beaten over the head with it, or been shot in the face by a Social Security Administration guard, or been traumatized by frat boys in a cemetery, then you probably wouldn't understand what I'm talking about.

Seriously, just go buy it.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Andy Warner is a 30-something who lives in his parents' basement, drinking their wine and not contributing to society. This isn't so unusual except for the fact that Andy is a decomposing, smelly, zombie who reanimated following a fatal car wreck that killed him and his wife. He spends most of his time watching his skin slough off, listening to his father complain about the smell and hassle of housing a zombie son, shuffling his way back and forth between sessions with an overly Botoxed therapist and his Undead Anonymous (UA) support group, and chugging as much formaldehyde-laden products as he can to slow down his decomp. He develops a heavy crush on Rita, a fellow UA attendee, but how do you charm an undead suicide when your voicebox is crushed? On top of all that, Andy and his undead friends can't even take a walk without Breathers throwing insults and food items at them or drunken fraternity pledges ripping off their body parts. In Andy's world, the undead have no rights and can be abused by any of the living at any time.

It's hard out here for a zombie.

Then Andy and his pals meet Ray, a self-sufficient zombie who hunts for his own food and lives as far away as possible from the Breathers. They all bond over booze and good food, and Andy begins to see a possibility of a better unlife, one with civil rights, a job, a social security number, and possibly Rita. He stages some protests, gets pelted with a variety of fast foods, and has to be bailed out of the SPCA by his sputtering father on more than one occasion.

But he's making progress in his quest to secure equal rights for the undead and love for himself.

Browne delivers a funny little zombie novel with a more light-hearted approach than the standard undead fare.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Breathers starts with a fairly amusing premise that capitalizes on the current zombie craze, and delivers pretty much what it seems like it will... a bit of entertaining popcorn. There is poignancy in the main character's story of losing his wife and finding himself resurrected, and a bit of tragedy and heroism at the end, but for the most part the book is an easy, unchallenging read filled with zombie quips and a recurring "If you're not a zombie, you probably wouldn't understand" joke, which honestly got kind of irritating after the 15th interation or so.

Still, it's an amusing, light read, and a pleasant diversion. It would be good airplane reading.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book started out promising, but began to wear on my nerves. From his pretentious wine plugs, desperate attempts to be "in the know" with his pop culture/TV references, and the use of the phrase "Unless you (fill in the blank) then you probably wouldn't understand." And I hope you can read code because the typos run rampant.
I really wanted to like this book, but in the end it just fell flat.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are spoilers throughout this review.

Initially I really enjoyed this. Setting aside the opening scene, I really felt for the main character, who lost his wife in a car accident, which killed them both, but he spontaneously reanimated. He found himself in a world that reviled him. He had a daughter whom he was no longer allowed to see or even to contact via letter. His parents took him in, but his father pretty openly despised him, and while his mother obviously still loved him, she obviously couldn't cope with what he'd become. It was a picture of hopelessness and loneliness. We're introduced to the other zombies, who all carry with them the marks of their fatal injuries.

I really would have liked to know more about what Andy's relationship with his parents was like when he was alive. He never gets into that. I don't need details, but I assume his father didn't always hate the sight of him. Some idea of what they were like would've really added to things.

One recurring incident that was amusing, but kind of inexplicable was people throwing their food at zombies whenever they saw one. I initially thought nothing of it, but when people began throwing half a sandwich, it started becoming implausible. I just don't see myself wasting a sandwich I'd fully intended to eat, to throw it at a zombie. Surely if I were throwing something at a zombie I would choose something more likely to injure it and slow it down. Eventually Andy, our narrator, observes that people seem to be going out and buying food specifically to throw it at him, and that's just weird.

When Ray was introduced, it was fairly obvious what his jars of "venison" really were. Something I noticed at first was the main character saying it tasted like chicken.
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