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Brains: A Zombie Memoir Paperback – May 25, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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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 (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
a slightly different take on zombies - i'm not a real fan of zombies - they're dead, generally they can't run - try to avoid them - I would read the back of cereal box though so this was OK. self-assigned reading for a panel presentation
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Brains is more than a bit graphic, more than a bit gross and completely strange. It is also funny, entertaining and philosophically unsettling. First, the book addresses the question "What would a sentient Zombie be like?" And the answer is - like a violent version of Knut Hamsun's protagonist in "Hunger"...obsessed with food and feeding and slowly disintegrating. That seems likely what an American zombie would be like, craving freedom, equality and brains. Secondly, the novel also deals with our militarized, apocalypse obsessed society and has a disturbing conclusion as to who gets to be included in the national project. Third, it adds an intelligent and thoughtful strand to the narrative arc of recent zombie fiction, eschewing the shoot 'em up hero story for something much much more interesting.
I hope there is a sequel in the works?
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Format: Paperback
I consider myself a connoisseur of zombie fiction, so I did not find this an especially unique idea; sentient zombies have been done before: the iZombie graphic novels and television show, Darren Shan's Zom-B series, the Resurgam Trilogy by Joan Frances Turner, and even in George Romero's Land of the Dead.
The main character is lovable at a few points, but overall, I didn't find myself in his corner. I thought that the build up took a little too long, but the supporting characters were ultimately what saved the story. I did enjoy reading this quick read, and it was nice to have something clearly for an older audience (evident through the swearing and allusions).
If you are an older teen or adult who enjoyed any of the stories I listed above, this is worth a try.
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