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Brains: A Zombie Memoir Paperback – Bargain Price, May 25, 2010
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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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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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Meet Jack Barnes, he's a professor/recently turned zombie. He can't voice what he wants to say, but he knows he is different than the others around him. On top of his want for brains, there's something else, a glimmer in his eye or a cognizance, if you have to call it something. He knows he's not like all the other brain-eaters out there. He knows this because he can think and write.
A newly zombified Jack sets out on a cross-country trek to find the creator of the zombie virus, hoping to prove that not all zombies are mindless brain munchers as he quests for zombie/human equality. Along the way, he finds other zombies who are like him and slowly builds a group of zombies who have "talents".
The first cognizant zombie he comes to meet is Joan. She is, or was, a nurse and has the ability to maintain the decomposition zombies face on a daily basis. She can repair and mend injuries with things she finds, like a Dead Doctor McGuyver.
Guts, an eviscerated young zomboy, is the next one to join the ragtag group of zombies with abilities. Not only does he understand, Guts can also run even though he's decomposing at the same rate as every other zombie around him.
Then comes Ros, the first zombie who can converse since he hasn't lost his ability to talk or remember.
Finally, Annie joins the group. The dead little sharpshooter makes for a welcome addition to the ragtag group of undead.
Throughout the entire novel, Robin Becker manages to create humour in what should be a tale about a horrific, zombie-filled world. Becker manages to create feelings of sympathy in the reader for her characters, even though they are zombies. On the flip side, the reader gets to walk a mile in someone else's shoes... on dead legs.
Brains is a fun, well-written, different kind of zombie story for those who want a tale that isn't like all the others.
***Brains: A zombie memoir is recommended as Mandytory reading***
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. They run across an army unit, get captured and caged with some other zombies who had been captured.
It turns out that in this cage are some mindless zombies but also a few that are different like Jack. One, named Joan, was a nurse and still could think and heal the wounds of the zombies, and another named Guts could think and also had the coordination to move fast on his feet. Jack was able to draw pictures of an escape plan and relate that to the other zombies and they did manage to escape. During the escape, one of the soldiers turned into a zombie but could still manage to talk - he joined the group along with Jack. Thus began the journey by a rag-tag team of super-zombies who travel to try and find someone in authority to let them know that they are thinking, capable zombies who should not be killed.
The story is very entertaining, has a sense of humor, and is one of those books you don't want to put down. It's an easy read of 180 or so pages, and will leave you with an entirely different point of view of the coming zombie apocalypse. This is another must-read for anyone who is into the zombie thing, and a great read for anyone else. Recommended!
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