- Paperback: 310 pages
- Publisher: Three Rivers Press; Original edition (March 3, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0767930614
- ISBN-13: 978-0767930611
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (157 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Breathers: A Zombie's Lament Paperback – March 3, 2009
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Silent Corner" by Dean Koontz
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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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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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Top Customer Reviews
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. I think this may have been the first clue. Actual venison doesn't taste like chicken. It's a lot more like beef; at least when I've eaten it. But the main character had not eaten it, so didn't have a basis of comparison. And even if Ray shared it with someone who had tasted real venison before, Andy also mentioned they don't retain their sense of taste, so they likely wouldn't recall if it was right. Though that does bring up the question: How did he know it tastes like chicken?
I really enjoyed the first three quarters of this. The end of this book, I really disliked. From here on out, pretty big spoilers, all right?
I was entertained by the gradually developing clues that Ray's Resplendent Rapture was not venison, their gradual healing. I was quite surprised by the sudden ability for Andy to develop an erection and then have fantastic sex with Rita. He'd said his blood didn't flow. That was their final clue, at which point they figured out what they'd been eating.
Everyone was fairly all right with this. I realize I'm thinking like a zombie, and as Andy says repeatedly throughout the book, I probably wouldn't understand. But I'd really want to know how Ray acquired his meat. That would be important to me. Maybe he'd killed someone in self-defense? It feels weird contemplating the ethics of cannibalism, but it gets explored in vampire fiction all the time, right? Everyone was very all right with suddenly eating flesh. I thought it actually might have been interesting if they pursued the civil rights for zombies more thoroughly. Perhaps they could arrange for organ donors for zombies. But the whole civil rights angle wound up feeling like little more than a red herring, by the end.
Andy blacking out and murdering his parents wasn't really given enough thought. He didn't seem concerned with the implications that something like that might happen again. Is it something that can happen to any zombie at any time, or just Andy?
Rita's pregnancy was really problematic for me. I found it odd that they didn't try to find a zombie who'd been a doctor, to try to help her out. Her situation was unique and a Breather doctor would never have worked, but a zombie might have. I don't know how likely it is that they could have found one, but while they're banned from the internet and can't network, Ian didn't really have those restrictions, since he wasn't known to be dead. Anyway, the pregnancy brought up a lot of questions. Would she "miscarry" if she didn't eat Breather on a regular basis? Would the baby be decomposing? And, at 5 weeks pregnant, how did she even know? If her period had come back, I don't think enough time had really passed in the book for her to notice missing one. Was she experiencing morning sickness? Was she just randomly taking pregnancy tests due to other bodily functions returning?
I felt Rita's death was a cheap way to avoid answering all of these questions. By the end, I didn't see how the book could reasonably end with anything other than Andy's death. It felt like a lazy ending, though, to avoid examining these things.
I did enjoy it, um, I'm trying to think what it reminded me of, ummmmmm, Stephanie Plum but written by a man? I don't know, it was a bit on the "chicky" side for me, perhaps that was the romance part of the story. Trying to think when I like romance type stories and the closest I can come is Pat Conroy, depression and agony..
Which this story has, in that it's a bit tragic too, but very tongue-in-cheek humorous too, perhaps a bit of social satire thrown in.
No point in describing the story, or give any spoilers here, which was done in the editorial reviews above, which I think is in bad form, but I digress.
If you like the genre and don't mind some graphic (not really horror) and sexual situations, you'll probably like it, and no, it's not like that trash Fifty Shades of Grey, this book is written 100 times more skillfully than that, I don't know what made me think of that, I guess thinking about weird sex.
Okay, one spoiler: "Is zombie on zombie still necro?" Paraphrased from the book, but the line I laughed the most from, and there were a few other funny situations, it's a good fun read and I do recommend it (if you're into this kind of thing).
S.G. Browne's 'Breathers: A Zombie's Lament' is a fun read from a very different point of view...the zombie's, specifically Andy. Over time and while attending his 'Undead Anonymous 'meetings Andy decides that it is unfair the way zombies are treated. They have rights, too. So he and some of his friends begin a quest to make some changes. Oh...and Andy falls in love with one of his group members Rita.
This is definitely not your typical zombie read. It is very entertaining, but a bit slow at times. The characters are quite hysterical when you stop to think about what they would look and sound like considering their means of death. I greatly enjoyed the dialogue between the various members of the group. It was witty and sarcastic yet, at times, very thoughtful. The setting is a normal everyday town and some of the various homes of our characters. As for the gore, there is definitely some violence and flesh eating, but as mentioned earlier, this is not your typical zombie novel, so even this role of the undead is played differently.
I am pleased to have 'Breathers: A Zombie's 'Lament 'on my bookshelf and definitely suggest you add it to yours as well.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The plot is brilliant. You will fall in love with the Undead Anonymous crew.Read more