Social Icons

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Breathers: A Zombie's Lament - guest review

I'm excited to announce that Zombies & Toys has its first guest review! Introducing Jason Stein of Jason Takes Portland. Jason was kind enough to offer his time to bring us a review of what I feel is one of the best books I have read this year.

Those who have been around for awhile are familiar with my praise of the book. So now you get to hear it from someone else.

In order to keep established mythologies fresh, story tellers will change around the particulars to give their version of how it "really" is. Author S. G. Brown’s book, Breathers: A Zombie's Lament, creates an entirely new zombie mythology. In Brown's world, zombies are people who randomly reanimate after death and still possess the ability to think and talk (if their death left the required organs intact). Since they are undead, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" does not apply to them. This means that they are not permitted in public without a "breathing" escort, have a job, must abide by curfews, and are frequently ridiculed (or worse) by the public. Fraternity pledges are particularly threatening to a zombie’s well-being. Violating these laws usually results in getting rounded up by animal control. If impounded and not claimed, the captured are sent to a zombie zoo or turned into a crash test dummy.

The focus of Breathers is on Andy, a thirty-something who is re-animated after a car accident that leaves only his young daughter alive. Now Andy lives in his parent's wine cellar, takes Pine Sol baths to mask the odor of decay, writes protest signs, and attends the weekly support group, Zombies Anonymous. Since Andy's vocal cords were damaged in the crash, we follow his internal thoughts and dialogue as he struggles to cope with his new existence and attempts for legitimacy. We also follow his courtship of a fellow zombie in his support group; Ready for some zombie loving? The numerous scenes in the self-help group combined with Brown’s writing style are reminiscent of Chuck Palahniuk’s novels, Fight Club and Choke.

Brown takes the story in some interesting directions that make a lot of sense. These directions and details left me wondering why no one had ever thought of them before. Explaining the various developments would ruin the fun and discovery for the reader so you’ll have to learn about them yourself. Unfortunately, I felt that the story fell apart in the last 30 pages. Brown seemed to be pressed for a conclusion and wrote an end scenario that was rushed and unsatisfying. Regardless, the rest of the book is so good that it is a must read for zombie fans.


  1. Interesting enough premise, though vaguely similar to FIDO. Sounds like fun to me!

  2. Ahhh, FIDO, I love that movie. Breathers is similar in that it is way not the norm for a zombie story.

    Breathers is without a doubt the most unique take on the genre I have seen or read. The story is constantly moving, never gets stale, and enlightens the reader with new developments at just the right moments.

    And, personally, I liked the ending. A definite must-read.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.