Friday, January 6, 2012

Breathers: A Zombie Lament by S. G. Browne

Andy has several problems. Months after a fatal car accident that stole his wife from him, he's attempting to put his life back together. His in-laws are refusing him the right to see his own daughter. His father is vocal about the resentment he holds for him. His mother makes a failed attempt to accept him as she once did. Due to his inability to speak, he can't even verbalize how he feels about the whole ordeal. Not that it matters, his overpriced therapist could care less about Andy's troubles. Hell, he can't even take a walk to clear his thoughts without someone threatening his existence or hurling food and drinks at him. See, Andy problems stems from the fact that his life was also taken in that fatal car accident. However, unlike his wife, Andy didn't stay dead. He walks among the living as one of the undead that has plagued humanity for centuries. That is, Andy is a zombie. Decomposing slowly with the help of consuming shampoo among other every day products that contain formaldehyde. 

Living in his parents basement/wine cellar, he passes the time watching cable TV and feeling resentment. The accident not only left him crippled, it also stole his voice. His only form of communication is the dry erase board that he wears around his neck. The only thing going for Andy are the Undead Anonymous meetings he attends. This is where he met Rita, a suicide who just happened to wake up in the morgue. A budding romance leaves Andy wondering what lies in store. Then there's Jerry, who happens to be the closest thing to a best friend in Andy's post-life. When the trio meet Ray and his Resplendent Rapture - jarred venison - things in their zombie life turn for the better. Andy's speech is returning. His left leg is magically healing. Same with Rita's scars and Jerry's skull. It slowly becomes apparent that venison might not be magical in of itself. Because what they're eating is far from it.

Breathers is possibly the funniest book I've read to date. The way S. G. Browne times his jokes make the read marvelous. It leaves me wondering why I put it off for so long. It's not difficult to see the comparison to any civil rights movement - the narrator even brings it up himself. What makes this book great is that it's not your typical zombie book. The world isn't at the brink of apocalypse or even the dawn of the post-apocalyptic era. Zombies haven't overpowered humans. In fact, they've been around for centuries and kept in the shadows. Not until recent decades has their presence been acknowledged. And they're even treated the way people treated African-Americans and homosexuals - with fear and ignorance. 

The whole zombie civil rights idea aside, the book also judges the humanity of, well, humanity. By shining the light on innocence of children - "Is that true? Are zombies really human?" - to the shear hate of adulthood - "Go back to the grave!" - we're given insight on how outside forces mold our views on what is right and wrong, acceptable and what should be abhorred. It stay true with the Romero-philosophy, the sense that zombies should only bring to realization the way we handle social issues - war, racism, materialism, xenophobia, civil rights, etc. 

But Breathers also brings another aspect of the zombie evolution. The creatures aren't mindless. They are exact reflections of the people they once were. And the vampiric rejuvenation is a nice edition to the zombie mythos. 

It's the zombie book that will become canon, if not already. 

Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Purchase Breathers: A Zombie Lament by S. G. Browne @ [[Amazon]] [[Kindle]] [[B&N]] [[Nook]] [[Kobo]]

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