Monday, November 16, 2009

Book review: Breathers, by S.G. Browne

It seems like a new zombie novel is being written everyday. Many of them are the same -- zombies come back to life, attack people, eat people, and cause major havoc. But Breathers, by S.G. Browne, is a totally different kind of zombie novel (sort of).

Breathers is a zombie novel in the sense that it's "about" zombies. In fact, it's much more about zombies than any other zombie novel I've read. The book delves into social, political, and humane issues that focus on the undead but could really pertain to any minority in some way. In addition to being somewhat allegorical, Breathers is hilarious.

Andy Warner is a zombie. He died in a car crash and came back to life, much to his family's (and his own) surprise. He's not the first person to reanimate, and like all the other zombies, Andy is treated like a pariah.

Breathers chronicles Andy's undeath, giving readers valuable insight into the mind and spirit of a modern California zombie and his struggle for equality. The book is written in the first person present tense, which works well for this story and which the author has a genuine knack for. S.G. Browne's conversational tone and darkly comic first-person narration are strongly reminiscent of another talented author, Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke).

Browne has a keen ability to bring his characters into sharp focus, which -- even though they're not alive -- makes them real to the reader and keeps the story flowing along. Never before have zombies been so easy to sympathize with and so natural to root for.

Breathers starts off slow, as a drawn-out flashback, but the story builds toward a roller-coaster climax that any horror fan will enjoy. The book will also appeal to readers who like dark humor and those who love to see the underdog put up a good fight.

In the words of the main character: "Is it necrophilia if we're both dead?"


Charles Gramlich said...

THat sounds interesting. Yes, most of the zombie stories/flicks are almost interchangeable. Glad this one has something different to offer.

MkCrittenden said...

Zombie stuff. Just very hard to get wrapped around the idea. I saw a zombie movie where they tried to create sympathy for the zombie ( I think it was "Dawn of the Dead", although I'm not sure- like most people who forget zombie movies almost immediately after they see them). The idea just fell flat. I wish people the best who are trying to break new ground with this, because I doubt the zombie can ever be anything more that it's originally intended movie persona...a shambling chunk of surface noise, a prop, a means to create tension within a larger plot. Groaning and moaning. There just isn't much else there. That's my take on it.

Greg Schwartz said...

Charles - yeah, Breathers is definitely different. It's a well-written book... think you'd like it.

Mark - I certainly see your point, but this book is different. The narrator is a zombie, who can walk and talk and think. The book is interesting and intriguing, and it brings a social/intellectual perspective to the zombie genre.

MkCrittenden said...

Okay, Now your making me want to buy it. LOL (desired effect reached.)

Rhonda Parrish said...

...and Breathers is going to be made into a movie, which is also pretty darn cool :)

Greg Schwartz said...

Mark - you should buy it, it's a great read.

Rhonda - that's pretty cool, I think it would make a good movie. Lots of stuff going on in it. Thanks for the book!

Rhonda Parrish said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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