« Afraid / Jack Kilborn | Main | Flesh Is Fleeting...Art Is Forever / Gary A. Braunbeck; Thin Them Out / Kim Paffenroth, R.J. Sevin and Julia Sevin »

Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament / S.G. Browne

Broadway Books / March 2009
Reviewed by: Martel Sardina

If you’ve never woken up to discover that you’ve become an animated, rotting corpse, then you need to read S.G. Browne’s Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament to prepare yourself for the world that awaits should you ever become the victim of spontaneous resurrection.

Andy Warner has already suffered that fate. Andy was a happily married father until a car accident turned his world upside down. Andy lost his wife, Rachel, in the accident. Their daughter, Annie, has been taken in by relatives and is unaware of her father’s resurrection. Andy is trying to adjust to his new life as one of the undead. However, the world he came back to does not want him.

In Andy’s world, zombies are second-class citizens, if they can be considered citizens at all. They have no rights. They can’t get jobs. Attempts to interact with the living – or “Breathers” – usually end with a trip to the SPCA where they are held in cages like stray animals until being reclaimed by their guardians. Unclaimed zombies often end up in zoos or are sold to medical research facilities, which is exactly where Andy would be if his father had a say in the matter. Fortunately, his mother hasn’t completely given up on her son.

Andy’s parents claimed him from the SPCA and brought him home. They allow him to live in their wine cellar. (Well, you can’t have a zombie stinking up the whole house, now can you?) They pay for him to see a therapist and have encouraged him to get involved with Undead Anonymous, an organization that will no doubt help him in the struggle to make sense of his return.

It is what happens after Andy realizes that being undead doesn’t mean his “life” can’t have a purpose that the fun kicks into high gear.

Last year, Daniel Waters showed us what the world would be like if zombies were allowed to reintegrate into society in Generation Dead. Waters gave readers a plausible explanation for why the dead come back and why some are higher functioning than others. Browne does not offer an explanation for the zombie resurgence. Readers are asked to accept that the zombies are here and that they function cognitively as the same level that they did prior to their death. While this reviewer felt Waters explanation enhanced the story, Browne’s lack of explanation does not impede a reader’s ability to “believe.”

Both Generation Dead and Breathers share some common ground in terms of how zombies are viewed by society at large. While Waters takes a more serious approach to the underlying theme of racial discrimination, readers will no doubt enjoy Browne’s satirical approach. This reviewer makes her comparisons based on content, but must mention that the markets for the two novels are wholly different. Generation Dead is a YA novel; Breathers is not. It contains violence and gore and with lines like, “Is it really necrophilia if we’re both dead?” proves that it is intended for mature audience. That said, adults who read Generation Dead but wished it had incorporated more of what readers expect to see in zombie fiction will be pleasantly surprised with Breathers as a result.

Purchase Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament by S.G. Browne.

Posted on Sunday, February 8, 2009 at 10:24AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | CommentsPost a Comment

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.
Member Account Required
You must have a member account on this website in order to post comments. Log in to your account to enable posting.