Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Breather: One Reader's Lament

A while back ago, I made a promise to myself not to mention zombies or vampires ever again in this blog. These are my fallback topics, the ones I write about to show that I have nothing to write about. But today, I have something to write about... and unfortunately that something is zombies. Go figure.

I just finished the book Breathers: A Zombie's Lament by S.G. Browne. Three sentences into it I developed a massive headache. You see, the narrator of this story is a zombie. Let me repeat that... he's a zombie. Slight problem there: ZOMBIES DON'T THINK! Even if it was written in the third person this would pose a significant challenge.

When lumbering down the street, Andy thought, "Brains brains brains brains braaaaaaiiiinnsss."

To avoid this dilemma, the author has thrown years of zombie lore out the window and made them sentient beings. This is fascinating idea if handled properly. It could be like the breakthrough (and subsequent overuse) of the fast moving zombie from 28 Days Later. This is not that. To make sentient zombies, you have to confront two issues.

First, history is against you. Going back to the voudou (or voodoo) origins of the zombie concept, the "undead" (or as the case has been made, highly drugged) weren't known for their free will. Perhaps they could think, but they weren't quite "thinking" at that point. So begins the popularization of the non-thinking (or at least single minded) zombie.

Secondly, the science is against you. Yes, I realize it's ridiculous to speak of science when discussing something as imaginary as zombies. Ridiculous yet necessary. I won't get into specifics here (due to the gross factor) but the author doesn't address this topic in a satisfactory way.

Now, all purist bellyaching aside, the book is a fun read. There is humor, romance, even a political stance. Just don't think too hard about it. (See what I did there? "Don't think?" Yeah... it's come to that.)
posted by jw