Zombies are a very popular subject matter these days, with movies, horror novels, anthologies, and many graphic novels being written, created and published about the living dead. Many of them seek to terrify the reader with gruesome details, while the movies involving the undead running at ridiculous speeds attempt to make viewers scream. Then there are those stories that feature zombies – and vampires and werewolves – in a lust-filled, sexual mishmash that I really don’t want to think about.
And then there’s Breathers.
Breathers is a fun, funny, and at times serious look at the life of someone who one day wakes up and is a zombie. How much would your life change? How would your parents not only think of you, but treat you? Would they allow you to live in their home (formerly your home)? What about your social life?
Breathers is the story of Andy Warner who has just this happen to him. It’s a world where zombies are seen as less than real people . . . because they aren’t. They have no rights, no respect from anyone, and are hounded and ridiculed by all who see them. Andy lives with his parents, in the basement, where he’s not allowed to interact very much with them, certainly not eat with them or engage in social gatherings. When outside, he must keep away from crowded areas, and is not allowed to socialize with large groups of zombies. His “un-life” is pretty much pointless.
But that all changes when he begins attending a help group known as Undead Anonymous. There he befriends some fellow zombies and gets close to a girl named Rita. The help group is allowed by the government as it helps to enforce the laws telling zombies what they can and cannot do; mostly cannot. And then things begin to change when they bring some new friends along who share this tasty venison that miraculously seems to make the zombies feel better and even heal the wounds that caused their deaths.
S. G. Browne has created a very entertaining, tongue-in-check and matter-of-fact novel about zombies and how they would be treated by the human race who has done so well in the past with anything that is different. Browne is never over the top or preachy, but many of his words echo off events and reactions of humanity’s past. And ultimately it does leave one asking themselves a question: how would you treat a zombie if they knocked on your door?
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Originally written on January 11th, 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.