Monday, March 19, 2012

Review: Breathers by S.G. Browne

Title: Breathers
Author: S.G. Browne
Series: N/A
Pages: 310
Publisher: Broadway
Publishing Date: March 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
Genre: Post-Apocalypse/Zombies
Source: Library

Meet Andy Warner, a recently deceased everyman and newly minted zombie. Resented by his parents, abandoned by his friends, and reviled by a society that no longer considers him human, Andy is having a bit of trouble adjusting to his new existence. But all that changes when he goes to an Undead Anonymous meeting and finds kindred souls in Rita, an impossibly sexy recent suicide with a taste for the formaldehyde in cosmetic products, and Jerry, a twenty-one-year-old car-crash victim with an exposed brain and a penchant for Renaissance pornography. When the group meets a rogue zombie who teaches them the joys of human flesh, things start to get messy, and Andy embarks on a journey of self-discovery that will take him from his casket to the SPCA to a media-driven class-action lawsuit on behalf of the rights of zombies everywhere.

My Review:
Breathers was an interesting combination of darkness and humor. I haven't found a zombie book of a similar mood or feeling to it. Somehow, it managed to be simultaneously laugh-out-loud funny and almost heart-breaking when you deal with the poor zombie's struggles. It's a little bit hopeful, a ton sarcastic, and a huge heaping full of morbid...but some of us like those things ya know??
“If you've never woken up from a car accident to discover that your wife is dead and you're an animated, rotting corpse, then you probably wouldn't understand. ”
Zombies in this world are generally acknowledged as normal, but they are also creatures to be feared and held in contempt. Though they've been roaming around for years, living on the fringes of society, no one accepts them as the former people they are. It's actually a pretty great satire of racism. These zombies aren't infected by some virus and definitely aren't the mindless bloodthirsty shamblers that most of the zombie fiction contains. These zombies are humans...just dead humans. The "breathers" treat zombies like dirty filthy animals, despite the fact that they used to be human. Now these misunderstood and mistreated former humans are struggling to deal with life after death, and contemplating just what it means to be a human.

I was seriously surprised by how deep Breathers is. I never in my life thought to say that a zombie romantic comedy (Zom-Com) would be an intellectual smorgasbord for the mind ...yet it was. The beginning chapters of the book, and most of the rest of the book, is a continuing satire of racial discrimination that could probably be replaced by the rights of ...African Americans, Gay's, Women...etc....and have it be an accurate portrayal of the above struggle for legal rights. You also get to see how zombies are treated as second class citizens and it puts a really great spin on equal-rights movements.
 "If you've never been in a dumpster coated with industrial waste while someone stabs you with a piece of sharpened rebar, then you probably wouldn't understand..."
Though it was an intensely deep piece when compared to most of the genre, it also stood out in it's amazing comedy and the plain hilarity of being undead. I was practically choking with glee while listening to the recipe of Roast Mom Ribs and a side of Dad casserole. Andy's story doesn't just have one makes you want to cry into your pillow, but then chuckle with dark and twisty glee as Andy twirls his best friend's tendons around a fork like spaggetti.
Breathers gets a nice 4 Keys from me. It really brings to life the struggles that the undead Americans face in the world today. It actually makes you want to be a zombie instead of one of the "survivors" that you usually root for with zombie fiction. I'm not sure every reader will be happy with it....there's no chainsaws or flamethrowers for one, and it also is a much more thoughtful and meaningful read than most people are looking for in this kind of genre. To be honest...I kind of missed my gruesome zombie attacks and hopeless struggles for survival against the masses. But there is definitely a spot for this kind of book with those of you who like quirky, slightly-off-kilter humor and a good satire of the way we live.


  1. Ha this sounds freaking awesome! Love the sounds of it! Great review Andra!!

  2. I haven't read a zombie book yet but I like the sound of this book! I like that it mixes humor with the thought-provoking topic of discrimination. Thanks for sharing this information! I appreciate reading reviews about books that I might have otherwise missed :)