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Meet Quentin P., the most believably terrifying sexual psychopath and killer ever brought to life in fiction. The author deftly puts you inside the mind of a serial killer--succeeding not in writing about madness, but in writing with the logic of madness.

181 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1995

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About the author

Joyce Carol Oates

910 books7,791 followers
Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is also the recipient of the 2005 Prix Femina for The Falls. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. Pseudonyms ... Rosamond Smith and Lauren Kelly.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,585 reviews
Profile Image for Iyanna.
17 reviews16 followers
July 30, 2008
I HATED this book! It was excellently written and it did what it was supposed to do...it scared the crap out of me. This is a character study of a social deviant. I don't want to spoil this for anyone who reads it, so I won't give away the ending, but definitely not something you read while lying on the beach catching your tan. No escapism here. You come face to face with the evil and cunning of the sociopathic and psychotic mind. Be prepared to bathe in Dettol and then curl up in bed under the covers next to your favorite stuffed animal with your thumb in your mouth, your night light on and your mommy on the phone 'til you go to sleep when you finish reading it. Kudos to Joyce Carol Oates for what I consider a brave, realistic creepy and excellently executed foray into the criminal mind. But I still HATED it...in a good way.
Profile Image for BlackOxford.
1,081 reviews68.1k followers
February 18, 2022
A Meditation on Psycopathy

Oates reminds her readers that there are people who cannot be considered human. They lack something essential, some ‘wetware’ without which they never fit comfortably among others. This implies a scale of humanness. Some are more human than others. This is the implication of Oates’s journey inside the mind of a fictional psychopath.

Psychopathy is not something that any society confronts comfortably. These people are defective, not mad. How can they be identified? By what criteria can we make a judgment to treat them as the sub-humans that they are?

Terrorists, school-shooters, racist skinheads, violent political activists - most of these are technically sane yet something is missing. There may be understandable genetic or environmental reasons for their behaviour but the fact that they are immune to reason suggests that they cannot be considered as full members of human society.

But no one, it can be argued, is quite sure what constitutes human reason. Nonetheless, whatever it is must start from the premise that argument, that is to say language, is the tool for conducting and, with luck, resolving disputes. It is skill in the use of language, therefore, which is the distinguishing mark of the more human.

How to measure such skill? The very narrow skill of the scientist’s exposition among like-minded colleagues? The rhetorical skill of a lawyer presenting an emotional appeal to a jury? The manipulatively mendacious skill of a Trump addressing one of his populist rallies? These are all highly skilled in their way.

In fact many are so skilled in language that they can provoke precisely the inhuman behaviour that language should permit us to avoid. Their skill can promote revolution, which is necessarily violent, by using language against itself. Language does not exist on its own. It is contained and expressed in institutions - courts, professions, political parties - which have strict rules for how language can be used. Skill in employing these rules is often more important than the skill of language itself.

These institutions define the language that may be used and the reasons which are admissible in argument. The likelihood of revolution is proportional to the seriousness of the reasons excluded as invalid. Expanding the base of valid reasons in institutional argumentation has been the real achievement of liberal democracy. Anyone who seeks to reduce the reasons available for institutionalised argument (which is the equivalent of restricting democratic participation) is a psychopath.

The psychopath does not argue with reasons; he states opinions as they occur to him - particularly about institutions involving language. Giving reasons is precisely what the psychopath does not do. The psychopath has no reasons, only urges. The psychopath doesn’t want to extend the range of reasons acceptable in debate. The psychopath detests all reasons in deference to his urges.

The psychopath is frightening precisely because he has no reasons for what he does. There is no goal except the scratching of the itch that drives him. He is not a revolutionary but a nihilist who has no hesitation in destroying all institutions of language, and with those the civilisation they enact. “My whole body is a numb tongue,” says Quentin, Oates’s psychopath. His every utterance is a destructive distortion of language.

These are the thoughts that dominate my life as I anticipate the state visit of the psychopath, Donald Trump, to this green and pleasant land. Oates, it seems to me, knew the man without having met him - a creature of the slime who is something less than a human being.
Profile Image for Tim.
476 reviews615 followers
September 3, 2021
If you're looking for a book about Romero style living dead, look elsewhere. Nor is this a book about a certain Cranberries song that just mentioning will be stuck in your heeeeeeeeaaad… in your heeeeeeeeaaad…

No, this is a book about Jeffrey Dahmer, but not the real Jeffrey Dahmer. This fictionalized version of him named Quentin… I'm sorry Q___ P___ no, sorry back to Quentin. I apologize, the author makes the strange choice to have him use only his initials for a bit (in particular when our first person narrator refers to himself in the third person), but then has everyone just call him Quentin. It's one of many small annoying touches that adds to the greater whole of awfulness that is this book.

Yes, let's get this out of the way, this is easily my least favorite book of the year. Hell it probably makes my least favorite novels of all time list. I kept reading it after a while out of morbid curiosity (and because it was short with large print). "Will it get better?" I asked. After all, I usually only hear positive things about the author. Surely she's got a trick up her sleeve and… nope it's over.

I appreciate it usually when authors want to get a bit experimental. It should be encouraged. So I hate to be "that guy" but I guess I just have to this time. If your experiment is to write in purposely atrocious writing, perhaps it is best not to try it. This is how the book is written:

& I decided to write this REVIEW because I LIKE it when I read books & REVIEWS are pretty much what I do & it seemed like a GOOD idea & I reviewed & T___ R___ REVIEWED & then someone commented & I said & they said & I said & they said & I LIKED that they said THAT.

Yes, long run on sentences, frequent use of "&," sections that are just "I said & then he said & I said" without the dialogue and words capitalized with the intention of showing our narrator's thought process, but frequently seemed to just be randomly selected words because why the hell not? Add in a couple of references to the character being aroused (frequently… very, very frequently) and that's the book in a nutshell.

Yeah, he kills a person or two and tries to create a zombie (in this case that means lobotomized sex slave for those of you wondering about the title) but really, it's just one poorly written run on sentence after another. Yes, I know Oates writes better than this. Yes, I know it was an experiment. Frankly it was a failed one. 1/5 stars and recommended to no one.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,194 reviews9,471 followers
May 27, 2013
This fairly wretched novel is JCO shooting dead boys in a barrel. I dunno, it seems like taking the easy option to me - you takes your Jeffrey Dahmer (you remember him, he was a lonely boy who wanted a gay sex pet to do his every bidding, and he read a book on brain surgery and he thought that if you drilled the right hole in a man's head it would stop him from realising you were a dangerous psycho and leaving, so he practised on a few guys who unfortunately like died which was not Jeffrey's intention, but he was practising, you can't get these things right first time - okay, okay, I know this hobby of Jeffrey's is probably politically incorrect but he was a boy with problems) - anyway, Joyce takes Jeffrey and renames him Quentin, rearranges a few details, adds plenty of stuff which wouldn't have got into the papers (Quentin does his DIY drilling, Quentin mucks about with his deceased boyfriends, Quentin gets in a towering rage with them because they die too quick and don't co-operate at all, yes, a bit sick, true, but only .5 on the American Psycho scale) and then writes the whole thing like it's Quentin's semiliterate journal full of VERY ANGRY CAPITALS and zany punctuation and endearing little hand drawings (how to drill your zombie correctly). Now then, I've read "What I Lived For" and I know Joyce Carol Oates can write like a living goddess so that means she can churn out this Zombie kind of stuff before she's finished her morning muesli. I think someone must have drilled a hole in Joyce's head.

Profile Image for Robin.
484 reviews2,620 followers
July 31, 2017
A ruthless, blindingly-ugly, revealing character study of a sexual psychopath.

Joyce Carol Oates, I now officially forgive you for the tedium of We Were the Mulvaneys. This book was all that Mulvaneys was NOT - brilliantly written, brave, and (maybe most importantly) brief.

It became clear to me after reading this book that Quentin P is based at least loosely on real life serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, which is interesting from a historical perspective. But I enjoyed reading this being clueless about that background.

I was immediately pulled into this story because the voice of Quentin, the main character / freak-of-nature is so strong and believable. We are privy to his journal in which capital letters abound as well as ampersands (no "and" can be found anywhere in these 181 pages). He also includes creepy drawings of eyes, ice picks, even a do-it-yourself-lobotomy-diagram. He describes his depraved desires to turn a human being into his own personal ZOMBIE, who would passively and mindlessly do his bidding, in a shocking, twisted narrative. Oates goes where few people would. She spares no one, some parts almost too sick for even me to read. There is no safe place to rest in this novella, no respite, no mercy. No mercy, perhaps, until you close the book, and find that you are secure in your own killer-free existence, with comfortable things like morals and conscience floating around nearby.

But therein lays the brilliance. She captures the character's mind with razor sharp accuracy, brings you there for just as long as you can stand, then sets you free.
21 reviews3 followers
May 15, 2009
Damn, Joyce, I didn't know you rolled like that.
Profile Image for Mark  Porton.
385 reviews324 followers
January 2, 2022
I am not quite sure what I have just read. To be sure, I was totally rivetted. I thought about this book all the time, I couldn’t wait to get back to it, I wanted to tell everyone about it. I even left it in a not-so-obvious, obvious position on a table in my office, desperately hoping someone would stop by and notice the book on the table – the exchange would go something like this:

“Oh, Zombie what’s that all about Mark?”

“Well, I’m glad you asked *insert name* - but GOSH, I didn’t mean to leave it lying around. How long do you have to spare? One, two, three hours - all day?”

Then I could bang on incessantly about the story – uninterrupted, of course.

Alas, this never happened and probably that’s a good thing. The subject matter in this book is not appropriate to discuss in detail in any workplace with or without a Code of Conduct, in many ways I felt it was inappropriate to read, and worse still, to be enjoyed. Yes, I almost felt guilty enjoying this. But enjoy it I did!

Yes, enjoyment is the right word – so is shocked, disturbed, rattled, and revolted.

This is a nasty story about a revolting character called Quentin. A serial killer. The magnificent Joyce Carol Oates takes us into the mind of this twisted young bloke. How often does one get a chance to vicariously experience the life and thoughts of a psychopath? The first-person view of Quentin, of course, makes the whole thing more personal, more vivid, visceral. There’s no need to provide quotes, or even describe what Quentin gets up to. But if you are in two minds about picking this one up, have a think about it, and then pick it anyway – I’d love to read the thoughts of my GR mates.

JCO is prolific and her wide-ranging repertoire is almost too diverse to believe. This story is certainly one of her more extreme efforts (I assume). I will always remember this one, I will even re-read it, as I have my own carbon-based copy placidly sitting in my bookcase, looking as peaceful, inert and inoffensive as all of my other books. Oh my.


Thanks for the recommendation Robin :)
Profile Image for LA Cantrell.
424 reviews544 followers
August 4, 2017
Short, dark, and very scary - like a tipsy 2am Uber ride home that instead drags you into macabre neighborhoods and makes you question exactly what your ultimate payment will be (and maybe whether somebody slipped a touch of rohypnol in your margarita). Things are OFF. Way OFF.

So. You up for being freaked out and mesmerized for 200 pages?? Do yourself a favor and do NOT read the publisher's blurb or other reviews.

I walked into this book entirely blind and assumed because of the title that I'd see dead people a la World War Z. The only reason I read it was that a trusted GR friend wanted to do a buddy read. I really don't like dystopian books or vampires or zombies, but doing one of those type books by this author? OMG. There is no way I'd do that voluntarily. Robin - it was only our friendship that made me agree.

Boy, was I wrong! I am a total idiot (which you possibly already knew). The only title I was able to associate with Joyce Carol Oates was 'We Were the Mulvaneys,' a book I've never read but somehow pre-judged as a warm, family relationship fest that was far too milk-n-honey for me to take interest. I had no CLUE she was a HORROR writer and also was nominated for a Pulitzer.

Better than that, there is not a single walking dead person in the entire book. No dystopian plague or exorcists in sight. The book puts you in the shoes of a reprehensible character, and because some of the events in his life seem like they were inspired by true events. the reader gawks on - wondering how much of this story line might be real. Because, friends, it is VERY realistic!

October and Halloween are coming up, and while this is a short book, it is so disturbingly creepy that 200 pages is plenty. No rohypnol will allow me to forget ZOMBIE. Excellent and on my Favorites shelf.


"Joyce Carol Oates is not only one of the most acclaimed authors of our time—her more-than-forty novels, novellas, plays, short stories, poetry, and nonfiction works have earned her a National Book Award, two O. Henry Awards, the National Humanities Medal, and a Pulitzer Prize nomination—but she’s also an acclaimed horror and suspense author who is a multiple winner of the Bram Stoker Award, a recipient of the World Fantasy Award, and the first female author to receive the Horror Writers Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Her genre works include the novel Zombie (1995), the short story collections The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares (2011) and Black Dahlia & White Rose (2012), and, under the pseudonym Rosamond Smith, Starr Bright Will Be With You Soon (1999). She also edited American Gothic Tales (1996) and Tales of H. P. Lovecraft (2007). This year she retires from Princeton University, where she’s been teaching since 1978.
- Lisa Morton, 2014 Interview
Profile Image for Glenn Sumi.
404 reviews1,533 followers
February 27, 2022
Ever wonder what goes through the mind of a sexual psychopath like Jeffrey Dahmer?

Well, Joyce Carol Oates’s Zombie will show you – in a grisly, uncompromising and at times revolting fashion.

The book’s protagonist is a 31-year-old Dahmer-like character named Quentin P, who lives in the Midwest and is currently on probation for a sex crime he committed earlier, and, in between visits to his probation officer, psychiatrist and therapy group manages to find more victims and do terrible, terrible things to them.

He comes from a nice, seemingly normal family, but he’s learned how to convince everyone he’s doing fine, attending community college and working as a caretaker at a building his grandmother owns.

Between his banal daily activities, he recounts his killings in an almost offhand fashion, illustrating his stories with drawings. He’s savvy enough to know that if he chooses his victims among hitchhikers or men of colour, there won’t be a lot of people looking for them if they go missing – a horrific thought. But then he becomes obsessed with an attractive, upper-middle-class white kid, and the final third of the book consists of Quentin stalking him and figuring out a way to capture him to make him his personal zombie.

Oh yeah, the title. It’s gross. Quentin wants to use an icepick to basically give his victims lobotomies so he can keep them alive as his sexual slaves.

I told you this was disturbing.

This is the third Oates novel I’ve read, and I’ve got to admit she doesn’t hold back. She understands Quentin’s dissociative identity, all his ticks, urges, rationalizations, setbacks and victories. She doesn’t condone who or what he is, but she doesn’t pass judgement, either. She provides enough clues to his history and behaviour to let us understand him in a way that he doesn’t himself.

In fact, as Quentin plans his big capture, Oates actually generates sympathy for him. You’re almost rooting for him to succeed.

Which is some kind of sick literary miracle.
Profile Image for Jim Elkins.
334 reviews346 followers
November 10, 2019
How to Avoid Being Bourgeois

This is not terrifying or "monstrous," and it is not a shocking revelation. It does not take us "into the mind of a serial killer." It is not "harrowing," and it's not "disturbing."

It is a strained and earnest attempt to imagine the kind of life that would decisively overturn bourgeois values. But it doesn't do that, because the imagining of the Other is already part of middle-class American life. Even the most surprising lines pale as soon as they're read, because it becomes clear they're imagined by a novelist, working in an upper-middle class suburb, with the help of years of research into serial killers.

If Oates really wants to write outside of modern middle class America, she should write like Roussel or Bernhard. Those are two different examples, but they share two crucial traits that show how awkward and artificial "Zombie" is: first, they're decisively outside bourgeois values (their characters are the real psychotics, the ones who really don't care about the social fabric); and second, they don't have to work so hard, with every line and image, trying to break out of normalcy. They are already irreparably abnormal.

It's not that easy to write outside middle-class values. I wrote essentially the same review about Osamu Dazai's "No Longer Human." From this point of view gestures of anarchy and pessimism (in popular culture: Chuck Palahniuk, Christpher Nolan, and more recently Todd Phillips) are tropes of the destruction of self imagined within first-world middle class culture. A single line of Roussel is stranger than anything in Oates.
Profile Image for María.
193 reviews79 followers
September 9, 2020
Esta es otra novela más de "viaje a la mente de un psicópata asesino".
Es entretenida y se lee muy rápido, pero tengo que reconocer que he leído otras novelas que también tratan esta temática y que me han gustado mucho más (como por ejemplo: la magnífica American Psycho o El asesino dentro de mí, por citar alguna).
Profile Image for Coos Burton.
767 reviews1,300 followers
December 24, 2022

Me pareció bastante regular. Si no fuera por el tema de los detalles totalmente crudos y la buena redacción de Joyce, capaz no lo terminaba. No es que el libro sea malo, el tema es que mi experiencia con el mismo fue más bien meh.
Profile Image for Repellent Boy.
488 reviews508 followers
October 26, 2021
Quentin P. está en libertad condicional a causa de una agresión racial, pero lo que se esconde detrás de este hombre, en apariencia tierno y ojito derecho de su atenta abuela, va mucho más allá. Quetin es un depravado sexual, un asesino en serie que se excita violando y asesinado a hombres. Por si fuera poco, Quentin P, tiene un sueño, quiere convertir a una de sus víctimas en un zombi sin voluntad propia, que lo obedezca en todo. Como una especie de Dr. Frankenstein, pero incluso más perverso.

No os voy a engañar, es una de las historias más desagradables que he leído nunca. Terrorífico sería decir poco. Y no solo por el hecho de que constantemente aparezcan escenas violentas y crueles que te revuelven el estómago, que también, sino que el hecho de meterse en la piel de un psicópata a estos niveles, que narra su historia en primera persona, resulta una experiencia totalmente incómoda y angustiante. Y eso, pese a todo lo mal que me lo ha hecho pasar, es un mérito.

La atmósfera tensa durante toda la novela, y es curiosa la sensación de detestar al protagonista narrador, mientras deseas salvar a sus víctimas. Sufres porque sabes lo que se viene, y no quieres. Creo que hay un trabajo importante detrás a la hora de plasmar la mente de un asesino de tal calibre y que resulte creíble y realista, pese a sus perversos actos. Esa diferencia entre lo que decía y lo que pensaba, ese punto de manipulación, está muy bien conseguido.

La única cosa que me ha fallado es que, dentro de la historia cruel que cuenta, es algo monótona en cuanto a trama, y no hay grandes giros o situaciones que den para mucho cambio y esto, sumado a lo desagradable de la historia, puede conseguir que se te haga algo cansina. ¿Lo recomiendo? Solo si disfrutas de las historias sórdidas como lo hago yo, porque en ese caso te va a compensar el mal trago. No será lo último que lea de Joyce Carol Oates, aunque espero que el próximo sea algo más digerible. Se aceptan recomendaciones de por donde seguir.
Profile Image for Heidi Ward.
349 reviews76 followers
July 27, 2015
I generally like Oates's dark fiction (her short stories are particularly good), but I chose not to finish this one. I'd meant to read Zombie for a long time, and was disappointed to find it utterly repulsive when I finally got around to it . . . but not in the way you might imagine.

I thought I knew what I was getting into when I picked up a book told from the POV of a sexually depraved serial killer dabbling in icepick lobotomies. (Browse my library and you'll see it takes a lot more than that to put me off my feed.) I guess I imagined that Oates of all people would be able to tap that "nothing human is alien" vein, and give the reader some interesting insights into her narrator's disturbing psychology.

Unfortunately, what the reader gets instead is the raving-yet-vacuous diary of an emotionally stunted, sexually-obsessed sociopath who frequently WRITES IN ALL CAPS to add emphasis. He also draws cute pictures of his potential victims to accompany his "romantic" fantasies. (Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised to find he carries his tools in a Hello Kitty backpack.) What's really repulsive is that "Q_P_" (as he self-identifies) may just be the most vapid serial killer of all time. Maybe the novel ends with a stunning flourish, but here's one reader who simply got tired of spending any more time in such unscintillating company.

To sum up, my disappointment with Zombie has nothing to do with its graphic nature, and everything to do with the fact that its protagonist is not only unlikeable but as banal as an adolescent girl with a crush. I know Oates can write beautifully, so what's the point of writing badly in this case? If you really want to get inside a serial killer's head, might I suggest spending the time with Patrick Bateman in Brett Easton Elllis's far superior and pitch-black funny American Psycho instead?

Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,086 reviews2,947 followers
April 17, 2022
2.5 Stars
This book is often cited as one of the most disturbing books people have ever read. Needless to say, I've been dying to read the one for myself. I can understand how the fragmented prose might create a creepy experience for some readers, but the narrative style just did not work for me. I'm very disappointed. 
Profile Image for Clint Hall.
162 reviews4 followers
November 5, 2022
There is a timelessness to psychopaths, isn't there?

With headlines being made by the new Dahmer show & Joyce Carol Oates's Blonde movie on Netflix, plus the whole Halloween time of year, I thought this was an appropriate opportunity to give this story a read. & what an appropriately disturbing story this was.

Zombie is a notebook style/stream of consciousness story following the exploits of a disturbed character based loosely on Jeffrey Dahmer. Believe it or not, the title is quite apt for a story that doesn't deal with any of the familiar tropes of the brain-eating variety. The ideas of the central character are scary, but seem like they've been plucked from the headlines of some other serial killer story--disturbingly believable. In fact, ten years from now I wouldn't be surprised if some nut-job performs similar killings & it will make me think to myself: 'Where have I heard this before?'

The way the story ends is abrupt, to say the least. Oates throws down a few ideas near the end that made me wonder if she was trying to pull together a moral of the story, but it felt real flimsy. There was one thing, however, that occurred to me after I had put it down & if you have read 'Zombie', you will think me a madman in my own right. Unless I'm not.

Are you ready? Here it is: I think she wrote an allegory about the subjugation of women.

Boom. Your mind should be blown. Read it & let me know.

Real absorbing read, but not for the faint of heart.

(Those ampersands are distracting, aren't they?)
Profile Image for Cody | CodysBookshelf.
724 reviews210 followers
February 22, 2019
”& ONE TWO THREE hard jolts into the boy’s scrotum & moaning & his own eyes lurching in his head he came, & came, & came. & there was a blackout of how many seconds, or minutes, he did not know. & laying upon the boy shuddering & trying to calm his heart. I love you, don’t make me hurt you. Love love love you!”

Though a dark streak runs through all of Joyce Carol Oates’s work, in Zombie that streak is not a streak at all, but a deep bleeding gash. Oates, with hesitation or remorse, drowns the reader in the thoughts and feelings of a serial killer a’la Jeffrey Dahmer, via first-person narration. The result is an unflinching, uncomfortable slicing of the jugular vein.

This book is not “enjoyable.” It is not light reading; it is unfit for the airplane or park. It is a highly unsettling plunge into hell itself, and the rationale of the killer’s mind. Thankfully it is no longer than it is — I am not sure I could have handled more. JCO knows just what to give her readers; she knows when enough is enough.

And so, though I was put off by it, and though I was repulsed by it, I must give Zombie five stars. This author is a master of her craft . . . . as if we did not know that.
Profile Image for Rachel.
365 reviews163 followers
March 13, 2022
I’m not going to list all the trigger warnings, but there are a lot.
If you can’t stomach reading about Jeffrey Dahmer, this book is definitely not for you. It is explicit/detailed, and the first person POV of Quentin P is horrifying and unhinged.

JCO is an amazing writer, but this is some next level dark content. I kind of wish I didn’t read this, it was so disturbing 😣
Profile Image for DeAnna Knippling.
Author 162 books259 followers
December 23, 2015
An unpleasant book, taking you, with absolute lack of Hanniballian romance, into the petty, insignificant mind of a serial killer. The main character only wants to dominate pretty men; he's as cheap and tiresome and disorganized and lame as a middle-aged guy leering at you in a Denny's. To destroy the romance of serial killing: it's like that scene in Sandman where Morpheus takes away the illusions at the "Cereal Convention," only the illusion is actually taken away, not handwaved as one of Morpheus's gestures. A man with a dead-end job, greasy stolen glasses, and a beige van with a flag decal in the back window. Serial killing in its beige, potbellied, ALL CAPS & badly punctuated glory.
Profile Image for nastya ♡.
510 reviews43 followers
May 16, 2023
poorly written, poorly executed, and not in the least bit frightening or shocking.
Profile Image for Jonathan Janz.
Author 45 books1,704 followers
January 27, 2014
It would be wrong to say I enjoyed this one--I didn't. But then again, I wasn't supposed to.

Joyce Carol Oates has created a novel so eerie and unnerving that the words "enjoyment," "escapism," and "entertaining" are totally inapplicable.

But it is a masterfully written tale with the kind of skillfulness you'd expect from Oates, who is a phenomenal writer. I'm not going to write much more about this because I've got other books waiting for me tonight, but what I will say is that you should only read ZOMBIE if you have a strong stomach. If you do, though, you're in for an exceedingly skin-crawling narrative. And a main character so squeamishly convincing that he'll make you eyeball strangers with just a little bit more suspicion.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to crawl into a corner and shiver for several minutes.

Profile Image for Uroš Đurković.
588 reviews134 followers
June 12, 2021
Ovo je, prema istinitoj priči pisan, autonarativ masovnog ubice: homoseksualnog nekrofila-kanibala čiji je fetiš da ubijeni bude njegova zombi lutkica. Dok odvratnost kulminira, ne mogu a da ne zapazim da bi, u najboljem čitanju, ovo Sioranu bio ljubić.

Žali bože utrošenog vremena na koje me uporno navlači moja neutaživa znatiželja.

Kukavna ti majka, Outs.
Profile Image for WJEP.
241 reviews14 followers
February 7, 2023
I'm ashamed how much I liked this sicko book. The reader gets to ride along with Quentin in his nondescript 87 Ford van hunting for specimens (as he calls his victims). His schemes are crackpot but daring.
"Purchased my first ice pick, March 1988."
All the while he must conceal his "proclivities" from his parents, probation officer, and psychiatrist.
Profile Image for Amalia (◍•ᴗ•◍)❤.
291 reviews63 followers
February 26, 2022
Una novela que se lee rapidísimo y que no es apta para todos los públicos.
Hay escenas se*uales y de asesinatos muy brutales y macabras.
Cabe resaltar que había ciertos párrafos que eran muy largos y en el que no había signos de puntuación, con lo cual perdí el hilo unas cuantas veces.
En fin, una historia para aquellos/as que adoren el gore.
A novel that is read very quickly and is not suitable for all audiences.
There are very brutal and macabre sexual and murder scenes.
It should be noted that there were certain paragraphs that were very long and in which there were no punctuation marks, with which I lost the thread a few times.
In short, a story for those who love gore.
Profile Image for Francesca   kikkatnt.
260 reviews5 followers
February 19, 2022
Da brava lettrice che NON legge le sinossi, mi aspettavo che questo libro parlasse di Zombie alla "vecchia maniera", ossia: non morti che spuntano da sotto terra e che vanno in giro a mangiare i vivi.. Beh non vi dico la meraviglia mentre lo leggevo.
Non c'è nulla di tutto ciò..
Il titolo è stato fuorviante, ma non del tutto errato.
La storia viene narrata dal punto di vista del protagonista, un vero e proprio genio del male. Una persona all'apparenza normale, con una famiglia normale e un lavoro normale.
Ma noi siamo nella sua testa e sappiamo che non è così. Attraverso i suoi pensieri veniamo a conoscenza delle sue perversioni, delle sue manie, ma soprattutto veniamo a conoscenza del suo grande sogno: creare uno zombie-bambolotto gonfiabile su cui sfogare le sue pulsioni sessuali.
Guardando solamente il suo punto di vista sembra che la cosa sia così innocente, così Normale, tanto da chiedersi, ad esempio, come mai possa essere in libertà vigilata per aver molestato un minore.
Un libro abbastanza frustrante perché, davanti a tanta violenza, non possiamo far altro che assistere impotenti a quello che succede

Quentin P. è realmente esistito. L’autrice si riferisce a Jaeffrey Lionel Dahmer, serial killer che negli anni '80 uccideva le proprie vittime, smembrava i cadaveri e ne conservava i pezzi. [dal web]
Profile Image for Malice.
262 reviews31 followers
November 18, 2022
Es una novela corta, pero muy intensa. Está contada desde el punto de vista de Quentin, el protagonista, que es un asesino en serie. Todo es bastante repulsivo y muy desagradable, así que supongo que logra su cometido.
Profile Image for Nad Gandia.
167 reviews36 followers
June 16, 2021
Otra novela ganadora de un premio Stoker. Como comenté, estoy leyendo las novelas que se han ido publicando a raíz de este premio.
La curiosidad me ha llevado a esta novela, que te mete directamente en una mente lo suficientemente enferma como para que de mucha repulsión. Al principio, el estilo puede parecer confuso, al menos para mí. ya que no tenía contexto, y sabiendo lo que ocurre lo agradezco. Ha hecho que me adentre en la historia desde 0.bueno, en la mente de un personaje profundamente enfermo.
Por otro lado; ir descubriendo poco a poco toda la ambientación me ha parecido una gozada, en algunos puntos el ritmo se puede ver entorpecido. La novela si merece una oportunidad.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Amani Abusoboh.
389 reviews188 followers
November 16, 2020
كتاب، لكاتبته مخيلة مرعبة ومختلّة لكنها تقدم عملاً متفردًا، يبعث على الدهشة، ومرات كثيرة على التقيؤ. عمل مجنون لكنه مبدع!
Profile Image for Carly.
75 reviews27 followers
April 5, 2022
“A true zombie would be mine forever. He would obey every command and whim. Saying yes master and no master. He would kneel before me lifting his eyes to me saying I love you master. His eyes would be open and clear but nothing but there will be nothing inside them seeing. Zombie would pass no judgment. Zombie would say you are good master. Fuck me in the ass master until I bleed blue guts. He would beg for his food and he would beg for oxygen to breathe.“

So you may think this is a diary of a madman, and it is. But it is so much more and revealed in a subtle way.

The antihero, for lack of a better word, is a disturbed young man that dreams of having a slave, which he considers a person who unconditionally loves him. So he kidnaps young black men to experiment on them and make them his personal zombie slaves. It does not go well. He eventually falls in lust with a young white boy whom he considers the perfect specimen, and things go even worse real quick.

This book does not question “Why is he like this?” Oates is not interested in that. She crafts a creepy novel of how he is able to get away with his horrific crimes. At the end, it is casually mentioned that his father was good friends with a “nazi” doctor that performed horrific experiments and won a Nobel Laureate. They mourn the loss of a “good man” who contributed so much to society.

The implication being that our antihero is not really just a disturbed man. He is not a stand-alone individual commiting atrocities, and his crimes are not isolated incidents, but are indicative of a foundation of cruelty built on classism and systemic racism. And that is what is truly terrifying.
Profile Image for Ana M. Román.
645 reviews81 followers
December 12, 2017
Ha sido una lectura difícil. Era como estar en un rincón de la habitación viendo como sucedía todo. Se me contraía todo el cuerpo en las escenas desagradables, lo que es prácticamente todo el tiempo, y a veces me daban ganas de cerrar los ojos como si en lugar de leyendo estuviera viendo una película.

Siempre me han intrigado las lecturas narradas desde el punto de vista de una persona con alguna enfermedad mental. Adentrarme en la cabeza y descubrir la forma de pensar de una persona así, ya sea brevemente y de forma imaginaria, me llama la atención.
En este libro hay mucho de eso, es decir, a pesar de todas las atrocidades y su más que evidente locura puedes entender su “razonamiento”. Teniendo en cuenta que carece de lógica ninguna.

También hay algo de crítica social. De la decadencia de la sociedad americana, de su sistema de justicia especialmente.

Aún así, no puedo decir que me haya gustado. Ha sido tan desagradable que no he disfrutado y la verdad es que he dado las gracias de que sea una lectura corta. Mi estómago no habría dado para algo más largo.
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