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3.32  ·  Rating Details ·  6,236 Ratings  ·  901 Reviews
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.
Published (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

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Jul 29, 2008 Iyanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I HATED this book! It was excellently written and it did what it was supposed to 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 ...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 28, 2007 Paul Bryant rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jeffrey Dahmer fans
Shelves: verysleazyfun, novels
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 int ...more
Damn, Joyce, I didn't know you rolled like that.
Heidi Ward
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
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 Jim Elkins rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
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 i
DeAnna Knippling
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 Morp ...more
Jonathan Janz
Jan 19, 2014 Jonathan Janz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 11, 2010 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Joyce Carol Oates snared my attention in her old short story, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? In her novel, Zombie, (1995), she writes in a first person narrative of a psychopath who has a crush on various youthful men, and uses devilish means to capture them and use them as sex slaves. In turns, quizzically funny and nasty, the writings are merely scribbles and with various doodles in the borders that take on sinister meanings as you read the story. As a reader I am a little put off
C.J. Sarcasm & Lemons
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Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a bit of an obsession with serial killers. So after a conversation about Jeffrey Dahmer the other day (yes, the glamorous life of a psych grad student), I recalled a former lit professor having mentioned this evilly wonderful novel by Joyce Carol Oates, one of the underappreciated literary greats. The novel’s protagonist happens to be based heavily on Dahmer, who had similar zombie-making inclinations
Mairéad (is roaming the Undying Lands)
{March 8th, 2015} IM DONE FINALLYYYYY

1.5 stars.

I just can't with this book. It just left me rubbing my eyes wanting to get rid of all the disturbing imagery. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into but not really. Besides the way it was written annoyed me ("and" becoming "&"), the subject matter itself is so surreal. Like you seriously grabbed a serial pedo killer and reached into his/her brain. I don't think I'll ever look at a killer the same way ever again...especially thanks to Q
Mar 30, 2009 Brenna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Going beyond the psyche of "the monster," Joyce Carol Oates invites herself into the mind of a murderer, thus making him downright human again. A wholly disturbed and unpleasant human, but unmistakably vulnerably sentient nonetheless.

Quentin P. is like any one of us in that sense, at least.

Zombie is a diary of sorts. The owner/writer of this diary is Quentin P. (who frequently refers to himself by initials alone, and to others solely by initials or - in special cases - cutesy nicknames). Those n
Jun 18, 2014 Petergiaquinta rated it it was ok
This book came to mind today as I was browsing a discussion thread titled, "Do you have to like the narrator to enjoy the book?" Quentin, the decidedly unlikeable narrator of Oates' 1995 novel Zombie, kidnaps young men, holds them captive in his house, and then applies an icepick to their brains in his quest to create the perfect zombie love slave. He isn't particularly adept with the pick. Young men die horribly, and there is a great deal of ugly, violent rape and worse. Quentin also seems to l ...more
Mar 18, 2014 Pete rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, usa
It made me more uncomfortable than anything I've read recently. The first person narration is unnervingly believable; it was not what I might have imagined a serial killer's voice to be, but it is now. A lot of Goodreads reviewers seem to think that great books cannot be this upsetting. While I disagree with that premise and do consider this a very good piece of writing, I can't give it stars. It just isn't shiny.*

*I have since given it stars. Distance helped me heal.
Sue Dix
Apr 20, 2017 Sue Dix rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am afraid of Joyce Carol Oates. How did she ever think to write such a disturbing story? It's as if we were watching the most frightening Criminal Minds episode exclusively from the point of view of the obviously deranged stalker/serial killer/rapist and could not turn off the television. I am still shivering. And yet, I really liked this book.
Patrick Kelly
Feb 25, 2014 Patrick Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dark-and-twisted
Not the JCO I remember.
Meet Quentin: a violent serial-rapist/killer and pedophile. Oates places the reader inside the mind of a social deviant, but succeeds only insofar as she shocks. These moments are daring enough to outweigh sudden, dramatic shifts in tone and style, which the narrative occasionally suffers from—switching from pedantic, broken English to deep, allegorical, highly poetic aphorism. The latter would feel more compelling (and authentic) if it didn't arrive at such odds with the
Feb 17, 2009 Delilah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was a real page-turner for me, a single afternoon read. It's written in a diary style from the point of view of a very believable childlike predator. I read a lot of true-crime and consider myself well-versed in criminal psychology, and I thought that the restraint practiced by the author in terms of only recording things from the sophomoric emotional state of a stunted and sad murderer was remarkable. Well-executed work that I will enjoy using as a basis for the author's other creations.

Jun 10, 2016 Rebecka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read_in_english
This is perhaps as disturbing as it gets, while still actually being published by a publisher. Zombie is somewhat reminiscent of The Collector both in regards to the high quality quirky writing and the theme, but without the pretense of civilization and decency. The psycho point of view is just so... Perfect! And having just read one other Oates book before I really had no idea she was an author capable of writing something like this.

Leo Robertson
Lol the title cleverly references how the author wrote this on autopilot.
Nov 10, 2014 Hudson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Eh. Decent read told from the perspective of a serial killer. Author uses caps a lot to underscore certain points or words, gets annoying after awhile.
Jul 10, 2017 Παύλος rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, sick
Μου το είχε προτείνει ο φίλος Γιώργος και με το που ξαναβγήκε στην κυκλοφορία, το πήρα.

Ανάμεικτες εντυπώσεις. Ενώ ξεκινά καλά και περιμένεις να μπει δυνατά η σπλατερια και η σφαγή, διαπιστώνεις ότι στο πάει γύρω γύρω. Παρόλα αυτά, έχει ωραίο κλίμα και μοιάζει σαν ένας σύγχρονος Φρανκενστάιν. Αναμφίβολα η συγγραφέας ξέρει να γράφει.

3 αστέρια γιατι περίμενα κάτι πιο σκληρό (κακή επιρροή ο Aldapuerta) και δε μου βγήκε...
Jan 08, 2009 Jacobi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read
This book made me angry. I understand that Joyce Carol Oates writes books that make you feel like you need a shower, and I was cool with that. I expected it even. What I didn't expect was for this to be written like drivel.

An excerpt.

"Twelve years old & in seventh grade & now I was wearing glasses & long-armed & skinny & hair sprouting under my arms & at my groin & their eyes sliding onto me & even the teachers & in gym class I refused to go through the showe
Oct 19, 2011 Leah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 3.5 of 5

Sad, disgusting, horrific: exactly what one would imagine the mind of a serial killer to be. I didn't realize beforehand that Zombie was inspired by Jeffrey Dahmer, but I figured it out after Quentin P. shared his fantasy about the creation of a living zombie. The narrative was entirely stream of consciousness from Quentin's perspective, which was super creepy, and it definitely felt like I was reading a real journal. Oates fully immersed herself in the mindset of a killer, so mu
Apr 15, 2012 Dean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tough read.
For such a short book this took a bit to read as I could only read it in parcels.
It is not because it is not a "good" book, it is. The book is simply a rough ride.
Stark, bleak, devoid of life.
You will feel empty after reading empty as Q_P.
Herein lies the genius of the novel.
Quentin (Q_P) is a serial killer. I am not giving anything away by telling you this. It is presented from the start.
You are invited into the mind of this monster. What you will find there is...much of n
Carac Allison
Jun 10, 2014 Carac Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 28, 2015 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
I read this quite a few years ago but came across a copy recently and decided to read it again.

This is a novel that is blunt and brave. I admire Joyce Carol Oates for writing it. It is a fictional account of a pedophile and serial murderer. His motive was inspired by the motive of Jeffrey Dahmer. That and the sexual orientation of the character in this book is about all that is taken from Dahmer. Their method of creating what they wanted also differed.

One thing that I really loved about this b
Bert Zee
Apr 15, 2017 Bert Zee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s so bizarre to think this book – that is so graphic, extreme and disturbing – was written by an elderly white lady. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart or easily offended but if you can handle the content it’s a fantastic book from one of our greatest living authors. Joyce Carol Oates is such an interesting writer; the subjects of her books are always unexpected and shocking, this one being about Jeffrey Dahmer. Her writing is so sparse and beautiful here, it’s different to her usual ...more
Apr 27, 2007 Mahrya rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is an example of the Joyce Carol Oates I'm not too crazy about. Compared to Them or The Childwold, Zombie seems to lack a sense of time and place, and even character. You feel nothing for any of them, which Easton Ellis pulls off well, but not Oates. This book is loosely based on Jeffrey Dahmer's homemade zombie quest, and there's plenty of gruesomeness involving neighborhood boys, icepicks and duct tape. She gets well inside the mind of a serial killer, but to sensational effect. I was mai ...more
May 15, 2007 Valerie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: notworthit
What was the point of reading this book?! Not being faint hearted I did keep reading to find out what would happen next. Sick, sad and disapointing. I find that most books by Joyce Carol Oates just leave me feeling like I want to wash my hands but this one made me want to scrub my eyes too.
Paul Gleason
Oates, who's one of the best novelists of her generation, occasionally attempts to write genre fiction. I read Zombie as both a "horror" story and as an attempt to - and a rather cynical one at that, coming from such an esteemed writer - capitalize on the, at the times (the book was published in 1995), current interest in serial killers.

Indeed, if you choose to pick up Oates's text, you'll be reminded of American Psycho and A Silence of the Lambs.

You'll also remember the Jeffrey Dahmer murders.

Nov 07, 2011 Brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
* On the cover of my trade paperback, Booklist calls this a "horrifying, revelatory work." Perhaps the explanation for this remark can be found in what Library Journal has to say about it, that "what gives this novel its awesome power is Oates's ability to convince us that Quentin might be anyone." Only problem is, this is a "revelation" only to those who know nothing about serial killers, who, after all, aren't able to ply their twisted craft by running around looking like psychotic monsters.

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2015 Reading Chal...: Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates 1 9 May 27, 2015 10:59AM  
Zombie Audiobooks 1 3 Apr 23, 2014 07:04PM  
Anyone else find this book very disturbing? 5 31 Sep 19, 2013 06:18PM  
This edition is 181 pages, dear. Not 192. 1 25 Apr 05, 2012 04:32AM  
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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 Laure ...more
More about Joyce Carol Oates...

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“I could EAT YOUR HEART & asshole you'd never know it. ” 43 likes
“I am the presence standing here at this juncture of Time & Space- who else?” 13 likes
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