Lisa's Reviews > Brains: A Zombie Memoir

Brains by Robin Becker
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Aug 14, 2010

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Read in June, 2010

A friend of mine just reviewed "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." This summer I was curious about the zombie genre, and I happened to start with "Brains: A Zombie Memoir" by Robin Becker. Well, it's hard to say this fits neatly into the zombie genre-- it's the zombie apocalypse, and it's memoir, and it's an author's first novel, and a quest, and it's my favorite genre of all, fiction about college professors. (not that you'd know it's my favorite from the reviews I've posted here)

Superb concept: Jack Barnes, a college professor, is bitten and joins the undead during the zombie apocalypse. However zombified he is, his PhD and tendency to deconstruct pop culture seem to be embedded the rotting cells of his body. He's no ordinary zombie, he's sentient. Boy, can he deconstruct culture, especially when he's munching on it. There's some profound irony when college professor literally feasts on brains. He quickly discovers that there are other sentient zombies with whom he can communicate. This horde of sentient zombies sets off to Chicago find their maker, the scientist who unleashed the virus that turned them. Oh yeah, his name is Dr. Sein (a la Franken). The novel is loaded with cultural references, some of them quite hilarious. For example, they encounter a famous Chicago talk show host, turned zombie, who refuses to shuffle quietly into the good night. Too many other good zingers to mention here.

The idea is much better than the execution. It's a first novel, and as a rule first novels tend to be uneven-- this is no exception. Still it's worth it to see the world through a sentient zombie's eye, even if that eye is popped out of its socket and bangs against rotting flesh with each shuffling step. The zombie apocalypse has occurred, so nobody ought to expect perfection. It's just a snack, not a meal in a 5-star restaurant. Mmmm, braaaiinnns.
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