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Brains: A Zombie Memoir

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College-professor-cum-zombie Jack Barnes is a different breed of undeadhe can think. In fact, he can even write. And the story he has to tell is a truly disturbingyet strangely heartwarmingone. Convinced he'll bring about a peaceful coexistence between zombies and humans if he can demonstrate his unique condition to Howard Stein, the man responsible for the zombie virus, College-professor-cum-zombie Jack Barnes is a different breed of undead—he can think. In fact, he can even write. And the story he has to tell is a truly disturbing—yet strangely heartwarming—one. Convinced he'll bring about a peaceful coexistence between zombies and humans if he can demonstrate his unique condition to Howard Stein, the man responsible for the zombie virus, Barnes sets off on a grueling cross-country journey to meet his maker. Along the way he recruits a small army of "super" zombies that will stop at nothing to reach their goal. There's Guts, the dreadlocked boy who can run like the wind; Joan, the matronly nurse adept at reattaching decaying appendages; Annie, the young girl with a fierce quick-draw; and Ros, who can actually speak. United they embark on an epic quest to attain what all men, women—and, apparently, zombies—yearn for: equality. Brains is a blood-soaked, darkly humorous story that will have readers rooting for Barnes and his zombie posse to the very end.


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College-professor-cum-zombie Jack Barnes is a different breed of undeadhe can think. In fact, he can even write. And the story he has to tell is a truly disturbingyet strangely heartwarmingone. Convinced he'll bring about a peaceful coexistence between zombies and humans if he can demonstrate his unique condition to Howard Stein, the man responsible for the zombie virus, College-professor-cum-zombie Jack Barnes is a different breed of undead—he can think. In fact, he can even write. And the story he has to tell is a truly disturbing—yet strangely heartwarming—one. Convinced he'll bring about a peaceful coexistence between zombies and humans if he can demonstrate his unique condition to Howard Stein, the man responsible for the zombie virus, Barnes sets off on a grueling cross-country journey to meet his maker. Along the way he recruits a small army of "super" zombies that will stop at nothing to reach their goal. There's Guts, the dreadlocked boy who can run like the wind; Joan, the matronly nurse adept at reattaching decaying appendages; Annie, the young girl with a fierce quick-draw; and Ros, who can actually speak. United they embark on an epic quest to attain what all men, women—and, apparently, zombies—yearn for: equality. Brains is a blood-soaked, darkly humorous story that will have readers rooting for Barnes and his zombie posse to the very end.

30 review for Brains: A Zombie Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    Meh. I thought that this would be fun and somewhat funny, but really it was just a bunch of asshole shit done by an asshole with a god complex who thinks that because he's now undead, he's something even more special than he was when he was alive. I made a bunch of notes on my kindle as I read this, but as I skimmed the last quarter, now I'm just glad that it's over and I'm not going back in to look at my notes. I don't really care enough. The writing was OK, but it was choppy at times, and Meh. I thought that this would be fun and somewhat funny, but really it was just a bunch of asshole shit done by an asshole with a god complex who thinks that because he's now undead, he's something even more special than he was when he was alive. I made a bunch of notes on my kindle as I read this, but as I skimmed the last quarter, now I'm just glad that it's over and I'm not going back in to look at my notes. I don't really care enough. The writing was OK, but it was choppy at times, and overly descriptive, both in gore and in pseudo-intellectualism. And I love how this book is chock full of pop culture references, while at the same time scorning other writers who use pop culture references, and that which is popular in general. In the words of the main character,"popularity proved inferiority, not worth". The main character soon learns the error of his ways (aww, look, growth!) but not for long. He's an unrepentant asshole of a character, and I kept hoping he'd take a bullet to the face. Alas, as he's the narrator, that was not to be. (Spoiler alert.) There was some stuff that really didn't make sense to me, like claiming that his grandmother, who fled the Nazis in 1937, was the first to graduate from the University of Vienna. A simple google search tells me that the first woman graduated from there in 1897. If that's the timeline, it would make his grandmother, I dunno, around 60 at least when she got to the US, with kids in tow... Unless grandma waited SUPER late to start having kids, that means that the main character's parents were born in the 20s sometime, or earlier, and would, at the time of this book's writing and the events referenced in it, be 90+. I figure that maybe they were late having their own kids, and so the main character is probably between 45-50. He's a professor, and sounds most definitely to be in the mid-life crisis time of life, but honestly, the ages of the generations before him don't make sense to me. So, most likely, the author just thought it would sound really nifty to claim that distinction for the main character's grandma, and thought nothing else about it. But you know me, always the nitpicker. Another thing that didn't make sense to me was the whole Isaac thing. If a woman was pregnant when she was changed to a zombie, and zombies rot continually (as is depicted in this book) then there's no growth or development possible for the baby, regardless of whether it's being provided sustenance fitting for a new zombie fetus. It would just remain in its fetal state forever, not grow to "yearling" size and then practically claw its way out like it's mama's name was Rosemary. Illogical. Finally, I thought that I would like this book, because I like zombie books and thought it would be funny and whatnot... but about midway through, I realized that I hated this for the same reason that Cell disappointed me. I don't like intelligent zombies. They are boring. Give me mindless hunger machines any day. At least they are relentless and keep things interesting. Existential zombie whinefests aren't my thing. Lame.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mae Dunne

    I started out kind of liking this book and gradually began to realize I hated it, so much so that I actually gave up on it when I was more than half way through. I don't mind a bit of snark or arrogance, I'm a sucker for pop culture references, and I'm even an English Lit enthusiast. But each line was packed so tightly with little remarks and puns and the type of self-deprecating humor that seems to be preempting the joke rather than joining in on it that I just started to feel exhausted. This I started out kind of liking this book and gradually began to realize I hated it, so much so that I actually gave up on it when I was more than half way through. I don't mind a bit of snark or arrogance, I'm a sucker for pop culture references, and I'm even an English Lit enthusiast. But each line was packed so tightly with little remarks and puns and the type of self-deprecating humor that seems to be preempting the joke rather than joining in on it that I just started to feel exhausted. This book's not nearly as funny as it thinks it is. I thought maybe after the initial chapters, once the plot got going, the desperate irony and sarcasm would give way to a less hollow story line, but it just never did. It's a shame.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lewis Terry

    The book seems to be a method of the author massaging their own ego. Every page is crammed with references to other far greater literary works. In the space of the first few pages we are bombarded with references to Dante's Inferno, King Kong, Promethus, Romero's great works and a simile or metaphor after every verb. Quite frankly it makes the story's intentions unclear, whether it is going for Shaun of the Dead humour, an analysis of all things zombie or a hard hitting story, with a character The book seems to be a method of the author massaging their own ego. Every page is crammed with references to other far greater literary works. In the space of the first few pages we are bombarded with references to Dante's Inferno, King Kong, Promethus, Romero's great works and a simile or metaphor after every verb. Quite frankly it makes the story's intentions unclear, whether it is going for Shaun of the Dead humour, an analysis of all things zombie or a hard hitting story, with a character we are supposed to sympathise with, you just cannot tell. It is a huge boiling pit of all the author's ideas. A confused and self gratifying romp made purely with the wish that we will all be amazed at how intelligent, witty and deep the authors thought process is. The violence and conversation is just like that of a b-movie badly written and plain, which would be forgiveable if it was written purely to emulate the b-movie genre, but instead the author tries to also come across as a literary genius. As a narrative it fails, the characters are unlikeable and the protagonist is laughably poor in design. Over all if you like reading and read often avoid this book. Stick to the great modern zombie works, such as World War Z, D Day Armageddon or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. They all are authors who know their zombies and do not let their ego or lack of structure get in the way of good narrative and character development.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kara Babcock

    Sometimes having a good idea just isnt enough. This might hurt, but its the truth. For whatever reason, sometimes writers have amazing ideas that dont pan out. And when those ideas stall mid-story, they take the entire book down with them. In Brains: A Zombie Memoir, Jack Barnes is an English professor who gets bitten during the zombie apocalypse. After transforming, he discovers that he can still think and still feels like himselfaside from a craving for brains and human flesh. Also, he can Sometimes having a good idea just isn’t enough. This might hurt, but it’s the truth. For whatever reason, sometimes writers have amazing ideas that don’t pan out. And when those ideas stall mid-story, they take the entire book down with them. In Brains: A Zombie Memoir, Jack Barnes is an English professor who gets bitten during the zombie apocalypse. After transforming, he discovers that he can still think and still feels like himself—aside from a craving for brains and human flesh. Also, he can still write (not too shabby for a decaying corpse), though he can’t speak. So Jack travels across the United States, gradually finding other “smart zombies” like himself, looking for the scientist who unwittingly unleashed the zombie virus on the world. When I put it that way, Brains sounds downright intriguing. Who doesn’t want to hear about the zombie apocalypse from the zombie’s perspective? Much to my disappointment, Brains isn’t just bad; it’s terrible. It falls flat in almost every respect: characterization, plotting, and humour are all gruesomely murdered and resurrected as zombie versions of themselves. It’s been a while since I read a book as bad as this. I considered not finishing it, but at only 168 pages, I decided to stick it out until the bitter end. The length alone is an early indication that the Robin Becker lacks enough story for a good story. After all, her premise is sound and exciting. But after Jack has been transformed and starts wandering across the country, Brains suddenly loses all sense of direction or even progress. So what that he’s going to find Howard Stein? So what that they’ve made it to Chicago? The book drags on and on, describing Jack’s newly found affinity for brains and how he’s drooling over Eve, the hot-but-stupid zombie, and I’m just waiting for something really interesting to happen or for real conflict to break out. Finally, with the pages rapidly running out, we reach a climax of sorts as Jack confronts his creator. But it’s actually very anticlimactic, because the end is not difficult to predict. To Becker’s credit, she tries to include revelations and ruminations that are deep and meaningful … but that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t really care whether Jack or his new zombie-friends survive. I don’t read (or watch) much zombie fiction. Like the larger horror genre in general, it is not my cup of tea. I don’t find zombies very interesting as monsters. Whether they are the traditional shamblers or the new-school runners, zombies don’t impress me. Zombie stories tend to deliver two interconnected moral dilemmas: the cost of survival and the fate of a main character who has been bitten. It’s certainly possible to write excellent, creative zombie stories—still, most of the zombie stories I like tend to be the ones that parody or deconstruct the genre instead of playing it straight: Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland (although it played the genre straight to some extent) … Fido was really weird but had its moments. I enjoyed Feed and found it problematic in equal doses. (I notice now that I have a similar genre-generalizing paragraph in that review. Good to know I’m being consistent in my opinion of zombie fiction!) So a zombie book has to work harder to impress me, perhaps, than someone who is more invested and more forgiving of this genre. But Brains hardly seems to work at all. This is mostly Jack’s fault. He’s an asshole, and he admits it. He claims dying has changed him for the better, but I disagree. I don’t think he’s any closer to having a soul now (if souls existed) or being a better person as a zombie: he goes around eating brains, biting people to turn them into zombies at a whim, and dropping pop culture references in an attempt to sound erudite and hip at the same time. His diction, I gather, is supposed to have a similar effect, and I suppose I can’t fault Becker for her ability to establish a voice for Jack. It’s just not a voice I like very much, and regardless of Becker’s intentions in this matter, it adversely affected my enjoyment of the book. Frankly, I had no emotional investment in zombie Jack or his great plans for his smart-zombie gang. The only zombie I cared about was Guts, because Becker managed to make him cute and endearing, but even that was only a surface affection on my part. It is possible that I could have found it in myself to overlook Jack’s unsympathetic nature if Brains had a more compelling plot. Without going into too much detail, however, nothing interesting happens here. Brains is just … boring. With no reason to care about the main character and little interest in the thin plot, I had a difficult time making it through this short book. That’s a shame. There’s a reason we describe books as page-turners or non-stop action thrill-rides; we yearn for books that draw us into a wider universe beyond the story on the pages and make us salivate for knowledge of that universe. Described in such a florid way, perhaps it sounds like a tall order for a book that might claim to be some “light zombie fun”. I don’t think it is, which is why I’m being so hard on this book. Not only is Brains pointless, but it could be much better. I really like the main idea and wish it were better executed. I’m not so convinced this is all Brains’ fault. The blurbs on the back of this book, which have no doubt been carefully selected to give an impression of agreement, all praise it along the same line. Using adjectives like “smart”, “snarky”, “witty”, and “clever”, these reviewers cast Brains as a “smart” book that taps into popular culture. This idea, that pop culture allusions and a sarcastic narrator are sufficient ingredients for a “smart” book, seems to be a literary myth of sorts. It conflates style with substance and rewards an empty feeling of currency over true depth and emotional impact. That’s not to say that all books that feel current or have lots of pop culture allusions are bad—but these alone do not a good story make. So Brains might be a “smart” book, but it’s a stupid story. If your decaying corpse is lusting after some ripe zombie fiction, look elsewhere—this feast is far from fresh.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kelsie Augustin

    I went to Borders this weekend and decided that to celebrate it being exam week I would pick up a little book to give a go because honestly, as of late I've read almost nothing for fun. The book I chose was a trendy little tome known as Brains: A Zombie Memoir by Robin Becker (who is yes, a female though I can't see the writing style as anything but male. I'll have to ponder why that is later). As of late in the literary world it's been popular to write monster influenced satire. It seems like I went to Borders this weekend and decided that to celebrate it being exam week I would pick up a little book to give a go because honestly, as of late I've read almost nothing for fun. The book I chose was a trendy little tome known as Brains: A Zombie Memoir by Robin Becker (who is yes, a female though I can't see the writing style as anything but male. I'll have to ponder why that is later). As of late in the literary world it's been popular to write monster influenced satire. It seems like the trend started with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and it's popular follow-up Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and it's only continued onwards. I have to say, I picked this book up not expecting much but a little bit due to the usual hyped-up quote from a New York Times Best Selling Author in small print in the bottom corner. Imagine my surprise. Brains was a thoughtful exploration of what life means once it's taken away from you. It was first person, and to be honest I couldn't even tell you the main character's first name (though I believe it was Jack) because honestly the push between yearning to stay with his old identity which was constantly bumped by the animalistic desires for brains of the new was more integral than anything else. I wanted to cry; I wanted to laugh; I wanted to go and bite down on the nearest person just to see (I kid), but the book was very, very good. It was a witty, biting social commentary wrapped up in a tidy little philosophical horror. Even though the author's style was of the rambling variety, the effect of the horrific descriptions of the desolation of death and the stages of devolution in our motley cast of characters was mitigated in the best way possible by the beautiful descriptions of life and nature in this land of death. All in all, Brains was a nauseatingly poignant book and exploration of American culture and human nature that I would suggest to the cynical and strong-stomached.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jasmin Mohd-zain

    I enjoyed this book. Charlaine Harris puts it aptly in her review of this book : "......A witty and unexpected take on the zombie genre : I had a great time." It was fast, funny and full of reference to popular culture and the arts. After all Robin Becker teaches writing at the University of Central Arkansas. So she should know those in her sleep ! Gore and slime, intestines and brains galore. The Professor hero zombie can think and Army Ros, the other zombie can talk! Now that's a first for I enjoyed this book. Charlaine Harris puts it aptly in her review of this book : "......A witty and unexpected take on the zombie genre : I had a great time." It was fast, funny and full of reference to popular culture and the arts. After all Robin Becker teaches writing at the University of Central Arkansas. So she should know those in her sleep ! Gore and slime, intestines and brains galore. The Professor hero zombie can think and Army Ros, the other zombie can talk! Now that's a first for zombies. You will read it and grin........sometimes alternating with a cringe.It is a zombie apocalypse after all !

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ariel Tam

    Brilliantly written, this book tells the story of an English professor that has been turned into a zombie during a world zombie apocalypse. However, when he turns into a zombie, Jack Barnes remains somewhat human because of his 2 traits--cognition and the ability to read/write. Other zombies are, well, zombie-like, with no cognition and only being able to sense human flesh so that it can devour the victim's brains and other body parts. But as Barnes strives to survive as a zombie, he finds that Brilliantly written, this book tells the story of an English professor that has been turned into a zombie during a world zombie apocalypse. However, when he turns into a zombie, Jack Barnes remains somewhat human because of his 2 traits--cognition and the ability to read/write. Other zombies are, well, zombie-like, with no cognition and only being able to sense human flesh so that it can devour the victim's brains and other body parts. But as Barnes strives to survive as a zombie, he finds that there are others like him, with somewhat human qualities left in their decaying bodies of gunk. I won't spoil the details of who has what awesome qualities, but I do admit that this book is pretty darn good. It has action, show-not-tell, suspense, and most of all, it tells the story of a ZOMBIE! Who doesn't want to read something about that? Filled with gory details of the war between zombies and humans, this thriller novel is definitely a must read. I was reading it in the middle of the night at a sleepover. There was a glass window behind me, and every time I looked behind me, I thought I saw a ghost-like appearance of a young zombie girl. It definitely crept me out for the rest of the night. But don't let that stop you from reading this book! Brains is worth every point of the five stars I gave it. Good for any time of book-worm in need of an adventurous, unique book, this is recommended for people of ALL ages. (Though, I advise little children to not read it because of some foul language and gory details. Parents, when reading this aloud to toddlers, make a mental note to leave out inappropriate words and scenes.) And just in case, keep your zombie survival guide at hand at all times. Have fun and keep reading!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dlmoore83 Moore

    Brains was a refreshing experience for Zombie fiction and it was the best kind of gift from a friend. I got a call saying "I have something for you, I think you'll love it. It would probably make me throw up." This friend, knows me very well. It was the best kind of gift because it was for no reason other than she saw it, thought of me and got it. That alone would've made me love it, but fortunately, I can also love it because it's well-written (yes, you CAN say that about a Zombie book - don't Brains was a refreshing experience for Zombie fiction and it was the best kind of gift from a friend. I got a call saying "I have something for you, I think you'll love it. It would probably make me throw up." This friend, knows me very well. It was the best kind of gift because it was for no reason other than she saw it, thought of me and got it. That alone would've made me love it, but fortunately, I can also love it because it's well-written (yes, you CAN say that about a Zombie book - don't be a snob!)AND it was written by a woman - you go girlfriend! Cleverly written, humorous and sad at the same time. "If eyes are windows to the soul, then Marie's soul had left the building." "Wal-Mart--their people make the difference...and the evening meal." "The only Homer they knew was Simpson; their favorite beer was Bud Light. Their idea of an art film was The Shawshank Redemption and their wives collected Precious Moments figurines. What could I possibly talk about with them? The Weather? It was all I could do not to eat them." - proving that even Zombies maintain their dignity and taste, well, most of the time. "We are a rainbow of decay: Khmer Rouge red, Baghdad blue, gangrene green, bruised-apple brown." - that's just poetic for a zombie novel. and the absolute best thing I can say about an author - she wasted no words... in the words of Reading Rainbow - you don't have to my word for it.....

  9. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    I didn't hate this book -- which is why it got three stars -- but it was hard to enjoy. The narrator admits that he was an ass in his pre-zombie lifetime, but since his mind stuck around, he's STILL an ass as he's narrating this "zombie family" journey. Throughout the book, he drops pop culture references so frequently that it starts to get annoying. Almost every story he tells about his life-before-death shows him being classist, sexist, and even a little bit racist during his zombie-ism, I didn't hate this book -- which is why it got three stars -- but it was hard to enjoy. The narrator admits that he was an ass in his pre-zombie lifetime, but since his mind stuck around, he's STILL an ass as he's narrating this "zombie family" journey. Throughout the book, he drops pop culture references so frequently that it starts to get annoying. Almost every story he tells about his life-before-death shows him being classist, sexist, and even a little bit racist during his zombie-ism, through mention of stereotypes as if they were fact. I think my biggest complaint is that the character, as an upper-class white male before becoming a zombie, reads as such. It wouldn't be that much of a problem, except it doesn't always read like the satire that it should, but rather a "woe is me, my white upper-class privileged life" story. But despite my issues with the (probably intentionally) unlikeable main character, I did enjoy the story as a whole. The other characters were of mild interest, and I'd love to read more of minor-character Ros' story, both before and after his zombification. The ending left a bit to be desired, but it's not bad, for a short read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tegan

    I dug this book out of a pile of books meant to go to the thrift store. I really should have left it there. As an avid reader of zombie novels, and this one started out with so much potential. A cheesy, short novel about life as an intelligent zombie - interesting! The first few chapters of the book are entertaining, fast-paced, and lively. Then, suddenly, the quality starts to go down hill. Every other sentence is interrupted with a pretentious reference to some cultural quote or movie or person. I dug this book out of a pile of books meant to go to the thrift store. I really should have left it there. As an avid reader of zombie novels, and this one started out with so much potential. A cheesy, short novel about life as an intelligent zombie - interesting! The first few chapters of the book are entertaining, fast-paced, and lively. Then, suddenly, the quality starts to go down hill. Every other sentence is interrupted with a pretentious reference to some cultural quote or movie or person. The author tries harder and harder to show how intelligent and witty and oh-so-clever the main character is. It gets to the point where pages and pages are taken up with hipster BS and lackluster descriptions of the characters and crappy analogies. I admit I skipped the last few chapters after it got to the point where there was no story advancement, just boring, stagnant descriptions. I read the ending and was not disappointed I hurried through it. Kudos to the author for a unique idea, 1 star for the book for poor execution.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Janette

    There are very few books that I do not finish once I start, but this would have been the exception. I wanted to stop reading so many times and only the knowledge that I am 10 books behind on my reading challenge kept me going. So, much like the hero in the story, I put my arms out and said "moooaaahhh" and kept going, checking the page number every couple of pages to ensure I was making progress. I enjoy books with pop culture reference and sarcasm sprinkled in, but someone had removed the top There are very few books that I do not finish once I start, but this would have been the exception. I wanted to stop reading so many times and only the knowledge that I am 10 books behind on my reading challenge kept me going. So, much like the hero in the story, I put my arms out and said "moooaaahhh" and kept going, checking the page number every couple of pages to ensure I was making progress. I enjoy books with pop culture reference and sarcasm sprinkled in, but someone had removed the top to the shaker! Many paragraphs were just the continuation of similes, sometimes a couple of paragraphs were. If I could catch it in time I would skip to the bottom of the paragraph and save the trouble of reading it. Then I would hold the book out in front of me, say, "mooaaahhh" and keep going… I have sat here a little while trying to think what to write. It is difficult criticizing someone else's work, after all it is better than any book I have written. But then again, I might have spent more time and thought on this review. . .

  12. 4 out of 5

    kittenlogic

    i was all amped up and ready to be in love with this novel because of the subject matter, but there were so many things that kept me from liking it. first and foremost, i think this author fancies herself a little palahniuk, because the narrator's voice is so reminiscent of his characters. if you love palahniuk, then you'll find this awesome. if you don't? then you totally won't. after about 4 pages, i was already annoyed with the main character. sometimes it was funny, sure. but so much of the i was all amped up and ready to be in love with this novel because of the subject matter, but there were so many things that kept me from liking it. first and foremost, i think this author fancies herself a little palahniuk, because the narrator's voice is so reminiscent of his characters. if you love palahniuk, then you'll find this awesome. if you don't? then you totally won't. after about 4 pages, i was already annoyed with the main character. sometimes it was funny, sure. but so much of the rest of the time i was reading this, i was rolling my eyes. yes, i know you're extremely well-read. yes, i got the point that you're an academic. thank you for continually reinforcing this by dropping a dizzying number of references! you're so clever! second, the pace. things start happening immediately. despite the narrator's annoying voice and the completely unbelievable gilmore girls esque banter between him and his wife, i was excited and found myself tearing through the first half of the book. then came epic disappointment. **** here be spoilers, so if you plan to read this, you might want to skip this part. i'm going to be as vague as possible. **** ***** the vague spoilers are coming, you had your chance! ***** so the main character is a zombie, as we know, and he comes up with a plan. in the first half of the book, things happen that take us rocketing toward victory and a successful plan. but ... it doesn't happen. it seems almost randomly, the characters decide to just abandon the plan because of some seemingly simple-to-overcome circumstances. i mean really, in comparison to what they had to do to get to that point, the thing that turns them away seems almost silly. after this happens, the characters spend the next half of the book on this ill-planned, meandering journey to nowhere. they don't know where they're going, and neither does the author, it seems. page after page of pointless wandering (whoa! they're zombies! i see what you did thar! but it wasn't done well enough for me to be able to tell if it was intentional or not). you make it to the end of the novel - just a few pages left - and you're wondering how the hell this is going to end. well, it does, abruptly. and it's like getting to the end of the wizard of oz, where dorothy is about to go home, but she instead decides to shoot the wizard in the head and tear the ruby slippers to pieces. ***** end semi-spoilers ****** this novel had so much potential, and wanted to make some interesting comments on human nature and society's ills, but fell so short. instead it just felt to me like when i go out to a mexican restaurant and they tell me they're all out of guacamole tonight. what's the point?

  13. 5 out of 5

    Burt

    America is the land of promise. Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Man is free to find destiny within the borders of this land and to make a path in the world. But, what happens when you're dead? More importantly, what happens when you're dead, mobile after a fashion... and insatiably hungry? Brains: A Zombie Memoir poses just such a question vis it's protagonist, Jack Barnes, a former university professor who finds himself undead after an viral outbreak turns the entire world into a America is the land of promise. Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Man is free to find destiny within the borders of this land and to make a path in the world. But, what happens when you're dead? More importantly, what happens when you're dead, mobile after a fashion... and insatiably hungry? Brains: A Zombie Memoir poses just such a question vis it's protagonist, Jack Barnes, a former university professor who finds himself undead after an viral outbreak turns the entire world into a Romero-esque nightmare. However, the lot of the 'stupid zombie' is not for Jack. When he comes to he finds that while unable to sleep or to perform certain physical acts (such as driving for example), there is absolutely nothing wrong with his thinker. In fact, he feels more mentally acute than ever, there's just one problem. He needs brains. He needs them SO much. After eating the family dog (a pathetic creature with a small,l unsatisfying brain), he sets out into the American heartland on the road to Chicago to meet the father of all Zombies, Dr. Stein, supposedly the creator of the viral plague that transformed the world. On the way, he finds other rare super zombies: Guts, the fast zombie, Joan, the zombie doctor, Annie, the zombie sharpshooter and even Drake, the zombie who can still talk. Together, Jack hopes that he can reason with their accidental 'father' and find a way to co-exist. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of brains. All being said, this book is a quick but satisfying read... if you like zombies that is. It's gore spattered pages contain much which is humorous, but also contains parts that are disturbingly human, yet equally horrifying in scope. Its not a book for the faint of heart, but I recommend it for those with a strong stomach and a sick sense of humor.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michelle F

    This is a strange one to review. I can't quite call it literary fiction. I don't know why, for sure...maybe it lacks a certain type of depth or arrogance? In any case, it's a slender, humorous read that seems to be have gotten a lot mixed reviews here on GR. I get that. I'm having a tough time coming to my own consensus about what I thought of it. I think the author accomplished much of what she set out to do, honestly. It starts with an interesting concept: a pretentious, douchey professor This is a strange one to review. I can't quite call it literary fiction. I don't know why, for sure...maybe it lacks a certain type of depth or arrogance? In any case, it's a slender, humorous read that seems to be have gotten a lot mixed reviews here on GR. I get that. I'm having a tough time coming to my own consensus about what I thought of it. I think the author accomplished much of what she set out to do, honestly. It starts with an interesting concept: a pretentious, douchey professor retains his intellectual sentience when he turns into a zombie, but the only tangible physical skill he can manifest is the ability to write his thoughts down on paper. I think if he (Jack is his name) had maybe had a clearer purpose from the get-go, the novel would have flowed more smoothly. Interestingly, some of the biggest complaints seem to surround the main character and his sheer unlikability, but I genuinely believe he was meant to be a self-centered asshat right from the beginning. I think it was a brave choice for a debuting author, and I think she conveyed him quite well. Unfortunately, because it's a memoir, and because he really can't dialogue (his zombie friends can't read), we spend just a bit too much time inside his head, with his pomposity and pop culture and god complex. It does wear on the reader. I do get that. Still, it was witty and well written. Worth a go, if you like the challenge of a distasteful protagonist.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Wow. That was truly an enjoyable read! I spoke with a young lady who works at the library and she had recommended a zombie book amongst a display of other books recommended by staff. I asked if I could check the book out, since it had a marker on it, and I happen to have asked the person who made the recommendation. She is a zombie book fan, which is great news for me. She had the latest scoop on other zombie novels to read. Anywho, the narrative is entertaining, the zombie family is endearing, Wow. That was truly an enjoyable read! I spoke with a young lady who works at the library and she had recommended a zombie book amongst a display of other books recommended by staff. I asked if I could check the book out, since it had a marker on it, and I happen to have asked the person who made the recommendation. She is a zombie book fan, which is great news for me. She had the latest scoop on other zombie novels to read. Anywho, the narrative is entertaining, the zombie family is endearing, and I couldn't help but like them despite their cannabilistic ways. My one complaint is that Becker uses a lot, and I mean a lot, of references to advertisement slogans and to movies that happen to have similarities with the situations the zombie family is encountering. At first this was annoying, but then it became more amusing as the story progressed. I know it's a statement about our culture and the things we consider worthwhile or important, but it was just a bit much. Overall, I loved this book and highly recommend it to other zombie fans!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kristie

    While refreshing and an original idea, there are two things that I really can't get past. 1. There were so many pop culture references just for the sake of doing it that it actually became cringe-worthy. Very few of them had anything to do with what was going on and rarely enhanced the story. It got to the point where if I read a paragraph and it didn't have a culture reference, I felt a wave of relief - occasionally going back to make sure I hadn't skipped a line. 2. The main character is an While refreshing and an original idea, there are two things that I really can't get past. 1. There were so many pop culture references just for the sake of doing it that it actually became cringe-worthy. Very few of them had anything to do with what was going on and rarely enhanced the story. It got to the point where if I read a paragraph and it didn't have a culture reference, I felt a wave of relief - occasionally going back to make sure I hadn't skipped a line. 2. The main character is an asshole. Not the kind where you look past it because he needs to be one to survive, or the kind where you still root for him anyway. Just a real d-bag. It got to the point where I didn't even want things to work out for him, I just kept reading hoping he would have a total emotional crisis and completely break down. Still a good book, still well-written, still worth a shot. Environments, characters and emotions were well described and thought out. Unique plot, keeps you captivated and reading. Just prepare for crude humor.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jennie

    I don't really know what I was expecting when I picked up this book. I read the prologue, thought it sounded kind of fun, I was looking for a little diversion from the "serious" stuff I've been reading. I got the diversion, but I absolutely hated this book. I hated the vulgarity, hated the characters, hated the storyline (and the dog-eating), hate hate hate. I didn't expect to have such a strong reaction, but I completely loathed it. So much so that it became only the third book (the first two I don't really know what I was expecting when I picked up this book. I read the prologue, thought it sounded kind of fun, I was looking for a little diversion from the "serious" stuff I've been reading. I got the diversion, but I absolutely hated this book. I hated the vulgarity, hated the characters, hated the storyline (and the dog-eating), hate hate hate. I didn't expect to have such a strong reaction, but I completely loathed it. So much so that it became only the third book (the first two being a series of "feminist" essays written by women who hate their religions, and Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth) that I have thrown in the recycle bin rather than inflict them further on humanity by donating them to Goodwill. If I could give this book negative stars, I would.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maicie

    My sewing machine and computer broke at the same time. I can easily spend eight or more hours a day on either one. So I had ten or so days to either clean the house or read. Eight books and another inch of dust later.... Unfortunately, I've forgotten most of what I've read. What I remember about this book is the ending. It was really good. But it took a lot of effort to get there. If I hadn't purchased the book I might not have finished it. Remember when you were a kid and someone tickled you? It My sewing machine and computer broke at the same time. I can easily spend eight or more hours a day on either one. So I had ten or so days to either clean the house or read. Eight books and another inch of dust later.... Unfortunately, I've forgotten most of what I've read. What I remember about this book is the ending. It was really good. But it took a lot of effort to get there. If I hadn't purchased the book I might not have finished it. Remember when you were a kid and someone tickled you? It was giggle-inducing for a few seconds but after that it was pure torture. That's the best description for this novel. It was wave after wave of puns and slapstick humor. I just got tuckered out after awhile. But the ending is really good.

  19. 5 out of 5

    sj

    To paraphrase Dr. Frank: This book's like, "Yeah!" And I'm all, "No." And it's all "Come on, sj! Let's go!" And I'm like, "I don't think so." And it's going... This book's like, "Um..." But I'm all, "Hey!" And it's all, "Come on, sj! Let's play!" And I'm like, "That's okay..." And it's going... (view spoiler)[I really didn't like this. I never give up, but I found this book incredibly frustrating, to the point that I almost threw my NOOK across the room. Sorry, book. You're not for me. (hide spoiler)]

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Wilson

    I really enjoyed this book and found it to be very memorable. It isn't what I would normally pick up, not by a long shot, but after hearing Robin Becker read a couple of the sections, I was hooked. This book took me a couple of hours one afternoon to read and I am glad I did. It was high entertaining. While it was intense at times, the wonderful use of her sarcastic humor can't be overlooked. Definitely a good read!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lor

    Brains: A Zombie Memoir is a garbage book. I hated every second I had to read this nonsense. I started out thinking it was gonna be good, because the description was quite enticing, but now I understand why my library decided to throw it out. But once I start something, I can't stop, so I just had to sit there and groan as the book got progressively worse. I ended up skimming the last few chapters. Short review: Gratuitous references to Intellectual Things that made the book almost unreadable Brains: A Zombie Memoir is a garbage book. I hated every second I had to read this nonsense. I started out thinking it was gonna be good, because the description was quite enticing, but now I understand why my library decided to throw it out. But once I start something, I can't stop, so I just had to sit there and groan as the book got progressively worse. I ended up skimming the last few chapters. Short review: Gratuitous references to Intellectual Things that made the book almost unreadable Weirdly paced (lack of) plot Insufferable main character who is The Most Smartest Person Ever and never faces any obstacles that he must struggle to overcome Can’t tell what this book was supposed to be, but whatever it was, it failed miserably. Very very long review (fair warning, I'm not gonna bother with spoilers. Just let yourself be spoiled. It's not worth reading): (view spoiler)[Writing At first, I thought a man wrote this. You know how certain men write with an air of entitlement and condescension? Yeah. But I look on the back, and it's a female author. I got whiplash. The way she describes women, focusing almost exclusively on their breasts, is exhausting and so characteristic of a male author. Then I read the acknowledgements, where she says that her husband taught her how to write, and I was like, "Ohhhhhh, that makes a lot of sense." Besides all that, the book is competently composed. Becker has a good grasp on the English language, but isn't afraid to dip into more stylized writing. She's very good with sensory details, I'll give her that. It gets repetitive though, especially the way she describes how the zombies feed. It’s like, we get it, it’s grotesque, can we get some plot in here or what? Another thing. Her writing is 50% actual writing and 50% references. It drove me INSANE. She would have someone do or say something, then have the narrator list out 3-4 things that it’s “similar” to in an effort to make himself seem cultured or smart. But it never did, because these comparisons never amounted to anything, only a fleeting acknowledgement of “yeah, that’s right, I know what this is, aren’t I so super-duper smart?” What would make it smart, or at least a little interesting, is if she actually used these comparisons in a meaningful way. And, y’know, limiting it to like, fewer than 20 references per page. That would help. Plot Not much to say here, because there wasn’t really a plot. There was the general idea of finding Dr. Stein, but that amounted to 281 pages of shambling across run-down interstate highways, with the occasional feeding frenzy. If we look at a basic plot structure, exposition was the prologue + chapter 1, chapters 2-21 were rising action, chapter 22 was the climax, and the falling action/resolution (I’m combining them because they were indistinguishable) was the epilogue. It was so weirdly paced. Almost all of the book was a lead up to finding Dr. Stein, and when they did, literally nothing happens? Like, they all die, sure, but the whole zombie treatise thing that was so important to the main character was written off in a couple paragraphs. WHAT. He spends the entire book going on and on about how he was going to set his people free with this document, this crowning achievement of his life, allowing everyone to live together peacefully, and it gets tossed in the trash in 0.2 seconds while he gives in to his zombie nature and eats Dr. Stein. Excuse me??? What is that??? Can I get some resolution, some thought, some consideration??? I’m not asking for a happy ending, I’m asking for an ending that doesn’t feel like it was written in the 5 minutes before class because you forgot to do your homework. Also, the hypocrisy of the ending really gets to me. Because, what was the moral of the story again? That you can try all you want, but in the end it will all be for nothing, so you might as well give up on hope and just give into whatever it tempting you? That doesn’t sound like a moral. That sounds vaguely existential. No meaning to anything you do. The hypocrisy comes in when you consider that Esteemed Intellectual and Main Character Jack Barnes thinks that absurdism is outright buffoonery. Speaking of… Characters Oh good Heavens, the main character was insufferable. He had the biggest god complex I’ve ever seen in my life, especially considering that he was an English professor at a college in Iowa. Iowa. He actually recited a prayer to himself, and he constantly refers to himself as the savior of his people and the hero of this story. He’s so holier-than-thou, saying shit like “oh I’ve never read Stephen King because it’s beneath me oh ho ho” “popular things are intellectual wastelands teeheehee” When I had to read that with my own two eyes, I’ve never been angrier in my life. Excuse me, little bitch boy, but this whole fucking book is beneath me. It’s beneath everyone. And yes, that includes teenage girls, the demographic that you seem to despise most despite being sexually attracted to them as a 40-something-year-old-man. You can just go ahead and fuck right off. Would you like to know, how I can tell, that this, Man, is supposed, to be a real character, and not a caricature of snooty Intellectuals? Would you like to know??? Two examples (I’m going to paraphrase because I would rather die than read another word in that godforsaken book): 1. Hi, I’m breaking the fourth wall for absolutely no reason other than to tell you that I, Jack Barnes, am the hero of this story. If you look at the hero’s journey, which I know so well because I’m ~educated~ and ~cultured~, you can see me following all the steps. Now watch as I save the world because I’m such a super special zombie and brilliantly gifted writer!!! 2. Remember how I was as a human? Yeah, I was a total jackass. And even though I act the exact same way now that I’m dead, I realized how much I’ve grown to become a better person since I died. Wow. I am so great. One thing I’ll hand to him. He did grow as a character. Granted, it was the smallest growth imaginable, which was learning how to care about another person, but it happened. However. He never had to struggle for anything. Like, oh no, sometimes he was hungry. But there was never anything at stake that he had to work for. Half the time, food was brought to him by the zombies he so effortlessly turned into his devoted followers (no one is even remotely resistant to his leadership or upset he killed half of them). The big “We must find Dr. Stein and end the humans vs. zombies war” is easy. The book tricks you into thinking it’s difficult because it takes so long to get there, but in actuality, it’s just him overcoming the easiest obstacles ever at a remarkably slow pace. He doesn’t have to work on the treatise, because he’s already the most brilliant writer ever (Dr. Stein even compliments how incredible he is before saying there’s no hope for peace!). He doesn’t have to lift a finger to find Dr. Stein, because the second they get to Chicago, he is served up an a silver platter. The biggest problem he had to face was solved by just going underwater and hibernating. Nothing at stake physically. Emotionally? Even less. He eats his wife, and he’s sad about that for a hot minute before going, “eh. It was for the best.” He gets over Sarah (whom he called Eve because he’s a pompous bastard with no respect for women) even faster. Sad he never had kids? He feels like a father to Guts and Annie (by the way, what kind of fucking father takes a bite out of his daughter’s ass because it’s thick ‘n juicy???) All of his friends die? He never mourns, and then he miraculously finds Isaac and Annie a-ok! His only hope for saving his kind, a job he took really seriously, doesn’t work out? Just become a drooling, brainless zombie! It’s that easy!!! As for the rest of the characters… There wasn’t anything particularly despicable about them, nor was there anything particularly interesting. They were all pretty much completely obedient to Jack and didn’t do anything without his approval. They were more or less stock characters. For a horde of zombies that were supposed to be intelligent, they sure didn’t have a lot of brains. Miscellaneous things that rubbed me the absolute wrong way I couldn’t really tell what this book was supposed to be about? Was it satire? Was it exploring what makes someone human? Was it examining society as a whole? Kind of yes, kind of no, and it does a real bad job of going into any of those options. Which is completely wild, because it seems like the author gets off on explaining things to her readers in a condescending fashion. Jack compares himself to infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. Then, exactly one page later, quotes Anne Frank’s “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.” Jack prefers women who have anorexia. Seriously, what the fuck? I’m gonna quote the book, because paraphrasing can’t do it justice: “I adored anorexics. With their low self-esteem, desire to please, and rigorous self-discipline, what’s not to like?” Granted, he said this to back up his statement that he was an asshole in life, But as far as I can tell, he’s pretty much the same pervy dickhead that he was in life, so. Take from that what you will. Whenever she tries to incorporate science, it’s just wrong. Like, I’m no biology expert, but a zygote is a single fertilized egg cell, not a mass of cells. Also, it’s a virus, right? A virus that turns you into a zombie? If so, how the hell does it make smart zombies and regular zombies? It’s not completely scientifically accurate, I get that, I understand. Sometimes you just gotta say, “this virus makes people into zombies because that’s what it does.” But you can’t just… Have one strain of a virus produce wildly different outcomes at random If anyone has any theories as why or how this works, I’m all ears. I have a general idea of something that could allow for smart zombies vs regular zombies, but nothing to explain how it can arise at random. I won’t spend too much brain power on it though, since I’ve finally finished with that diseased garbage and will now kick the book into the sun. Thank you, goodnight, and never read this book. (hide spoiler)]

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lacey

    New record for me. Put this one down after 8 pages. Disappointing.

  23. 4 out of 5

    BookMarc

    When I first laid eyes on this book I actually thought it was an ARC due to the layout and design. Perhaps not so much the front, which looks fresh and crisp, but the back of the book just had that ARC feel about it as if it would get rearranged at some future point. Oh, and the stare of the authors eyes on the back cover had me freaked out. That's not to say Robin Becker freaked me out, as I think she's an attractive woman and I wouldn't kick her out of bed for farting, but there was just When I first laid eyes on this book I actually thought it was an ARC due to the layout and design. Perhaps not so much the front, which looks fresh and crisp, but the back of the book just had that ARC feel about it as if it would get rearranged at some future point. Oh, and the stare of the authors eyes on the back cover had me freaked out. That's not to say Robin Becker freaked me out, as I think she's an attractive woman and I wouldn't kick her out of bed for farting, but there was just something about that stare that seemed to be probing into my mind letting me know they would locate my darkest secrets if given the opportunity. It got to the point where upon putting down the book I had to make sure it was front cover up as I could feel those eyes watching me...always watching. Although it's easy to jump to conclusions I should inform you that this is not an autobiography about one of the Olsen twins. Nope, 'Brains' is the memoir of Jack Barnes who is somewhat the hero of the book even though he is a zombie. You see, in this very unique take on the zombie genre the zombies are victims of a virus and some degree of sympathy is bestowed upon them. In addition to the regular, mindless zombie scenario a few of the main characters keep various aspects of their humanity for reasons never explained. Jack Barnes for instance is still able to think coherently and able to write, hence the memoir, even though he can't speak, drive a car or move about particularly well. On his journey to find the scientist responsible for producing the lethal virus he befriends other zombies each of who still retain an ability that they had as a human including a zombie who can speak, a nurse who can still administer aid and a girl who retains her remarkable ability to be a crack-shot with a weapon. However, they all still have the need to eat brains. The story starts out strong with sharp, incisive humor with a quick immersion into the main story. As it progressed though I found the humor was too much and the storyline too shallow and it became obvious the author was attempting to keep it fresh by jaunting into various subjects and giving us Jack Barnes opinion of that said subject. For instance, about midway through the novel religion becomes very prominent in the analogies given and the one liners that are used. Then it fades out to be replaced by the next topic that the author decided to fixate upon for a while. It was as if Becker was thinking, "what topic should I make fun of next?" and then worked that topic into the storyline. Don't get me wrong the humor was smart and witty but there was just too much of it in comparison to the lack of storyline. At times the novel becomes farcical, no more so than with the appearance of Oprah Winfrey (although never mentioned by name, to avoid a lawsuit or something, the reader is left in no doubt that it's Oprah the author is referring to) and, for me at least, this was too much of a sharp contrast to the otherwise clever and snarky humor that make up the memoir. A few inconsistencies exist within the novel such as zombies being weak yet they somehow have the power to tear off peoples heads at will or rip apart peoples skulls with their hands. There was an inconsistency near the very end of the novel that pulled me out of the story when the main character, who at one point when inside a building, takes minutes to get up off the couch, minutes to walk to door and more minutes to open it (p140) suddenly "...climbed onto the ledge of the boat and jumped, flying through the air like Superman..." to land on a human in the space of a few seconds while gunfire was going on all around him. Very convenient for the storyline but a series of actions that went against everything we had been taught about Becker's version of the undead. In fact the ending was very weak overall, which was a shame as the story had enough guile and entertainment to keep me reading through to the end regardless of its faults, and the logic applied at the end as the reason for killing all zombies, even the ones who retain elements of their humanity, is very flawed...basically, once a zombie always a zombie. I'm glad society doesn't treat alcoholics, depressives, Jehovah's Witnesses etc. in that way otherwise they would all be shot dead! Still, I did enjoy this offering and it was different from any other zombie novel I have read. Certainly not a classic in my opinion but a decent read nonetheless.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Busky3

    If you were a huge fan of zombies like me, this might be the book to convince you to give them up entirely. The author perverts the concept of zombies until its nigh unrecognizable. First, it's done cleverly with the zombie narrator who can write, thus facilitating the making of the book. It's a necessary conceit and one that could've been interesting. Later though, a zombie shows up who can talk in complete sentences complete with idioms and supposedly witty banter, no instances of which are If you were a huge fan of zombies like me, this might be the book to convince you to give them up entirely. The author perverts the concept of zombies until its nigh unrecognizable. First, it's done cleverly with the zombie narrator who can write, thus facilitating the making of the book. It's a necessary conceit and one that could've been interesting. Later though, a zombie shows up who can talk in complete sentences complete with idioms and supposedly witty banter, no instances of which are actually clever. One wonders why even use zombies as a platform if you're merely going to toss everything meaningful about them out other than the crass tapping into an already existing commercial appeal. The narration by the author zombie is insufferable, drenched in terrible pop culture references and literary allusions that scream at the top of their lungs: "these are things I'm aware of as an English major/pop culture junkie." Zombie (Insert Quotable Person) pops up every 3-4 pages in the narration to offer a turn on their most famous phrases (I think therefore I eat brains), a device that reminds one most of the sterling wit of greeting cards. At no point is any of the dialogue spoken by the living characters engaged with the reality of the situation at hand thus reducing any interest that you might have had in it. While the narrator slowly transforms into the undead with his wife close by, they make awful puns about the situation or argue about what is the proper word to describe a woman who has been technically "widowed" by her husband being only undead. He later eats her and feels bad about it sometimes but others not at all because his feelings about being a zombie are never made clear. At times, he talks about eating people like its a shameful act and at others he's recalling the vast menagerie of Universal monsters as if they were role models. The zombie's ultimate plan is doomed to failure (really? show the humans that you can think and they'll just be OK with the fact that you eat people?) but still it's dragged out for nearly 200 pages. Finally, none of the zombie characters are likable and their eating habits are described in enough disgusting detail that you really don't want them to win or even live. It was a monumental failure that should be read by all in how not to write a book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    Brains: A Zombie Memoir by Robin Becker was brilliant, to say the least. It was edgy, refreshing and totally unlike anything I have read lately. It was a quick read, at only 192 pages. I only wish it would have been longer- but the author was clever leaving it as she did. I don't know if I will get to visit the courageous and cunning Jack Barnes again- though I would be the first one in line to buy a second book if there ever was one. A scientist, Stein, has been trying to mold the perfect Brains: A Zombie Memoir by Robin Becker was brilliant, to say the least. It was edgy, refreshing and totally unlike anything I have read lately. It was a quick read, at only 192 pages. I only wish it would have been longer- but the author was clever leaving it as she did. I don't know if I will get to visit the courageous and cunning Jack Barnes again- though I would be the first one in line to buy a second book if there ever was one. A scientist, Stein, has been trying to mold the perfect person. But, just like it should- it all goes wrong when they release the virus before it is ready. This leads us to the endearing college professor, Jack Barnes, and his wife being surrounded by infectious people. Zombies. He inevitably contracts the foul zombie virus that has been eating the country. Along with his newly decaying body he has found a new passion: Brains. He says it better than anyone, "...beautiful, bountiful, bubbly, bewitching, bedazzling brains." I am in love with the way this book is written. It made me laugh, cringe and hope. Hope for zombies? Who would have thought. I was utterly torn, do I want the zombies to get slaughtered?! Do I want them to survive to brutally eat more humans!? Geesh, I still don't know. But I DO know that I loved Jack Barnes and his little entourage of special zombies. Jack goes on an adventure with his fellow zombies to find their God, their creator... the reason this all started. Stein. I mean, he must appreciate their existence, right? He'll help them survive among humans.... right? This is what I love about Jack- when you look into his eyes, they aren't vacant and glossed over like the majority of the undead. No, he is self aware. He can read. He can write. And he is smart enough to realize there are others like him. He finds Guts, Joan, Annie, Ross and Eve. All with their own individual zombie super powers. They will fight for equality, or die (again) trying! I highly suggest this book to anyone- if you don't mind some serious flesh eating. The book is written in first person, which is why it is so much fun. Who doesn't want to be present for the thought process of a self aware zombie? I'm going to be reading this book more than once, and recommending it to all my guy friends. Can we have another, Ms. Becker?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    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 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.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    Summary The zombie horde have arrived and eaten everything in their path. Including Professor Jack Barnes. Jack Barnes is an intelligent zombie. Sure, he can't talk, but he can think and he can write. This is his memoir of what his life as a zombie has been like in the first months. Characters As the story is told from Jack's view, you don't really get an awful much in the way of character development. Jack, on the other hand, goes from being a narcissistic, self important professor to a Summary The zombie horde have arrived and eaten everything in their path. Including Professor Jack Barnes. Jack Barnes is an intelligent zombie. Sure, he can't talk, but he can think and he can write. This is his memoir of what his life as a zombie has been like in the first months. Characters As the story is told from Jack's view, you don't really get an awful much in the way of character development. Jack, on the other hand, goes from being a narcissistic, self important professor to a narcissistic, self important zombie. The rest of the characters are merely supporting staff roles in their treatment. There is the nurse that patches them up, a soldier for obligatory comedic relief -- at least he's not black, a black kid that is also used for comic relief and is the token fast moving zombie, the dumb blonde bimbo, and even a little devil child. Notes It doesn't take long to figure out that book is a satire and something the author wrote for fun. The author is a writing professor at a university, so there could be a lot said for what she choose to write as what in this. Such as the fact that Jack was an English or English Lit professor -- actually, I'm not sure on that. He could have been a writing professor. Keep in mind, this is obviously a take on the zombie craze. It's satirical, it's supposed to be fun. However, I found it tedious in a lot of parts. About every other page there was a paragraph of metaphors for something that was going on. Every page was packed with references to the zombie pop culture. After a while, that just got boring and annoying. Honestly, I skipped ahead and skimmed pages often when I got tired of reading the pretentious nature of "Jack Barnes".

  28. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    When Brains begins, the zombie apocalypse is already underway. It even reaches the door of Jack Barnes, literally, and so when hes bitten by a zombified neighbor who crashes through the living room window (Barnes is distracted while bickering with his wife), the transformation begins. An English professor at a small college in rural Missouri, Barnes fares better than his mindless cohorts in that he remains sentient, and so he begins to focus on the two goals in his life: find others like him, When “Brains” begins, the zombie apocalypse is already underway. It even reaches the door of Jack Barnes, literally, and so when he’s bitten by a zombified neighbor who crashes through the living room window (Barnes is distracted while bickering with his wife), the transformation begins. An English professor at a small college in rural Missouri, Barnes fares better than his mindless cohorts in that he remains sentient, and so he begins to focus on the two goals in his life: find others like him, find Dr. Howard Stein, the creator of the zombie virus, and find brains to eat. (All right, THREE goals.) Barnes can write but can’t speak, hence the book we are now reading. His pop culture and literary references (including, of course, George Romero) keep coming rapid fire, even in his undead state, making this a wry and witty read. At 182 pages, I devoured this book (pardon the pun) in one day. If the squeamish can keep some of the more graphic and disturbing passages out of focus (as a parent, I try not to envision the passages of Barnes and his “super” zombies eating the occasional child), they can even find themselves smiling and feeling some empathy. I can’t wait to see what Becker comes up with next.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Arthur

    Zombies and that culture of things as taking over mankind that will run over everything in their chosen paths is worth every penny. My best guess is reading this novel of survival. Jack Barnes aka Captain is sophisticated, a zombie and who takes great pains in his pleasure of eating brains. Likewise in all zombie stories Barnes was first an unsuspecting victim in the virus holocaust of the living dead. Barnes parallels for us an unexpected tale with plentiful insight of what life is like after Zombies and that culture of things as taking over mankind that will run over everything in their chosen paths is worth every penny. My best guess is reading this novel of survival. Jack Barnes aka Captain is sophisticated, a zombie and who takes great pains in his pleasure of eating brains. Likewise in all zombie stories Barnes was first an unsuspecting victim in the virus holocaust of the living dead. Barnes parallels for us an unexpected tale with plentiful insight of what life is like after death if you become the infected through a bite by a zombie. Few go this far and pale in comparison. Often we watch survivors before being bitten by a zombie survive until the last moment. The end! The tale of both tides is waiting for Jack Barnes as he learns to survive as a zombie. Jack Barnes is himself zombie number one.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Flint

    Well this book is different, I give it that. I'm not sure there's another zombie novel out there that makes the zombie the protagonist of their story. Unfortunately being different wasn't enough for me to enjoy this book. There's really no story here, not to mention the main characters were zombies whose sole purpose was to eat as many brains as possible and moan alot. How is a reader supposed to connect to characters like this? Another issue I had with the book was the endless barrage of Well this book is different, I give it that. I'm not sure there's another zombie novel out there that makes the zombie the protagonist of their story. Unfortunately being different wasn't enough for me to enjoy this book. There's really no story here, not to mention the main characters were zombies whose sole purpose was to eat as many brains as possible and moan alot. How is a reader supposed to connect to characters like this? Another issue I had with the book was the endless barrage of references to pop culture, movies, books and history which circulated as inner dialogue within the mind of the head zombie. I think this was somehow supposed to make the book witty and clever, but all I felt was irritated.

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