Brains: A Zombie Memoir

( 37 )

Overview

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 ...

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Brains: A Zombie Memoir

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Becker's slender debut novella is an unusual take on the zombie genre: part Grapes of Wrath, part postmodern memoir. A virus outbreak turns millions of people into mindless zombies, and the remaining humans declare war on the undead. Zombified English professor Jack Barnes discovers that he has retained his memories and his consciousness. Joined by several other sentient zombies, Barnes sets off to find the virus's creator in hopes of presenting a treatise on zombie civil rights. Barnes's dogged entitlement and self-centeredness make him both uninteresting and unbearable, and while Becker's writing is crisp, the plot meanders like its characters, consisting of little more than cannibalistic feasts and tin-eared literary and pop culture references (“Hell is other zombies”; “Perhaps life as a zombie is better than no life at all”). (June)
Booklist
“Becker’s humorous first-person narrative will have readers rooting for the zombie crew, and she keeps the action moving at breakneck pace. Smart, funny, weirdly uplifting, Brains is a most welcome addition to zombie lit.”
Charlaine Harris
“Barnes, a rare sentient zombie, tries to develop a program to create a zombie-human nation, but sadly, all he wants is a brain. Yours. A witty and unexpected take on the zombie genre; I had a great time.”
Jonathan Maberry
“Smart, original, funny and fascinating, Brains: A Zombie Memoir by Robin Becker sends the zombie genre shambling in a fresh, new direction. Go on, take a bite.”
S.G. Browne
“A zombie delight for the thinking man (and woman), Brains is a feast of literary parallels, pop culture references, and historical metaphors, with enough blood, guts, and brains to satisfy any zombie lover’s appetite. Smart, gory, and fun.”
Mario Acevedo
“A zany disembowelment of American pop culture. Snarky. Gory. Out of control. Dementedly delicious...brainilingus!”
David Wellington
“Witty and clever, Brains is a thinking zombie’s book about what it means to be human, or almost human, and what we all owe each other whether we like it or not.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061974052
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/25/2010
  • Pages: 182
  • Sales rank: 695,985
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Robin Becker is waiting for the Zombie Apocalypse. In the meantime, she plays guitar, fishes with her husband, and teaches writing at the University of Central Arkansas. This is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 37 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(15)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 25, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Not Bad At All

    This book is different from your regular zombie books. It is from the perspective of a thinking zombie. I liked it because it was different and a change of pace. There were still the icky, gory parts that i love as well.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 11, 2011

    Flimsy storyline but funny and entertaining.

    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.
    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Unexpected Laughs

    I'm not into zombies at all, but when I saw this book I figured I'd give it a try and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the book! Some parts were very gross (I was eating lunch & reading during one particular scene and couldn't finish my lunch...) but overall I enjoyed it very much.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2011

    Did not expect to like this book.

    Not into the whole zombie thing, but I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the flow of this authors voice. Very witty humor, easy enjoyable read. Still not into the whole zombie thing though.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 18, 2010

    The testament of Jack Barnes, Contemporary American Literature professor-turned zombie.

    Jack, the zombie protagonist, is delightfully unrepentant about killing and eating (or deliberately biting and turning) the humans he comes across. He is who he is: a brain-craving walking corpse who stashes body parts in his pockets for snacks later on. He isn't interested in being human, recapturing his humanity, or slotting back into his old life. His goal is to travel across the country with a handful of other self-aware zombies and plead a case for equal treatment and equal rights with the scientist who created the virus that spawned them.

    A self-appointed zombie messiah making a pilgrimage to meet his hallowed creator (god) to make the case for zombie equal rights, and collecting or making other "smart" zombies along the way, sounds ridiculous. It is ridiculous. It is also funny, gory, and touching. Robin Becker, through Jack and his rag-tag group, asks the question any self-respecting writer of speculative fiction asks: What does it mean to be human? Jack, like any good literature professor, repeatedly hits us over the head with this question until we get the point. His memoir is his answer: Humanity involves more than simply being human.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2010

    Zombie comedy that explores the 'human' imprint on a zombified world

    Since I have never read a zombie-centric book in my life, I decided to broaden my horizons when an opportunity to review one came up. And I think I have found yet another genre that I highly enjoy!

    After reading and laughing (out loud may I add!) my way through the first chapter I had to keep going to see what antics Jack would get involved in with his search for his creator. This book was exceptionally clever and entertaining until the last page. I was infatuated with the idea that he still maintained a 'human' perspective with the instinctual thirsts that a zombie would possess, in one word, BRAINS! I loved that he would rationalize most situations as a human would, but survival instincts almost always prevailed.

    The characters that Becker created were phenomenal. Although most of the zombies shuffled around with food on the mind, there were some stand-out characters that still retained their human-like qualities which made a hilarious and entertaining motley crew as they battled their way across the United States. Another human-like quality that I appreciated in Jack were his random tangents of pop culture from current events surrounding him.

    This was a fun and quick read that I highly recommend to anyone who wants to explore the inevitable zombie takeover of the world!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    So much fun!

    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?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2014

    Enjoyable from start to finish

    Can be read as an extended metaphor for the pitfalls of humanity, an allegorical "Wizard of Oz", or simply a fresh take on the zombie story. Any way you read it, this book is both refreshing and funny while still having a kind of moral background. It was worth the money.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 20, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A unique take on the zombie trend. A little clunky, but still en

    A unique take on the zombie trend. A little clunky, but still engaging.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2012

    Liked but did not love

    Liked but did not love.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2012

    Very good

    I thought that this zombie-centric novel was well written. I was enthralled with this witty, funny, and ironic book. It was written in first person, from the view of Jack. He is on an epic journey to meet the creator of zombies for the purposes of equality and (uneasy) peace.

    This book was so good that I read it in one sitting. A very good job of presenting "smart" zombies that are different from others, but who accept their own fates can be found in this title. I recommend the book,"Brains!", to zombie fans and others who like something different.

    -AvidReader

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  • Posted June 25, 2011

    Funny and touching? Zombies?

    Wow...I actually got this book from my library but would gladly have paid for it! Entertaining, funny, smart. Actually one of the best books I've read in a while!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 19, 2011

    If you like the genre it is a most have

    A good quick read from a first time author.

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  • Posted September 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Brains A Zombie Memoir

    A pretty cool idea; zombies want equality. Jack Barnes, a former professor has turned to a zombie but can think and write (but cannot express his thoughts in voice). Together with other zombies, they take upon a journey to find the man who created the zombie virus and in turn try to live in harmony with the humans. I liked the idea, but didn't feel anything towards Jack and his crew. An average zombie read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2010

    Zany Zombie Story

    Cheeky humor with cult classic zombie appeal.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews

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