Book Review: Breathers By S. G. Browne

Image of a digital book cover. 1950s vintage style zombies kiss in the middle of a heart with an arrow through it.

Billing itself as a rom-zom-com (romantic zombie comedy), Breathers looks to get into the psyche of those reanimated corpses out to eat  your brains, not to mention deep-fry your fingers. Andy is in his 30s and living in his parents’ basement after reanimating from a car crash that left his wife permanently dead. Andy is depressed and slowly decaying, but all that changes when he starts attending Undead Anonymous weekly meetings. There he meets Rita, and together with other members, they stumble upon southern zombie Ray who gives them jars of his venison that tastes remarkably good to Andy and has some interesting affects on him.

Review [spoiler warning]:
Breathers starts out with a bang. Nothing sucks you in quite like a main character waking up from an alcohol-induced blackout to discover he’s killed his parents and stuffed their dismembered bodies in the fridge and freezer. Browne’s dark humor serves the storyline well. It’s not easy to take a repulsive, cannibalistic, walking corpse and make him a sympathetic character instead of the terrifying other, and Browne achieves this… a certain extent.

At first Andy and the reader don’t know that the “venison” he’s eating is actually people. Both the reader and Andy see the positive effects of eating humans before they fully realize that’s what he’s eating. (Although, come on, I had my definite suspicions, even in a world where vampires are “vegetarians” and have Tru Blood.) Andy stops decaying and starts protesting for his civil rights to be reinstated, for zombies to be recognized as equal and valid. This is a popular, obvious analogy for various human rights fights going on around the globe. Awesome. It’s great for people who aren’t ordinarily treated as an other to get a first-person account of what that’s like.

This analogy though is why I have a bit of a problem with the twist toward the end whereby we see that eating humans leads to cravings for more humans and eventually we have a full-out blood bash eating a house full of frat boys. Aesthetically, as a horror fan, I love the blood bash. Nothing quite like reading a first-person account of what it’s like to eat another human being alive. However, the lesson learned here is that while the other may seem cute and cuddly, all your suspicions about them are true. Don’t trust them for a minute or they’ll turn full evil on you.

Browne doesn’t seem to have an issue demonizing select groups. The whole frat boys stealing limbs from zombies as pledges followed by the zombies eating the frat boys and their various one-night stands and girlfriends reeks of a weak, geeky boy’s wet dream. Revenge of the nerds zombie-style.

It’s unfortunate that Browne lets his bitterness undermine his enjoyable writing style–a wonderful mix of humor and horror.  Hopefully his next effort leaves the personal grudges behind and just gives us the humorous horror we want.

If you found this review helpful, please consider tipping me on ko-fi, checking out my digital items available in my ko-fi shop, buying one of my publications, or using one of my referral/coupon codes. Thank you for your support!

3.5 out of 5 stars

Length: 310 pages – average but on the longer side

Source: Library

Buy It (Amazon or

  1. September 1, 2009 at 8:37 am

    I love your book reviews, I think I might go read this and overlook the dehumanizing of fratt boys. I don’t think I’m going to use rom zom coms to influence how I think about discrimination and hum(zombie)an rights.

    On a different note District 9 is also about racism and human rights, except it’s also about aliens and an awesome character transformation (hehehe).

    You should toss a cover image in there, it’s totally covered by fair use.

    • September 1, 2009 at 8:41 am

      Fran! Yayyyy I’m glad you appreciate my book reviews! I was hoping they weren’t just being tossed noiselessly into the etherspace.

      I was recently wondering about cover images, because I love the cover for Breathers. Good to know it’s covered by fair use. Might have to edit that in later. Yay LibraryThing.


  1. October 28, 2014 at 3:26 pm
  2. July 17, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: