Breathers: A Zombie's Lament - S.G. Browne Initially I really enjoyed this. Setting aside the opening scene, I really felt for the main character, who lost his wife in a car accident, which killed them both, but he spontaneously reanimated. He found himself in a world that reviled him. He had a daughter whom he was no longer allowed to see or even to contact via letter. His parents took him in, but his father pretty openly despised him, and while his mother obviously still loved him, she obviously couldn't cope with what he'd become. It was a picture of hopelessness and loneliness. We're introduced to the other zombies, who all carry with them the marks of their fatal injuries.

I really would have liked to know more about what Andy's relationship with his parents was like when he was alive. He never gets into that. I don't need details, but I assume his father didn't always hate the sight of him. Some idea of what they were like would've really added to things.

One recurring incident that was amusing, but kind of inexplicable was people throwing their food at zombies whenever they saw one. I initially thought nothing of it, but when people began throwing half a sandwich, it started becoming implausible. I just don't see myself wasting a sandwich I'd fully intended to eat, to throw it at a zombie. Surely if I were throwing something at a zombie I would choose something more likely to injure it and slow it down. Eventually Andy, our narrator, observes that people seem to be going out and buying food specifically to throw it at him, and that's just weird.

When Ray was introduced, it was fairly obvious what his jars of "venison" really were. Something I noticed at first was the main character saying it tasted like chicken. I think this may have been the first clue. Actual venison doesn't taste like chicken. It's a lot more like beef; at least when I've eaten it. But the main character had not eaten it, so didn't have a basis of comparison. And even if Ray shared it with someone who had tasted real venison before, Andy also mentioned they don't retain their sense of taste, so they likely wouldn't recall if it was right. Though that does bring up the question: How did he know it tastes like chicken?

I really enjoyed the first three quarters of this. The end of this book, I really disliked. From here on out, pretty big spoilers, all right?

I was entertained by the gradually developing clues that Ray's Resplendent Rapture was not venison, their gradual healing. I was quite surprised by the sudden ability for Andy to develop an erection and then have fantastic sex with Rita. He'd said his blood didn't flow. That was their final clue, at which point they figured out what they'd been eating.

Everyone was fairly all right with this. I realize I'm thinking like a zombie, and as Andy says repeatedly throughout the book, I probably wouldn't understand. But I'd really want to know how Ray acquired his meat. That would be important to me. Maybe he'd killed someone in self-defense? It feels weird contemplating the ethics of cannibalism, but it gets explored in vampire fiction all the time, right? Everyone was very all right with suddenly eating flesh. I thought it actually might have been interesting if they pursued the civil rights for zombies more thoroughly. Perhaps they could arrange for organ donors for zombies. But the whole civil rights angle wound up feeling like little more than a red herring, by the end.

Andy blacking out and murdering his parents wasn't really given enough thought. He didn't seem concerned with the implications that something like that might happen again. Is it something that can happen to any zombie at any time, or just Andy?

Rita's pregnancy was really problematic for me. I found it odd that they didn't try to find a zombie who'd been a doctor, to try to help her out. Her situation was unique and a Breather doctor would never have worked, but a zombie might have. I don't know how likely it is that they could have found one, but while they're banned from the internet and can't network, Ian didn't really have those restrictions, since he wasn't known to be dead. Anyway, the pregnancy brought up a lot of questions. Would she "miscarry" if she didn't eat Breather on a regular basis? Would the baby be decomposing? And, at 5 weeks pregnant, how did she even know? If her period had come back, I don't think enough time had really passed in the book for her to notice missing one. Was she experiencing morning sickness? Was she just randomly taking pregnancy tests due to other bodily functions returning?

I felt Rita's death was a cheap way to avoid answering all of these questions. By the end, I didn't see how the book could reasonably end with anything other than Andy's death. It felt like a lazy ending, though, to avoid examining these things.