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At first glance Breathers appears to be written by a literary graverobber, ransacking the tombs of boyish pop culture, but upon reading the novel you discover something far more entertaining than its synopsis promises.
In its Shaun of the Dead flourishes, Andy Warner is presented as a member of a zombie underclass, a new social minority with less than appealing physical traits. As a result, he can’t see his daughter and lives in his ashamed parents’ basement.
When he joins Undead Anonymous, in a touch looted from Fight Club, he meets Rita: a suicide with a taste for the formaldehyde in cosmetics, written of course to be played by Helena Bonham-Carter (apparently, HBC won’t be playing her in the movie adaptation, though). Together they taste bottled ‘venison’ from undead hunter Ray – reminiscent of Korean film Dumplings – and gain a new lease on (un)life.
However, comedy and a carefully crafted narrative voice mean this book overcomes the tightrope of genre convention and cliche it so death-defyingly treads. It’s a fun book and will make an entertaining film. Browne’s Bram Stoker Award-nominated first novel (republished here as his fourth) promises deadpan humour with brains even if the writer sometimes lacks the guts needed to truly bring the genre back from the dead. With Diablo Cody co-producing the film, we might be pleasantly surprised when it hits the big screen.