BOOK REVIEW: ZOMBIE BY JOYCE CAROL OATES

ZOMBIE

GENERAL INFORMATION

TITLE: ZOMBIE

AUTHOR: JOYCE CAROL OATES

PAGES: 181

PUBLISHER: ECCO PRESS

YEAR: 1995

GENRE: CRIME FICTION

COVER TYPE: PAPER BACK

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombie_(novel)

www.usfca.edu/jc

BLURB FROM THE BACK COVER

Meet Quentin P.

He is a problem for his professor father and his loving mother, though of course they do not believe the charge (sexual molestation of a minor) that got him in that bit of trouble.

He is a challenge for his court-appointed psychiatrist, who nonetheless is encouraged by the increasingly affirmative quality of his dreams and his openness in discussing them.

He is a thoroughly sweet young man for his wealthy grandmother, who gives him more and more and can deny him less and less…  

REVIEW

Zombie is based on the life of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.  I didn’t know this until I did some research online in preparation for this review.

Zombie won the Bram Stoker Award for ‘Superior Achievement in a Novel’ in 1995.

HIGHLIGHTS: Zombie is written in a very unique, first person narrative. The novel’s narrated by Quentin P and Oates uses his own words, grammar (slang, random words in italics and BLOCK CAPS) and run-on sentences. There are even little ink sketches and pictures. This worked really well. I loved it. Zombie chilled me to the bone almost constantly. This isn’t the first time I’ve read from the viewpoint of a serial killer but it’s certainly the most unsettling. Quentin P is one sick, creepy fuck. His total lack of empathy or connection to the rest of the world gave me shivers. He completely objectifies his victim and this also gave me the creeps.

LOWLIGHTS: In Zombie, Quentin P’s victims never really come to life. They are just objects who cross his path in his obsessive quest to turn the young man of his dreams into his mindless sex slave through a lobotomy.  This made it impossible to feel any sympathy for them or shock when Quentin P killed them. However, as Zombie is written from Quentin P’s viewpoint this is expected. I’m used to reading novels when I sympathise with the characters and I wanted Quentin P to be caught, thrown in jail and possibly strapped to the electric chair.

THE OPENING LINE 

My name is Q_ P_ & I am thirty-one years old, three months…

FINAL THOUGHTS

I think Zombie is one of Oates’s best novels. Its right up there with my favourite, Little Bird of Heaven. I love how she can write about subject matter other novelists avoid and knock my socks off. I’ve read a couple of duds recently (the awful My Sister, My Love) but Zombie reminded me why she’s my favourite writer.

RATING

5 STAR

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18 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: ZOMBIE BY JOYCE CAROL OATES

  1. I agree that this is one of her best. And, despite all of the killings that go on, Oates makes you feel very little sympathy for them. You are right. It is just like the people are means to an end, which is how Q views them.
    –JW

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