Book Review: The Surprisingly Touching I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus
We're not sure how this whole zombie craze got started -- maybe the signs of the apocalypse have us fixated on our disastrous end, or maybe we've just made a subconscious connection from the facial expressions of zombies to that of iPhone users. Either way, there is no denying that this country is obsessed.
And undoubtedly you have someone in your family or close circle of Facebook friends who is too. Add that to the impending doom of the print industry and our unhidden agenda to force you all to save bookstores and we have the perfect holiday gift idea for your loved ones!
S.G. Browne's I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus has got it all -- brain-eating, government-testing, Santa suits, adorable orphan children, and electrodes attached to genitals. (Not the genitals of the orphan children, don't worry.)
Let's get real, here. Sure the title is cute and yeah, the book is about zombies so, duh, we want to buy it, but what about the literary quality? We're not going to gift any kitschy old zombie novel. Is I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus actually a good book? Well, we surprise even ourselves when we tell you that, yes, yes it is. When we opened this book, our first thought was, "Oh crap. This is gonna be super dumb, and we're gonna read the whole damn thing."
And you know what? We did. And we liked it. We read the whole damn thing in four hours. We cried for a second and we laughed a few times -- wine may or may not have been involved.
The whole zombie trend is getting old, sure. And yeah, all the spin-off poetry books, clothing lines, and TV shows need to die [Ed note: except The Walking Dead!]. But we'll give Browne credit where credit is due. We grew to love his characters, not in a way where we saw ourselves in them or wanted an eternal series of books about them, but at least to the point where we reacted in real-life to what happened to them in their book lives. Browne takes his book from ridic zombie puns to relatable characters and an endearing storyline.
The beginning of the book is a bit bumpy -- we have a feeling that there are some references and inside jokes from the first book in this series, Breathers, that we just weren't catching. Once Browne gets going, however, he pulls his readers in with a casual conversational account of life as a zombie. Not just any zombie of course, Browne's main zombie, Andy Warner, is a celebrity of sorts who wound up imprisoned in a government testing facility after attempting to lead a zombie civil rights movement. As a genetic freak whose cells in death are rejuvenated by the consumption of human flesh, Andy seems to be pretty much human on the inside with a sarcastic outlook and a painful past that he (surprise!) buries in his memory. As he attempts escape, Andy befriends his fellow captives and embarks on a journey to save zombie-kind and Christmas for one little girl he meets while disguised as Santa Claus.
The jokes are alright -- we weren't rolling in the aisles, but we weren't angry about them either. And pro-tip: Like anyone, Browne is funnier if you're drinking. We may have actually laughed out loud at one point when Browne's hero-zombie begins to explain the struggles of eating human flesh and casually comments that if now-zombie was past-vegan human, they may as well just set themselves on fire. That may just be because of how we feel about vegans, we're not sure. Anyway, Browne is clever and easy to like throughout the novel. He even manages to pull the whole story around to a touching and heartfelt conclusion that reluctantly moved us to tears. Beware if you have sisters or daughters or Christmas in your life.
Now that the song is stuck permanently in your head, with the wrong words of course, get out your wallet and secure I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus for your nearest and dearest zombie freaks. Available on S.G. Browne's website or at Books, Inc (the West's oldest independent bookstore). If you're still not completely sold, just check out the first chapter of the first in the series, Breathers, read by the man himself down below: