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Zombie: A Novel

Zombie: A Novel

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Zombie: A Novel

ratings:
4/5 (45 ratings)
Length:
165 pages
2 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Nov 3, 2009
ISBN:
9780061960116
Format:
Book

Description

Zombie is a classic novel of dark obsession from the extraordinary Joyce Carol Oates. A brilliant, unflinching journey into the mind of a serial killer, Zombie views the world through the eyes of Quentin P., newly paroled sex offender, as he chillingly evolves from rapist to mass murderer. Joyce Carol Oates—the prolific author of so many extraordinary bestsellers, including The Gravediggers Daughter, Blonde, and The Falls—demonstrates why she ranks among America’s most respected and accomplished literary artists with this provocative, breathtaking, and disturbing masterwork.

Publisher:
Released:
Nov 3, 2009
ISBN:
9780061960116
Format:
Book

About the author

Joyce Carol Oates is a novelist, critic, playwright, poet and author of short stories and one of America’s most respected literary figures. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University and a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction.

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Zombie - Joyce Carol Oates

Publisher

Suspended Sentence

1

My name is Q__ P__ & I am thirty-one years old, three months.

Height five feet ten, weight one hundred forty-seven pounds.

Eyes brown, hair brown. Medium build. Light scattering of freckles on arms, back. Astigmatism in both eyes, corrective lenses required for driving.

Distinguishing features: none.

Except maybe these faint worm-shaped scars on both my knees. They say from a bicycle accident, I was a little boy then. I don’t contradict but I don’t remember.

I never contradict. I am in agreement with you as you utter your words of wisdom. Moving your asshole-mouth & YES SIR I am saying NO MA’AM I am saying. My shy eyes. Behind my plastic-rimmed glasses that are the color of skin seen through plastic.

Caucasian skin that is. On both sides of my family going back forever as far as I am aware.

My I.Q. when last tested: 112. A previous time tested: 107. In high school when tested: 121.

Born Mt. Vernon, Michigan. February 11, 1963. Dale Springs public schools. Dale Springs High School, class of 1981. Q__ P__ graduated forty-fourth in a class of one hundred eighteen. Did not win a scholarship to any college. Did not belong to any sports teams, school newspaper or yearbook etc. Highest grades in math except in senior year calculus where I fucked up.

I see my probation officer Mr. T__ alternate Thursdays 10 A.M., downtown Mt. Vernon. My therapist Dr. E__ Mondays 4 P.M., University Medical Center. Group therapy with Dr. B__ is Tuesdays 7 P.M.

I am not doing well, I think. Or maybe just O.K. I know they are writing reports. But I am not allowed to see. If one of these was a woman I would do better, I feel. They believe you, they are not always watching you. EYE CONTACT HAS BEEN MY DOWNFALL.

Mr. T__ asks questions like rolling off a tape. YES SIR I tell him NO SIR. I am employed. On a regular basis now. Dr. E__ is the one who prescribes the medication. Asks me questions to get me to talk. My tongue gets in the way of my talking. Dr. B__ throws out a question as he says to get the guys talking. They’re bullshit masters. I admire them. I sit inside my clothes staring at my shoes. My whole body is a numb tongue.

I drive everywhere in my Ford van. It is a 1987 model, the color of wet sand. No longer new but reliable. It passes through your vision like passing through a solid wall invisible. My American flag decal big as a real flag in the rear window.

My bumper sticker is I BRAKE FOR ANIMALS. I thought it was a good idea to have a bumper sticker.

2

Is Time outside me, I started wondering in high school. When things began to go fast. Or is Time inside me.

If OUTSIDE you have to keep pace with fucking clocks & calendars. No slacking off. If INSIDE, you do what you want. Whatever. You create your own Time. Like breaking the hands off a clock like I did once so it’s just the clock face there looking at you.

3

I am a registered part-time student at Dale County Technological College where I am enrolled in two three-credit courses for the spring semester. INTRO TO ENGINEERING & INTRO TO DIGITAL COMPUTER PROGRAMMING.

It was decided that Q__ P__ might become an ENGINEER. There are many kinds of ENGINEERING. Chemical ENGINEERING, civil ENGINEERING, electrical ENGINEERING, mechanical & aerospace ENGINEERING. The college catalog lists the requirements for majors. Q__ P__ might earn a degree in how many years Dad calculated.

In the detention center downtown where they locked me up awaiting Dad posting my bond I was observed doing rapid calculations in pencil. Up and down the margins of old magazines laying around. Weird: my hand moving like it had its own purpose. Like in eighth grade, algebra equations. Geometry problems except I didn’t have a compass or ruler but drew the figures anyway. Long columns of numbers like ants just to add them up for the hell of it, I guess. I don’t know why. This went on for a long time. For hours. I was sweating onto the magazine pages watching where the pencil point moved. Even after the pencil point got dull and the marks were invisible. Even when the guard was talking to me and I didn’t hear.

They had me quarantined as they called it. Ninety-one percent of inmates at the detention center are black or Hispanic, white guys are put together in holding cells. I was with two white guys busted on drugs. I was tagged RACIAL OFFENSE. But it was not RACIAL. I don’t know what RACIAL is.

I am not a RACIST. Don’t know what the fuck a RACIST is.

Sweating & my hand holding the pencil was moving but I wasn’t talking. Nor EYE CONTACT with anybody. It was observed how for that period of incarceration Q__ P__ was not talking & was not making EYE CONTACT with anybody.

In that way the fuckers slide down into your soul.

How Dad learned of these math calculations I don’t know. Might have been they allowed him to observe me through one-way glass. On a surveillance camera. & the magazines were probably gathered & given to him for examination. He is Professor P__ & they call him so. He said the idea came to him then. To lend me tuition for the tech college where I would learn to be an ENGINEER. We would all forget about Mt. Vernon State U., that hadn’t worked out. That was years ago.

A longer time ago when I was eighteen there was Eastern Michigan State at Ypsilanti. We had all forgotten about that long ago.

Quentin has a natural love of numbers Dad said to Mom. In my hearing. His voice thick like he was trying not to clear his throat of something clotted. A gift for numbers. Inherited from me. I should have realized.

THAT IS WHY I am a part-time student at Dale County Technological College. & I am studying hard. Dale Tech is seven miles from my current residence but no inconvenience for me, I told my probation officer Mr. T__, I have my Ford van I drive everywhere in. A distance of seven hundred miles is nothing, but I did not tell Mr. T__ that.

4

As of last Monday my residence is 118 North Church Street, Mt. Vernon. University Heights the area is called. Close by the big State University campus where Professor P__ teaches. (But Mom & Dad live in the suburb of Dale Springs, on the other side of town.)

At 118 North Church I am CARETAKER for this residence once my grandparents’ home. None of the tenants know this fact I am certain and I would not be the one to tell them.

The property is still owned by my Grandma P__ who lives now in Dale Springs. But it is maintained by my father R__ P__ as a multi-tenant residence partitioned into nine rental units as approved by the zoning commission.

As a gesture of our trust, Quentin. Dad said.

Oh but Quentin will do a good job! We know that. Mom said.

Grandma’s house is an old faded-red brick Victorian as they call it. With a smudged look in the front like somebody moved his thumb across it. Three storeys, plus the attic. An old addition at the rear used for storage. A big kitchen where tenants have kitchen privileges as they are called. A deep cellar which is OFF LIMITS to tenants. A stone foundation that is very solid. Clearing away some underbrush I discovered at the front right corner the date 1892 chiseled in the stone.

University students rent the rooms. The residence has been zoned for such a purpose since 1978 Dad was saying. If I knew this fact or not I don’t know.

As CARETAKER of this property I live on the ground floor rear in the room provided for the CARETAKER. This is a room with its own bathroom, a shower stall & toilet. There have been previous CARETAKERS working for Dad but I don’t know anything about them.

The back stairs to the upper floors & the stairs to the cellar are close by the CARETAKER’s room which is convenient. Nobody can use these stairs except by passing my door. The CARETAKER’s tools & equipment, work bench etc. are in the cellar.

I have access to all the floors of the house. Because I am CARETAKER. My father R__ P__ has entrusted me with this responsibility & I am grateful for the chance to make things up to him & Mom. My master key will open the door to any room in the house.

Most of the students who rent with us are foreign students. From India, China, Pakistan, Africa. Often they have trouble with their doors at first, so I am called upon to help. Mr. P__ they call me. & I am always obliging though speaking no more than is necessary. & MAKING NO EYE CONTACT.

Thank you Mr. P__ they will say. Or thank you sir.

Their dusky skins & dark-bright eyes & dark hair that looks oiled. A smell of them like ripening plums. They are shy & more polite than American students & they pay their rent on time & don’t notice things American students would notice & don’t trash their rooms like American students which is why Dad says they are preferred tenants. Quiet in the evenings. At their desks studying. They all have contracts with a residence hall for meals so using the kitchen is kept to a minimum, I am mainly the one who uses the kitchen but I don’t eat there I eat in my room watching TV. When I’m not out.

All the houses on North Church Street are big old brick or wood-frame Victorians. In big lots. In Grandma’s & Grandpa’s time when Dad was growing up here they were single-family residences of course. This was a classy neighborhood. University Heights. Grandma says it was after World War II the change began. In all of Mt. Vernon. Now North Church Street properties are rooming houses like ours or office buildings or taken over by the University like the house next door that is EAST ASIAN LANGUAGES. At the corner of North Church & Seventh three blocks away where the University president’s house used to be the lot was razed for a high-rise parking lot. So ugly! Grandma says. Farther up is a Burger King just opened that Grandma has not seen yet where sometimes I get hamburgers & fries I bring back to my room to eat & watch TV or do my homework for my courses.

This is a small white card tacked beside my door. I printed it myself with a black felt-tip pen.

5

Monday afternoons 4:00 P.M.-4:50 P.M. Mt. Vernon Medical Center. Dr. E__ asks What are your dreams,

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Reviews

What people think about Zombie

3.8
45 ratings / 32 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Absolutely chilling and fully realized as a character study, if salacious and a bit gratuitous.
  • (4/5)
    To begin, this book is not about zombies, well not in the definition that I think of them. It is about the definition a serial killer gives to the word, the serial killer that this book is about. It is a creepy, first person account of the thoughts and actions of Q_ P_, a 31 year old white man that likes to kill and is looking for his perfect "zombie". This book "feels" real, and the doodles on these pages only add to the creepiness! Good ending too!
  • (4/5)
    Absolutely lovely. A very easy read, and Oates has taken in Jeffrey Dahmer's story and made it something on its own without resorting to shock tactics.
  • (3/5)
    I don't know about Tiggers, but I don't like this stuff. Spending a summer inside the head of a serial killer is about as pleasant as being hung up in Alien's larder with a larva feeding in your guts.
  • (3/5)
    Joyce Carol Oates's Zombie is the first person journal narrative, complete with crude Magic Marker drawings, of a registered sex offender turned serial killer named Quentin P____ (one of whose aliases is Todd Cuttler), who prowls the lower peninsula of Michigan (primarily the fictional university town of Mount Vernon, near Lake Michigan, although sometimes he ventures as far afield as Lansing, Detroit, and Ann Arbor) in search of "love" -- really, sex slaves -- in the persons of various, largely non-white, teenaged boys and young men; Quentin P___'s journal documents, in more or less linear fashion, his progression from an inept "kiddie fiddler" to an impulsive, obsessive serial killer in his late thirties as he attempts to create a "ZOMBIE": a lobotomized sex slave (to this end, he visits the dentist at his mother's urging, and steals one of the dental picks there since he sees it as an ideal tool to perform a transorbital lobotomy on his victims) who will obey his every command: "A true ZOMBIE would be mine forever. He would obey every command & whim. Saying 'Yes, Master' & 'No, Master.' He would kneel before me lifting his eyes to me saying, 'I love you, Master. There is no one but you, Master. "& so it would come to pass, & so it would be. For a true ZOMBIE could not say a thing that was not, only a thing that was. His eyes would be open & clear but there would be nothing inside them seeing. & nothing behind them thinking. Nothing passing judgment......."A ZOMBIE would pass no judgment. A ZOMBIE would say, 'God bless you, Master.' He would say, 'You are good, Master. You are kind & merciful.' He would say, 'Fuck me in the ass, Master, until I bleed blue guts.' He would beg for his food & he would beg for oxygen to breathe. He would beg to use the toilet not to soil his clothes. He would be respectful at all times. He would never laugh or smirk or wrinkle his nose in disgust. He would lick with his tongue as bidden. He would suck with his mouth as bidden. He would spread the cheeks of his ass as bidden. He would cuddle like a teddy bear as bidden. He would rest his head on my shoulder like a baby. Or I would rest my head on his shoulder like a baby. We would eat pizza slices from each other's fingers. We would lie beneath the covers in my bed in the CARETAKER's room listening to the March wind & the bells of the Music College tower chiming & WE WOULD COUNT THE CHIMES UNTIL WE FELL ASLEEP AT EXACTLY THE SAME MOMENT." -- Chapter 15 The model for Quentin P___ is Jeffrey Dahmer; while Zombie is a short novel and a quick read, it's not without intellectual interest, particularly in Quentin's references to current theories in physics (such as dark matter), and in passages that recall the work of the so-called godfather of the Beats, William S. Burroughs: "BIG GUY lived maybe fifteen hours I think dying as I was fucking him in the ass (not in the tub, in my bed) to discipline him as a ZOMBIE & I only comprehended he was dead when during the night waking needing to take a piss I felt how cold he was, arms & legs where I'd slung them over me & his head on my shoulder to cuddle but BIG GUY was stiffening in rigor mortis so I panicked thinking I would be locked in his embrace!" -- Chapter 19 Come to that, the whole of Zombie is more than a little reminiscent of a distillation of much of Burroughs's work, given its obsessive, drug-and-alcohol-addled, deeply misogynistic protagonist with a narrow band of autodidactic learning, a tenuous grasp of reality, a bottomless well of rage alternating with inanition, and a perverted sex drive wholly wedded to a taste for violence and domination; add some psychic, giant, transdimensional centipedes, gunslinging boy-whores from the Old West or New York City's Lower East Side c. 1920, orgone projectors, dubious and absurd covert organizations, and an incompetent, junkie surgeon (paging Doc Benway...), and you'd have a full-blown Burroughs pastiche. Zombie does have a fair share of acidulous, mordant humor, but it is by definition not to everyone's taste. Gore crows seeking another Michael Slade or Dexter or Hannibal Lecter are likely to be disappointed in Zombie, finding it too highfalutin and not nearly bloody enough (and, possibly, too "gay"); readers looking for more obvious literary merit are also likely feel let down by Zombie, finding it too lowbrow and too pulpy for serious consideration. While I respect Ms. Oates's career and mostly admire her as a critic (although I think she is misguided in her evaluation of James M. Cain's Mildred Pierce), from what little I've read of her fiction thus far, I find that I admire her more than like her; her fiction seems almost wholly intellectually-driven, like Graham Greene's (he of the machine-tooled prose): it lacks that ineffable spark of life that characterizes my favorite works. In the end, Ms. Oates's fictional creations don't quite convince; they are cleverly crafted constructs, puzzled out at an emotional distance that prevents them from inspiring in their readers that frisson of truly great works. Keeping these caveats in mind, Zombie is by no means a waste of time; I suspect that it is not truly representative of Ms. Oates's fiction, but it is an interesting oddity for all of that.
  • (5/5)
    Imagine a sort of Breakfast of Champions Serial Killer novel, yeah it's based on Dahlmer but it's so much more.
  • (4/5)
    Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates 1995Dutton4.0/5.0I really loved how Oates took inside the mind of a serial killer. Parts of this were really descriptive and gross, brilliantly written.Quentin P_, shamed for having gay tendencies by his father, has lived a mostly closeted life as a gay man. An angry, psychosexual serial killer, only going after young boys he can easily overpower and control. They become his zombies to do as he pleases....This won the Bram Stoker Award. Brilliant, short, extreme and twisted. I really enjoyed this
  • (3/5)
    JCO gets into the mind of a serial killer?Who knew?There is no other view point in this terrifying study of murder, torture and love. Yes, love.that deranged mind was looking for a Zombie to love him.Ms.Oates is such a versatile writer, not many could pull this off.Yet she does with quite the flair for the macabre. At times i wanted to put the book down and could not.Quite a story.
  • (4/5)
    A gritty, disturbing portrayal of a serial killer and rapist, this short novel takes the form of journal writings of Quentin P, a registered sex offender on parole. Joyce Carol Oates is an excellent story-teller, and she varies her writing style to suit the story she is telling -- in this case, with great success.
  • (5/5)
    This book makes me want to read everything Joyce Carol Oates has ever written. The style of writing fits so well with the story and main character, it was scary. Let's just say that I wouldn't want to meet Quintin but what if I have? What if it's someone I know? Oates made this character so believable it sent chills down my spine. Her writing is poetic and realistic at the same time. I can't wait to read more of her writing and will be running back to the library to pick up whatever I can find.
  • (2/5)
    This was such an unpleasant story that, although well written, I didn't want to come back to it whenever I set down the book.
  • (4/5)
    Very disturbing first person narrative about a drug-addicted psychopath-zombie's experiments in the creation of his own personal zombie in a deranged search for unconditional love. I would not recommend this work, although it is superbly written, for everyone. The subject matter is not only disturbing but creepy and Joyce Carol Oates' ability to bring reality to the serial killer's thought process is scary! I am going to have to read something much lighter to clear away some of the darkness of this novel.
  • (2/5)
    Zombie. Joyce Carol Oates. 1995. The only other book I have read by Oates is Grave Diggers Daughter, which I thought was excellent; so this one was quite a shock to me. I don’t know anything about Oates, and I wonder what she was thinking as she wrote this spooky, sick novel. The story is told in first person by Quentin P, a young sex offender. We hear his version of is life as he evolves from a sex offender into a serial murderer. Chilling. Not for the faint-hearted.
  • (5/5)
    Crazy! Like so many who feel entitled to any & everything they want, see & covet; Q.P. is a stark depiction of how some people (without empathy) justify their deeds & blame others for the outcome. I was frightened, knowing I could go missing-my killer never found…forgotten*
  • (4/5)
    I'll be straight forward, Zombie is a highly disturbing book to read. Not only is the subject matter disturbing (this isn't about your typical zombie, but that's all I'm saying about that. Spoilers!), but Oates' writing from the view point of the main character is equally disturbing. You see, her main character is a serial killer sexual deviant psychopath, and there is nothing in the book that is even remotely uplifting. We are witness to his thoughts and his actions, while also seeing how he portrays himself to the rest of the world. The book is a disturbing look into the mind of a very dangerous, sick person, and I don't know that I'd recommend this book for anyone unless you have a strong disposition.Saying all that, I think the book is fascinating. As a character study, Oates does an amazing job, but she also makes sure that she never sugar coats her character to try to make people feel for him. No, by the end of the book, I didn't have any emotion other than repulsion about the character. I honestly can't get away from the word disturbing when I try to think of another way to describe, the book, the character, the writing style... it is simply disturbing. I've never experienced Oates' writing before, and even though the nature of this book isn't something that I would read on a day to day basis, I think I'd be interested in reading more from her in the future.Guardedly recommended.
  • (3/5)
    Creepy and disturbing.
  • (4/5)
    A young man who is a drugged out Zombie himself, abducts other young men and attempts to give them lobotomies in order to create a Zombie who will give him unconditional love. Really demented but intelligent serial killer!
  • (3/5)
    It's not that this is a bad book or badly written. It's just that I gained no insight, no meaning and no resolution from this book. I think what lacked most was the structure. Written as the diary of a psychotic serial killer, it was quite short with several small chapters, much like most diaries. There was little, actually zero insight into this guy's mind. I really had no interest in any of the characters, probably because it was written from his POV and he didn't care much about any of them. It seemed pointless and it lacked any satisfying conclusion.
  • (4/5)
    I borrowed this book from the library. In the back of the book was the old "card" that they used to use to track the due date on books, before everything became computerized. All the entries were date-stamps, except the last entry on the list. In very nice handwriting is the single word: filthI understand that sentiment completely.The content is jarringly filthy/depraved and this is made more obvious by how it is all related as if it were perfectly "normal".It is as close to the inside of a psychopath's head as I ever hope to get.I liked it better than the other 2 books of this type I've read recently: The Seven Days of Peter Crumb and People Still Live in Cashtown Corners. This is not to say there's much of a plot (there isn't) or that the story is resolved in any acceptable manner.
  • (4/5)
    This novel is narrated by a psychopath, and his own peculiar voice is what makes the story interesting as a piece of experimental writing. I can’t say that I cared much about the story itself, though.
  • (1/5)
    This is not terrifying or "monstrous," and it is not a shocking revelation. It does not take us "into the mind of a serial killer." It is not "harrowing," and it's not "disturbing." It is a strained and earnest attempt to imagine the kind of life that would decisively overturn bourgeois values. But it doesn't do that, because the imagining of the Other is already part of middle-class American life. Even the most surprising lines pale as soon as they're read, because it becomes clear that they are imagined by a novelist, working in an upper-middle class suburb, with the help of years of research into serial killers. If Oates really wants to write outside of modern middle class America, she should write like Perec, or Roussel, or Bernhard. Those are three very different examples, but they share two crucial traits that show how awkward and forced "Zombie" is: first, they are decisively outside bourgeois values (their characters are the real psychotics, the ones who really don't care about the social fabric); and second, they don't have to work so hard, with every line and image, trying to break out of normalcy. They are already irreparably abnormal.
  • (5/5)
    This book is not a pleasant read, but if you're sick of serial killer anti-heroes, this tiny novel might be for you. I know it's a tired gimmic, but in this instance the diary format is believable and works extremely well. Quentin is not an genius sociopath like Tom Ripley, or Hannibal Lecter, or Dexter Morgan. Quentin is a fuck up who he kills kids. You may not actually want him in your head.-D
  • (4/5)
    A harrowing and disturbing look at a serial killer who expresses no remorse or guilt for his crimes. Quentin is severly emotionally damaged and sexually confused. Living in a family that does not understand him, but does enable and support him, he further plunges into madness.Oates's writing can sometimes feel verbose and overlong, but I found this short novel a quick and easy read compared to other works of hers I'd read. While the subject matter is disturbing, Oates does a good job of keeping the reader's attention with her snappy prose and Quentin's narration.
  • (4/5)
    Zombie, for Quentin, is a person who succumbs wholly and wantonly to him, after he has abducted and raped them forcibly. He is a registered sex offender, gay, and a psychopath. He tries numerous times to give lobotomies to his victims, but fails. The procedure kills those who were not so lucky. He becomes angry with himself - the failure. His dad's lawyer friend is asked to come in and represent Quentin. Quentin learns how to play the game with his thereapists. They all support it and it is good exercise.Quentin's older sister, is a principal at their local middle school. She is more masquline then feminine. She is potentially a lesbian.Quentin's sexual confusion begins with trama. His father, a professor at the local college, finds magazines and male dolls in Quentin's bedroom. He conronts quentin, tells him to straighten up and move forward, successfully. "We won't tell mom about this.
  • (2/5)
    This had been on my reading list for a long time before I finally found a copy of it. I've never read anything by Joyce Carol Oates, but I came across a source listing Zombie as a disturbing book based off the life of Jeffrey Dahmer. Having read it, I have to say that I really hope this isn't a cornerstone of Oates' work because I was not impressed. I've heard Zombie described as something along the lines of, 'a shocking look into a serial killer's mentality.' I wasn't particularly shocked. The mentality of Quentin (Oates' name for her Dahmer-esque creation) is rather depthless, truth be told. He has two sides to him: the normal man he shows to the world and the heartless killer that only comes out when he's alone. Never seen that one before! Of course, this book was published in 1995 and for all I know that could have been a novel concept back then. And I wouldn't have been too bothered by it if the two sides shown were fleshed out beyond 'good' and 'evil'. I never really caught any insight into his personality other than, 'He's a serial killer. He kills people. There you go.' And I wouldn't really have had a problem with just reading about a serial killer if this book hadn't been marketed as something psychologically riveting. (The reviews seem to suggest this, as does the back of my copy which states, "Joyce Carol Oates manages to put us inside the mind of an outcast--a serial killer--and so to disturb us deeply.") Will you find it psychology riveting if you've never taken a half a second to fathom the mentality of a killer? Probably. Otherwise, no. My other complaint with this novel was the lackluster writing style. I realize it was probably written this way give insight into Quentin's mind but I just wasn't feeling it. The random capitalization and ampersands frustrated me and I never really figured out why he refers to himself as Q__ P__ and not just Quentin. It wouldn't really be an issue if I could figure out a reason as to why these things are relevant to Quentin's mindset, but I only saw it as an attempt to be innovative. The only thing that didn't bother me was the stream of conscious narration--it amplified the 'psychotic' voice. The other things, not so much. I got the feeling that Zombie was supposed to be Quentin's diary, but unless I'm mistaken--and I very well might be--the story itself never suggests that Quentin keeps any kind of record or journal. And the ending...what was up with that? The story hits what I guess was supposed to be the climax, then goes into some random exposition, and then just ends on the most obscure note possible. I honestly thought that there were pages missing from my book and I went to scour the internet for an exact page count. I do have to compliment Oates on the angle she took with Jeffrey Dahmer--I hardly ever see anyone tangle with his desire to create a zombie. It was a commendable idea, the execution just left something to be desired. So all in all, I'm not happy with my first sampling of Joyce Carol Oates. I will be trying more of her work though since I am an adamant believer that you can't judge an author based on one book. Two stars: I didn't dislike it enough to rate it a one star, and it was a fairly quick read. But I wouldn't recommend it.
  • (3/5)
    If there was ever a book that was utterly inconsistent with my image of an author, this is the one. Every photograph of Joyce Carol Oates I’ve ever seen shows a woman who appears to be quiet, composed, peaceful, at home in her skin. One would never guess that that mind could contain the killer who rampages through Zombie. This is a most unpleasant novel about a man who is obsessed with the idea of creating a perfect lover for himself, a zombie that would worship him and be his sex slave forever. How does one create a zombie? Why, by performing a lobotomy upon a normal human, of course, even if that means becoming an amateur surgeon. Quentin, despite seeming to be somewhat mentally challenged, is smart enough not to get caught as he wreaks havoc on men in his university town, his cruelty hidden by his kindness to his grandmother and parents who seem to know what he is but choose to ignore it. It is a chilling novel that, I must confess, I found much too realistic to really enjoy reading. I love a good serial murderer novel as much as the next thriller lover, but this one was too much for me, too real, it seemed; I guess I like my horror novels to be much more like fairy tales. This is well-done, well-written, well-executed; I can fault it on no grounds whatsoever except that it’s simply ugly.
  • (5/5)
    Americans seem to be fascinated with psychopaths. They're all over the movies and TV, and when real psychopaths make the news, it's a big story. For me, part of this fascination is in wondering just how these people who are so different from me see the world. I can't imagine what their inner life is like or what brings about such an alien world. In Zombie, Joyce Carol Oates managed to get inside the head of a psychopath and drag us along, and it astounds me that she could do this with such authenticity. Everything about the book evokes the sense of the truly foreign and inhuman.I didn't enjoy Zombie. It's hard for me to imagine how someone could enjoy it in the sense that one could enjoy a great action thriller or fantasy book - the character and the point of view are just plain disturbing. But I couldn't put it down. The writing and the storytelling was that good. Would I read it again? Maybe, but it'll be a bit. Would I recommend it to others? Depends. If someone wants to look into the mind of a psychotic killer, this is a great way to go. But only with full disclosure!
  • (4/5)
    Quentin P, the child of a professional middle class family has some secrets that he keeps in his basement, in his bathroom, in his car and from his parents, from his grandmother, from his court appointed counselor and from society.Joyce Carol Oates takes us on a ride with Quentin to a place called sociopathic madness. To Quentin, his victims are simply there as tools of experimentation -- to turn into zombies (play toys that will do just exactly what he commands.) Quentin (perhaps in real life Jeffrey Dahmer?) lacks remorse and the prize we hold so dearly called a conscience. Joyce Carol Oates journeys inside the mind of a mad man who, while feeling very much of an outsider in society, also learns the game of how to manipulate that which he does not feel a part of, in order to serve his savage cravings.
  • (4/5)
    A scary look into the mind of a serial killer. Although this book was disturbing to read, I devoured it. I didn't realize until after I finished it and read other reviews that it was based on the life of Dahmer. If I had known that, I might not have ever picked it up. However, it was eye-opening and will stick with me for years now.
  • (4/5)
    Easily the most disturbing book I've ever read. A first person account of a serial killer/sexual predator who shows no remorse at all. Before I read the book, I thought the title referred to the narrator and killer, you know, like a mindless killing zombie type of person. But what it actually refers to is so much more disturbing and gut-wrenching.Based on Jeffrey Dahmer.