Sunday, July 21, 2013

Review: "Zombie" by Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates’ Zombie is a very hard book to read, despite being another short novel, not even 200 pages and plenty of chapter stops. I’ve got to say; this is a surprising book to be written by a woman. It has a vicious and clinical nature that leaves the reader feeling cold and distant to what is happening. It is a thinly veiled fictional account of the last few days in the life of serial killer Jeffery Dahmer before he was arrested. Most of what Oates writes is fictional speculation about what might have gone on in the mind of Dahmer when killing young men became an all-encompassing obsession for him. While well written and effective, I am not too interested in hearing about someone like this put on display in a book simply as a monster or boogeyman, especially after reading Derf Backderf’s non-fictional memoir My Friend Dahmer, about his experiences growing up with Dahmer in middle and high school. It presents a new kind of look into the mind of a future serial killer, one that doesn’t promote empathy as much as pity, and the need for people to recognize and speak out when they witness aberrant behavior in an individual. In that book he is not a fairy tale creature, but the weird, lonely kid in high school who will never fit in, no matter how hard they try. And it is not scary, but kind of sad, but I digress. Oates’ novel focuses on one man named Quentin, and the relationship he has with his family, whom he manipulates without remorse, and his obsession with having a young male sex slave, a “zombie”, who will provide him with every need. There is little plot expect for a man he is interested in, who he calls SQUIRELL, which leads to his eventual capture and revelation of his dark side to the world, including his hurt family. This is a book that gets under your skin, and will turn off some readers, for sure. But a conventional, yet highly effective look into the dark side interests you, this book will reward you.
Rating: 4/5

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