Book Reviews

Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates – Book Review

Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates – Book Review open in tablet

Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))

Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates – Book Details

TITLE – Zombie

AUTHOR – Joyce Carol Oates

GENREhorror, thriller, crime, dark

YEAR PUBLISHED – 1995

PAGE COUNT – 192

MY RATING – 2.5 of 5

RATED ON GOODREADS – 3.34 of 5

Initial Thoughts

I am one of those obsessive people who reads the back of anything. From snacks and skincare ingredients to book blurbs – if there are words, I’m going to read it before deciding if I am going to invest my time and money into it.

But with such short books as Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates, I feel like – if I read the blurb, I read the whole thing. So I picked this one up sometime in the beginning of October without knowing what it is about.

I figured it was going to be a perfect choice for the Halloween time. Mostly because the title said Zombie, so I was expecting it to be about… oh, I don’t know – zombies?! Like – real zombies?!

(And when I say real, I mean… you know.)

Tough luck. Turned out – zombies would have been quite a cozy and comforting read compared to this one…

This book was one the most horrifying experiences of my life. At around half point I had to stop. Which never happened before. No book has ever upset me so much that I had to put it down, until this one. So I picked up another book, wondering if I should even try to finish Zombie or it would be better to just permanently DNF it.

I did pick it back up after a while. But I was only reading 2 – 3 pages a day, so it took me a larger part of October to finish the darn thing…

What It Is About

A book quote form Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates: “I could EAT YOUR HEART & asshole you'd never know it.”

The book Zombie is told through the perspective of Quentin P, a newly paroled sex offender who progresses to becoming a serial killer.

Quentin is seeing his parole officer once in two weeks. Visiting his psychiatrist once a week. He’s trying to keep the relationship with his family under control, just enough so that they get off his back.

He could be anyone, lurking not in the shadow, but in the broad daylight. Going practically completely unnoticed until it is too late.

And he has just picked his next victim…

Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates – My Review

This book is not for the faint of heart nor for anyone who has problems with reading about very graphic and particularly disgusting violence. I thought – well, I went through the whole GOT without a flinch, I’m ready for this. I was not.

This book is brutally disturbing. It made me sick more times than I can count.

Quentin is a psychopath and a serial killer. He’s killed before. And he’s about to do it again. There are many graphic descriptions of what he’s done to his previous victims. And all of that is spiced up with his daydreaming while choosing the next one.

The main character is 100% sociopath. There’s nothing good, nothing human or kind about him. You cannot relate, you can’t even feel sorry for him. Which is understandable, of course. It is how it’s supposed to be. But it also made this book completely unrelatable and unenjoyable.

Quentin’s sexual arousal was also given a lot of space. And – man, that was hard to read. Not only because some scenes were too graphic, but his triggers were very… unsettling.

Everything is given in so many details. And I am usually not overly sensitive to body horror, but man – if I could only forget some parts!

Plus, body horror is not my favorite kind of horror. I like suspense. Slow building tension. Mystery and untrustworthy ambience. The unsettling atmosphere…

This was just one gross, horrifying scene after another. Effective. But not enjoyable.

What I did like was the specific writing style – focused on conveying the message and following his train of thoughts rather than respecting the grammar. I actually liked that quite a bit – it made the book easier and faster to go through.

For the execution of what it meant to do, I’d give this book between 4 and 5 stars. For the level of enjoyment and possibility of me ever rereading it – it’s 1 star. So I gave it 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 overall.

I feel like – if I’m going to judge this author’s work by how well she carried out her intention, then – all congrats, I salute you. But then – her intention was to make me feel sick, disturbed and incredibly uncomfortable. So don’t mind me feeling a bit torn about just how successful she was at that.

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(2) Comments

  1. I love JCO! I haven’t read this one but I was planning to look for something new to read this weekend and I think this might be the one. Thank you so very much for sharing!

    1. ❤️️ Hey, if you love her writing, then this one will be perfect for this Saturday, when is the Halloween! 👻🎃🦇🦉🕸️

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