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...Almost any one of them would be a suitable specimen for a ZOMBIE. Except: you would want a healthy young person, male. Of a certain height, weight and body build etc. You would want somebody with "fight" and "vigor" in him. And well hung.
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Zombie is a horror novel by Joyce Carol Oates. Inspired by some aspects of the Jeffrey Dahmer case, Zombie tells the story of Quentin P. A socially awkward, sexually depraved serial killer. His goal throughout the book is to successfully create a mindless male sex slave, or "zombie". After researching lobotomy at the library, he tries it out on a few unlucky men, but he botches it each time, killing them. He becomes determined to get it right when he spots a teenage boy he nicknames "Squirrel". He is sure he will make the perfect sex slave and spends several weeks stalking him, planning his capture and preparing his home for the boys arrival.

The narrative is somewhat sporadic, jumping around in time and thought, giving the reader a window into the inner workings of the main characters mind.

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Tropes:

  • Anti-Hero: Quentin, big time.
  • Accidental Murder: Quentin never intended to kill any of his victims. What he wants is to turn them into mindless "sex zombies". It's his limited medical knowledge that kills them.
  • Arc Words: " A true ZOMBIE would be mine forever. He would obey every command and whim. Saying "Yes, Master" and "No, Master." He would kneel before me lifting his eyes to me saying, "I love you, Master. There is no one but you, Master." A ZOMBIE would pass no judgment. A ZOMBIE would say "God bless you, Master." He would say "You are good, Master. You are kind and merciful." He would say, "Fuck me in the ass, Master, until I bleed blue guts." "
    • Also; "How things play out."
  • The Alcoholic: Quentin.
  • Abusive Parents: Quentin's dad. When his son was seventeen he found a "Body Builders" magazine among Quentin's things. He told his son it was "sick and disgusting" and forced Quentin to burn it.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Quentin masturbates a lot.
  • Bound and Gagged: Quentin binds Squirrel's arms and legs, and covers his mouth with duck tape. He keeps him in the back of his van like this for several hours as he decides how to get him back to his apartment.
  • Blind Obedience: What Quentin wants in a romantic partner.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Quentin's question about vocal chords. Also, his dream about baby chicks.
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  • College Is "High School, Part 2": Dale Tech College has certain cliques. Quentin usually eats lunch alone.
  • Cure Your Gays: Quentin's dad attempted to stamp out his sons homosexuality as a teenager.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Quentin keeps items of his victims. Clothing, or other personal items that may have made them stand out to him. Notably, the elastic from Squirrel's hair since he had found the little ponytail he wore in the back cute.
    • It's implied that the souvenir taken from BIGGUY is in fact his penis.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Quentin towards Squirrel. He gets extremely angry he would dare pay attention to a couple of teenage girls and not him.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Quentin, of course. His crimes are entirely motivated by sexual satisfaction.
  • Date Rape: At the start of the story Quentin is trying to get back on his feet after having been charged with drugging and molesting a teenage boy.
  • Death of Personality: Quentin experiments with altering his victims brains to render them entirely obedient and compliant. He describes his ideal zombie as having "dead eyes with nothing behind them".
  • Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest: When Quentin spots Squirrel through his grandma's hedges, he remarks that it is as if Barry has been returned to him.
  • Downer Ending: Quentin briefly contemplates letting Squirrel go. He decides against it, instead getting into the back of the van he confesses his "love" for him. He notes however that after the beating the kid endured from the kidnapping, he is not as attractive as he once was. Squirrel's flaccid penis as well as his resistance to Quentin's touch enrages him. Quentin violently rapes Squirrel while pounding his head into the ground which kills him. Quentin is questioned by police but no evidence is ever found linking him to Squirrel and he gets off scott-free once again.
  • Ephebophile
  • Freudian Excuse: As a teenager Quentin saw his crush, Barry, drown in a swimming pool. This is partially the reason for his obsession with finding/creating a partner who will never leave him.
  • Gay Guy Seeks Popular Jock: As a teenager Quentin was in love with a jock at school named Barry. He even kept one of the boys socks to masturbate with. Now as an adult he creepily relives this with Squirrel. A teenage boy he spots in his grandma's neighbours swimming pool.
  • Gang of Bullies: When Quentin was in high school he was teased with the chant; "QUEER QUEER, QUENTIN'S QUEER".
  • Go-to Alias: Todd Cuttler.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Squirrel. Partially why Quentin becomes obsessed with him. Though his flirtation with a group of girls his age enrages Quentin, making him all the more eager to lobotomize the boy.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Quentin's fantasies of Squirrel involve him living happily as a mindless, obedient slave.
  • I Want Grandkids: Quentin's grandma annoys him by telling him she would die happy if she had great grandchildren. Unfortunately for her, her grandkids are an unmarried career woman and an introverted gay serial killer.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Basically how Quentin's interactions with Squirrel go once he has him in his van.
  • Living Doll Collector: Quentin's aspiration. But his experiments unintentionally kill his victims.
  • Loners Are Freaks
  • Lobotomy
  • Lust Object: Squirrel to Quentin.
  • No Name Given: Quentin's victims are only referred to by the nicknames he gives them.
  • Nerd Glasses
  • The Peeping Tom: Quentin spies on Squirrel from his grandma's yard when he goes swimming in his friends pool, liking the way the boy "teases" him.
  • The Nicknamer: Quentin gives his victims his own names. (Even after finding out Squirrels real name, he decides it doesn't suite him as much.) Some of these include Bunnygloves, Raisineyes, Big Guy and Squirrel. (Always written in ALL CAPS.)
  • Police are Useless: Quentin is never caught or even suspected by police for his murders. Mostly because he chooses victims on the outskirts of society. His only victim to be reported missing is Squirrel, a suburban teenager. Even then though, the cops fail to even come close to solving his disappearance.
  • Purity Personified: How Quentin views Squirrel (sometimes). He wants to turn this 'angel' into his 'zombie.' Though at one point he ramarks "No! He is too beautiful for Q.P. to touch!"
  • Racist Grandma: Quentin's grandma hates Germans.
  • Serial Killer
  • Serial Rapist
  • Sex Slave: What Quentin wants to create.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Quentin becomes infatuated with a teenage busboy. He stalks him, learns his routine and plans his kidnap over the course of several weeks.
    • "I love you, I want you, I would die for you, you are so terrific why the fuck won't you look at me? Smile at me?"
  • The Woobie: Squirrel.
  • Tears of Fear: Squirrel when kidnapped and tormented by Quentin.
  • Unconventional Formatting: The book makes use of CAPS LOCK for certain emphasis' in Quentin's inner monologue.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: Quentin promises Squirrel he won't hurt him if he doesn't fight him. However, Quentin grows angry with Squirrel for resisting his touches, being unable to get an erection and "looking ugly" with his bloody nose. In a rage he rapes Squirrel, while violently banging his face against the floor of the car, killing him.
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