WARM BODIES by Isaac Marion
Synopsis: R is a young man with an existential crisis—he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams.
|Review copy purchased at Barnes & Noble.|
After experiencing a teenage boy's memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and strangely sweet relationship with the victim's human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.
Scary, funny, and surprisingly poignant, Warm Bodies is about being alive, being dead, and the blurry line in between.
First lines: "I am dead, but it's not so bad. I've learned to live with it."
J's Thoughts: I have a few criteria for picking up books in a store: 1) eye-catching cover art, 2) intriguing cover copy, 3) a killer first line. WARM BODIES has all three. Add an author bio sporting the phrase "first novel" and a tag line reading "Soon to be a major motion picture," and I was sold.
It's no secret that zombies are low on my dark fantasy/horror list of favorite creatures. In fact, they're number two on my list of Irrational Fears. (Spiders and bad weather tie for the number one spot.) Even though WARM BODIES seduced me by meeting my bookstore criteria, I was sceptical that I'd enjoy -- much less identify with -- a first person zombie story. However, Isaac Marion proved me wrong because I loved every page.
R is a completely sympathetic character. Zombies are normally portrayed as mindless brutes hellbent on their own survival. But Marion shows the "life" of zombies outside the hunt for brains. When not riding the escalators or hanging out with his best friend M, R tries not to draw the attention of the Boneys, skeletal beings who sit firmly at the top of the Undead food chain. Unfortunately for R, he's in the middle of an mid-death crisis that only worsens when he meets Julie.
Julie, a Living girl, fascinates R and he fascinates her. They soon develop a unique relationship that's centered around brains. Julie, however, doesn't know that the brain in question is that of her former boyfriend, Perry. The mystery surrounding R's difference, and what it means, only deepens as he and Julie grow closer and struggle to find their way in a world ravaged by war and social decline.
Filled with humor, action, and thought-provoking narrative, WARM BODIES is only the second zombie book to find its way to my Keeper Shelf. (The first is PATIENT ZERO by Jonathan Maberry.) I loved the dark humor. I loved R's questioning but laid back nature. I loved Julie's free spirit and determination. But mostly I loved that this wasn't your average zombie book. Marion adds his own spin on the genre and does it with a lot of style. One particular bit of flair I enjoyed was the use to old medical diagrams for chapter headings instead of numbers. It's a small thing but it was a touch I found especially interesting.
If you're looking for a good read and a new twist to zombies, definitely check out WARM BODIES.
Join me next week when I interview Diana Rowland, author of the Kara Gillian and the White Trash Zombies series. Until then...