Published 2010 239 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
'R' is a zombie. He has no name, no memories, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.
Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows - warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can't understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins.
This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won't be changed without a fight...
This book’s beautifully subtle cover made me pick it up, the description and the enthusiastic cover quotes from bestselling authors made me crack open the covers but a well conceived marketing strategy will only take a book so far. Reading the first page convinced me that I just had to know more about “R”. Book purchase swiftly followed.
Warm Bodies is Isaac Marion’s debut novel. It is a story of a post-everything world where the surviving stragglers of living humans share what’s left of the planet with the hungry dead. This is a zombie novel (there are no vampires and certainly no other kinds of supernatural beings in this world – just a grim rotting reality) yet it is far from the normal end-of-the-world shoot ’em up that is the usual zombie movie or book treatment. For starters the narrator and protagonist of the story, R, is a flesh eating zombie but actually he’s quite a likeable fellow – honestly, it’s hard to hold the killing and brain eating against him. While he is outwardly limited to monosyllabic speech and groaning, inside his mind there is wit and poetry. He strives to be more than just a flesh obsessed monster and the event that acts as catalyst for this change is his falling in love with Julie, a Living girl.
Once Julie and R’s living and dead worlds have collided readers are left with an unlikely forbidden love storyline set against a typical backdrop of issues and factions that would keep them apart. Warm Bodies doesn’t read like a romance novel, this isn’t Twilight with zombies, Julie and R don’t share an intense passion – it’s rather more like a sweet and hesitant friendship that blossoms into a deeper feeling. While their relationship is the reason for the story it isn’t solely what the story is about. There are the actions and feelings of the living characters, some of whom just wish for death. There are the different zombie factions, those who are evolving and those who want to keep the world a dead place. There are plenty of potential allegories in this story and how a reader approaches the novel will probably effect what message they take away from the book.
Warm Bodies is an ambitious work. It reads like it was aiming for classic sci-fi /fantasy territory where the original and literary meld to make memorable classic genre novels but with so many different ways to read the story it’s hard to know whether this was intentional or not. Only time will tell whether this book achieves classic status but it’s certainly an impressive first novel however you approach the story. Written with stunning originality and constructed with thought provoking prose, Warm Bodies is a highly readable, if most unusual, zombie novel.
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