Monday, October 15, 2012

Review: Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies
by Isaac Marion (Website | Facebook | Twitter)
Series: Standalone
Published: April 26th, 2011 by Atria
Pages: 241 (Paperback)
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Borrowed from library
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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.

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.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion is not your typical zombie story; it’s from the point of view of R, a zombie with a surprising amount of intellect. Much like how some vampires are shown to hate their existence as such, R hates being a zombie, as much as his stunted emotions allow him too. Throughout the novel R shows a surprising amount of depth for a guy who eats brains.

The world of Warm Bodies is much like that of most zombie fare, the world is overrun by zombies and the humans live only in small enclaves. What makes Warm Bodies standout is the way that it shows this world from a zombie’s point of view. The world of the zombies is as interesting and complex as the world of the humans. There are schools where the zombie kids learn how to be proper zombies, there are marriages between the zombies, and most importantly they can talk, not well and not quickly but they can. All of this is presided over by the Boneys, those zombies who are nothing but skin and bones, their muscles having long ago faded away. Marion builds this world up through the eyes of R and creates a world where I actually felt sympathetic for the zombies, who just seemed like they were trying to make the best of a bad situation.

The characters do show a decent amount of depth, especially R. R starts the novel disaffected by the zombie lifestyle but going along with it because it’s all he has. Over time however he begins to long for more and sets out to get what he wants, something that no zombie has ever done before. Julie is fairly typical of humans in a zombie novel, at least at first, with her fear of R and the other zombies. Over time however Julie lets go of her prejudices and realizes that despite the fact that his heart doesn’t beat, and he might smell a bit funny, R is really a good person. These characters are wonderfully brought to life, or unlife as it were, by Marion, who uses witty dialogue and constant insight into R’s mind to show how these characters learn to live with one another.

Overall Warm Bodies is witty and entertaining. And even if the ending was cheesy it was cheesy in the best possible way. I really loved the characters, and the world was built awesomely. The idea of having the story from a disenfranchised zombie’s point of view is brilliant and I’m really excited to see how they make it into a movie next year. If I had to describe the book in one sentence, it would be that it’s a zombie book with a lot of heart, and just a little bit of brains. ;]

Rating: 5/5 stars
It was so good. So. So. Good.

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