Thursday, April 7, 2011
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
R is a young man with an existential crisis--he is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. His ability to connect with the outside world is limited to a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing.
After experiencing a teenage boy's memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and stragely 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 choice 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 explores what happens when the cold heart of a zombie is tempted by the warmth of human love. (Picture from Good Reads, Summary from Amazon)
I am a zombie virgin. Well, I was. I had never read a zombie book before Warm Bodies was sent to me by Regal Literary free of charge for review. This is the ARC that I'm reviewing. And of course, this in no way influenced my review of Warm Bodies. That being said, I loved my first zombie book! It was a really sweet love story, full of philosophical questions about life, a glimpse into a not so unrealistic future and it was a well written adventure.
"R" is a zombie with a lot of questions and no answers. He's like an amnesiac living in a world surrounded by other amnesiacs except for the fact that "R" wants to know who and why and how and what now and is there more while the rest of the amnesiacs are content to sit for days on end staring or standing or sitting. Right from the start we know that "R" is different. He's disgusted by his hunger and the way he has to feed himself, but accepts it as inevitable. But he still stands out from the crowd, sitting in cars trying to remember how to drive, playing records, trying to talk, get people to tell them their names. He is appalled at their feeding habits, stopping to wash the blood of the dead from him in a puddle on the street. Issac Marion writes so eloquently "There is a chasm between me and the world outside of me. A gap so wide my feelings can't cross it. By the time my screams reach the other side, they have dwindled into groans." (p.8) The entire story is written from "R's" point of view, told mostly in his mind as he's a zombie of few words.
Julie is the other main character in this story. She lives in the stadium where all the protected people live, safe from the zombies unless they venture out. There is a little bit of farming going on inside, but most of their nutrition is gotten through pills as the food produced is not enough to sustain everyone living inside the stadium. The seats have been taken out so that houses have been made and there is a city living within the stadium. People are still having children, teenagers are still falling in love and some people are still hoping for a cure to the plague or curse or whatever it was that caused the zombies. Julie's outlook on the zombie situation is a little different than her military father's. He has become so single minded on winning that he's lost all sight of what's important, living instead of killing. Julie doesn't blame the zombies for eating people. She knows it's what they have to do to survive. Even when her boyfriend is killed, she's not upset at the zombies.
But when Julie and "R" meet and talk and begin to know each other (not in the biblical sense) "R" starts to change. He begins to feel more human. He wants to protect her. Please her. All the things, a boyfriend would do for his girlfriend. And the more time he spends with her, the less zombie like he becomes. He can string words together to form sentences. He searches out food for her when she's hungry. She teaches him to drive. All the while, he doesn't feel the desire to eat her brains. Or eat anyone. From this point on the story goes really fast, and yes, I will say, "R's" character does indeed go through major character growth. Julie's does as well. They get into trouble and out and in again and I don't mean missing curfew I mean scary trouble. Imagine, the world is dead. All the houses in all the neighborhoods are empty. There is a great chance of either being attacked by zombies or people for both of them. When she's in his world, at least they are a little slow, but if he's in her world, there's no disguising him and very few ways of getting out.
Issac Marion paints a bleak future of the world to come. I am not saying that I believe in zombies, but what if in all our building and oil drilling and bombing and deforestation and killing off of the rain forests we uncovered something that should never have been uncovered. An organism that when released in the air spreads some kind of plague. We already have a flesh eating bacteria. It doesn't take much to stretch my imagination to believe in the world spread out before me in Warm Bodies. It's not that complicated. It's our world today, only a lot fewer people surviving in it.
The ending was satisfying, yet I wanted more. I wanted to see what the rest of the world looked like and what "R" and Julie's place in the world might be. Though I feel like the ending was conclusive, if Isaac Marion wanted to, this could definitely be a series. It would have a different spin on the next book, but it would be interesting to see what happens next.
There was a little talk about sex, but it was minor. Today's music is more explicit than this was, so anyone 13 and up should be comfortable reading this book. If you're squeamish, there is talk about eating brains and blood and all the messy stuff that goes with that. So you know, but you should expect that with a zombie book, I'd think.
I definitely enjoyed this book. I don't relate to zombies, but "R" had some good thoughts and he was extremely likable even for a zombie. I'd read another book about zombies by Isaac Marion just because it wasn't what I expected at all. It wasn't about killing and power and control. It really was a love story between two very different characters and having hope when you think there isn't any to be had.
Heather in Sandwich
Update- Warm Bodies is being made into a movie. The character of R has already been chosen. According to the author's blog. http://burningbuilding.blogspot.com/2011/03/warm-bodies-first-cast-member-not-april.html The cute little boy from About a Boy has grown up into a Cute Boy and he's been cast as R! Now read the novel with him in mind. It's even better!