At first, I must admit I was hesitant to read Warm Bodies, the debut novel from Isaac Marion. Not because it was his first book. Not even because of what I had heard about the book. To be honest, I hadn’t really heard much about it before I sat down to read it other than what it said on the back cover. Well, that and my sister telling me that they were making a movie with Nicholas Hoult in it and that he was hot. That was pretty much as much information as I had going into this book.
No, the real reason I was hesitant was because of the narration.
The main character in this book is R, a sentient zombie who doesn’t remember any more of his past life than that first sound in his old name. He is the narrator. You see the world how he sees it, you experience the book as he experiences it. And I wasn’t quite sure I was going to enjoy that, the whole ‘zombie romance’ thing aside. See, there are some things that I just don’t want to understand in fiction. Zombies are often times one of them. When people start trying to explain how zombies work or how outbreaks start then it starts becoming less fun for me. I like the human interactions, the stories of survival, adversity against all odds… call me something of a romantic or a classicalist but when it comes to zombies I want them to eat people and I want people to shoot them in the head. No questions asked. It’s the same reason I refuse to read any books in the Hannibal Lecter series besides Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs. Hannibal Lecter is terrifying; he is an amazing supporting character. But when you start trying to explain him that’s when you start ruining that perfectly terrifying image of him. All I need to know is that he’s terrifying, he seems oddly in control, and if he comes after me I’m screwed.
Anyway, on to the actual book review.
Warm Bodies surprised me. It was a pretty decent read. And it was a rather unique way of telling a story about the zombie apocalypse. The author didn’t try to explain too much – R doesn’t know a whole lot about himself at all or why he and the other zombies do the sort of things they do. Or, most importantly, why R is different. Why he is changing. And why some of his friends are doing the same. Unlike other zombies, R isn’t just a mindless drone. He can be and hunger sometimes drives him closer to our traditional view of a zombie. Her certainly doesn’t allow his unusual feelings and sentiments for the past stop him from munching down on unsuspecting human survivors.
But he is different.
And that is never more highlighted than when he meets Julie. After he eats her boyfriend’s brains (oops) he finds himself drawn to her, protecting her from his fellow zombies and eventually helping her find her way home. Together they try to unravel not only what is so different about R but what it could mean for the rest of the world as well. The last survivors of mankind are slowly but surely deteriorating – mentally, emotionally, and physically – and this zombie who can not only talk but feel could finally signal some reason for hope.
You might be skeptical about the idea of a zombie romance novel. Believe me, I was, too. And even towards the end of the book you’ve got to wonder how exactly the resolutions are going to play out. But it’s certainly worth a read and you should give it a shot before the move is released sometime in 2013.
Final Grade: B