“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 dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R but also his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.”
Warm Bodies is a book about zombies. For some reason, someone thought it was a good idea to ask me to write a review about the book. That was a few weeks prior to the book’s release, I think. Or maybe it was just a week. Sadly, because of logistical reasons, we determined that it wouldn’t be possible for me to receive an advanced copy to read and then write about. But the contact had been made—and I was already intrigued.
When the book eventually came out and I saw a copy of it at a local bookstore, I decided to pick it up. Book-blogging friends have heard (or read, as the case might be) nice things about the book, and they said as much. So as soon as I wasn’t drowning in work, I started to read.
A few hours later, I finish reading. And now I’m here to tell you, I love Warm Bodies.
If that’s not an effusive enough declaration of love for you, here’s a wordier version:
Warm Bodies, like Rot & Ruin, brings another game-changer to the world of zombie fiction. If Rot & Ruin emphasizes the human past of zombies, Warm Bodies takes it up a notch higher—and makes zombies humane.
R, our main character, has been a zombie for quite some time when we meet him. He doesn’t know for how long, and we don’t really get a clue as to when the events of the novel do happen. But it doesn’t matter. Time doesn’t matter for a zombie. That is, until he meets Julie, our female protagonist. And then, things change for R.
The pace of the book’s story-telling is reliant on R’s thought-process. Things are laconic as R sets up his world for us, while we grasp at this new world we’re being introduced to. And as soon as he meets Julie, things become more effusive. There doesn’t seem to be enough words to describe the wonderment of Julie. And it seems just right for this to happen, as R and Julie’s meeting is the catalyst that triggers the change sweeping through the novel’s world.
Isaac Marion, the author, gives a new twist to the mythology for zombies. A little bit. Like in Rot & Ruin, anyone who dies is instantly turned into a zombie, and no one knows what caused this to happen; but while Rot & Ruin maintained the rest of the mainstream zombie beliefs: that zombies are driven by their hunger for human flesh, and that they don’t think—much, Warm Bodies give it an all-important twist. Those with a brain intact can produce thought. And there are worse things than zombies—the Boneys.
This, I think, is the first time I’ve encountered a sort-of caste system for zombies. But then again, is there any twist bigger than the novel’s premise: a zombie that thinks! It’s a very novel concept, one that can be stretched through many books—which, I’m happy to say, it doesn’t. Though, I also have to add that I did worry how the author was going to wrap up the story with only a few pages remaining.
I think he did well. The ending wasn’t perfect—but it wasn’t a disappointment. Everything was pretty much set-up from the very beginning. And while I did say I’m happy that the story ended here, I wouldn’t mind taking another visit to this universe if the author does decide to set another story in this very different post-apocalyptic world—where zombies think, and feel, and love.
Warm Bodies (hardcover) is available at Fully Booked for PhP999. I’ve yet to see a copy in National Bookstore or Powerbooks.