Author: Isaac Marion
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Format: EBook, Print
Publisher: Atria Books
On Sale Date: October 28, 2010
Recommended Reading: 17+
****THERE ARE NO SPOILERS****
SYNOPSIS: 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.
Scary, funny, and surprisingly poignant, Warm Bodies is about being alive, being dead, and the blurry line in between.
THE GIST: Warm Bodies is one of those stories that can only be pulled off once. No one will be able to ride its coattails or come up with a knock off (hopefully no one will try). In my opinion, you just can’t recreate it—it’s one of a kind. I don’t read a lot of male authors, nor male protagonists, but this one was refreshing and funny, and I greatly enjoyed how well written and clever it was. The story was really great, and the romance was sweet. Apart from the pace being a little slow in places, this was a very charming and entertaining read.
BREAKDOWN: This book has been on my radar for a while, but honestly, I’ve been avoiding it because the idea of a zombie love story is ridiculous, right? I’m a huge fan of zombies—I love zombie movies and The Walking Dead on AMC is one of my all time favorite shows. Being the fan that I am, I just thought there’s no way a book can capture what I love about zombie films, so I’ve avoided these types of books. I even tried one once and hated it, so gave up on the whole notion.
But this book kept getting all kinds of buzz, so I threw it on my ‘to-read’ list and went on with my life… until I found out they were making a movie. The preview reminded me of Zombieland, a favorite of mine. It looked awesome and funny, so I thought, “Now’s the time—I’m gonna read this book.” (I have a horrible habit of doing this by the way, not reading the book until I see the previews for the movie).
Right off the bat, the book was not what I expected. I blame the previews, based on which I assumed Warm Bodies was young adult. In the book, R and Julie are in their twenties, and R sports a suit, not the t-shirt and hoodie from the film trailer. Also, the book has sexual content, albeit mostly in R’s inner dialogue and a few comical scenes with R’s buddy M. The book’s written by a man, and the lead character is male, so you can guess as to the types of things that randomly go through R’s brain. Yes, the book is very male. But it’s also very sweet, and funny, and charming. It is not, however, appropriate for teens.
When we’re introduced to R, his inner dialogue is bleak, but so clever and funny. “It disquieted me at first, but it’s against etiquette to notice when one of us dies. I distracted myself with some groaning.” That was my favorite line in the book. There’s always the suspension of disbelief when it comes to zombies, but even within that, we still have ideas about what zombies are, so the author, Marion, has to earn our trust a little to get us to buy into this idea that zombies have thoughts and even attempt conversations with one another. Zombies can talk? What?!
After a chapter or two, however, you like this character so much, you just buy in. You tell yourself, okay, zombies can talk. And this character, R… you really root for him. How can a person who’s barely a person be so stinkin’ cute? And charming? Somehow, he just is. When he struggles to speak, you’re just as eager as he is for him to spit the words out, to say what he means. “I long for exclamation marks, but I’m drowning in ellipses.” Heartbreaking!
In the first half of the book, I struggled with the likability of the character Julie, but the more I got to know her, the better I understood why she was so special to R. For the most part, she grew on me. As for pace, the book lagged in the middle, which is unfortunate because it’s not a long book and I was expecting a quick read. Once things picked up toward the third act, it kept its pace and the action carried the rest of the book quite nicely.
The writing is excellent. I liked the story a lot, and I especially enjoyed R. I sympathized with the whole situation, and I thought the love story was really sweet. Overall, the characters were grittier than I was expecting, and that’s my bad for expecting anything based on movie previews. Despite any of that, it’s still one of the most clever things I’ve read, and it was fun and entertaining. At the end of the day, entertainment is what I’m looking for, so mission accomplished. This book has pulled me over to the zombie book dark side, so I look forward to reading more zombie novels, and for that, Isaac Marion, I thank you.
For a zombie novel, this was actually strangely refreshing! Since the Walking Dead has premiered, I’ve had my face buried in zombie novels. Warm Bodies was my first zombie novel that had an ending that satisfied me. I understand that it’s the end of the world and there are zombies running about and we’re probably not going to get a happily ever after – but that’s really not what I’m looking for either. I just want an ending! So many zombie novels I’ve read have taken what feels like a short cut by just sort of … ending abruptly. And then calling it just a quirk of the genre.
Warm Bodies finally turns that around. You get an ending. Not a happily ever after, but it’s an ending. Definitely a book I’d love to read the sequel for!
Warm Bodies is told from the viewpoint of a zombie – making this a fascinating read as “R” struggles to remember just who he is and what made him this way and if there could be anything left in the world that might matter more to him than ripping through human flesh. This is not a book for the squeamish – it’s pretty detailed and descriptive. Definitely gave me some very vivid mental images!
I generally approached zombie ‘romance’ with a slightly hesitant fear. There are the obvious problems of being dead, and all the strange smells and maladies that must come along with that. It’s difficult to really get invested in a story revolving around them. And yet, Warm Bodies somehow still made this romance sweet, without making me feel squeamish.
The premise that maybe there are more to zombies than we can see on the outside was especially interesting to read. Sure, they’re all moaning and funky smells on the outside, but does that unequivocally prove that there’s nothing else going on inside? What if they are simply trapped by their own disease?
Overall, I tore through this book. I haven’t read a book this fast in months – because I just had to know what would happen next. As we all know, there’s also a movie adaptation that came out this year, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the movie! I didn’t really see how such a unique style narrative would translate well onto film, but I thought it did a great job and was true to the novel as much as it could be.
R is in a constant struggle with himself, with reality, with the living. R is a zombie. Yet, there is something different and miraculous about him. As R struggles on his journey of change, Julie is the only life line R has. Julie, the girl he has sworn to protect, may be R’s only redemption in a world of loss, chaos, and tragedy.
I LOVED the concept of reading from a zombies perspective. I felt so distraught for R. He was just so lovable and relatable. He wanted what everyone wants out of life….. a purpose. R cannot remember his past nor his name. He is struggling to maintain a small semblance of humanity, which he actually finds while eating the brain of a young man named Perry Kelvin.
Reliving Perry’s memories is what makes R return to his humanly ways. He finds himself eager to live and actually return to the living. I found myself rooting for R along the way. Although I was on the fence about how closely the zombies pried in the memories of their kills, I could understand how the sensation of feeling alive could tempt even the strongest saint. I was still unsure about R’s feelings for Julie. I was skeptical to embrace the fact that they could be considered his own since he was reliving Perry’s memories; I felt it was a borrowed feeling that did not rightfully belong to him. I did find R’s feeling for her sweet because as I read further I realized that Perry had ultimately pushed her away while dealing with his own internal struggle. She was the one thing that kept him going.
Julie and I share a similar personality. I bonded instantly with her character. We are both open minded, opinionated, and have foul mouths. I was a little thrown off though by how calm and collective she and a couple of others took this all in. I am sure I would not have reacted the same given the opportunity. Fear is our biggest weakness and I found myself intrigued that through it all Julie pushed her fears to the side and embraced the differences in the world around her. I loved there growing friendship and attraction to one another. I felt that her hard love was exactly what R needed to push him to become the change in the world.
OMG LETS TALK ABOUT THE COMICAL SIDES OF THIS STORY! I found myself chuckling on many occasions in this book (ok more like laughing out loud and looking a fool the majority of the time (:!). The way that R talked about the zombies standing around and groaning all day cracked me up. Could you imagine viewing this as a bystander who was fully aware of how awkward this was? I honestly could not stop laughing when R described his zombie “wife” having “sex” with her lover. It was just too much! The picture I conjured up was just slap on the knee, tears streaming down your face hilarious. Marion definitely had me LMAO a couple of times!
The only reason I felt that this book did not deserve a wonderful 5 star rating was the ending. As fantastical as it was, I found myself unsure of how I felt about the end. I was ecstatic that R got his happily ever after, but at the same time…. this is a zombie story and people do not just miraculously jump up and say, “opppps sorry about being a walking dead cannibal for a while but no fear I am human again because I believed”. I was really pleased that it was a different concept than we have seen in other zombie stories. So see I am straddling the fence on how I feel about this end… I would definitely say get out and read this book. It has just what you need to make it a great read: romance, humor, gore, tragedy, and zombies!