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WARM BODIES (Warm Bodies, #1)

Author: Isaac Marion
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Genre: Horror
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.

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