For anyone who enjoyed the humour of Shaun of the Dead and the witty zombie-filled Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Warm Bodies will come as a delightful surprise addition to the zombie canon. Penned by Isaac Marion, the story follows the life (or lack of) led by R and his fellow zombies.
A devastating zombie outbreak has ravaged the world, causing the dead and dying to be reborn as zombies whilst humans are forced to live in self-contained hubs were they do their best to stave off the encroaching zombies. Told from R’s viewpoint, the reality for the zombies, and R especially, is a heart-breaking one. Trapped inside the prison of his own body, R must face the frustrations of not being able to fully articulate all that is going on in his head as well as suffering the eternal lust for brains and blood.
Marion imbibes Warm Bodies with intriguing, and often comedic, asides that flesh out the otherwise dead world. In the telling of R’s tale it becomes apparent that being a zombie isn’t all bad. With the monotnous greys of their world removing all distinction (if they had the capacity to fully distinguish and describe, that is) they live relatively humanely, caring for their young and even marrying. R gets hitched within the first ten pages of the book and gets kids not long after, humorously stating ‘we [zombies] grunt and moan, we shrug and nod, and sometimes a few words slip out. It’s not that different from before’.
The metaphors and language Marion employs injects a lively enjoyability into the book’s proceedings whilst R’s internal monologue is elegantly worded despite his external syllable barrier. The book ultimately gets into its stride when R meets Julie, a living human woman, whose boyfriend’s brain affects R differently during consumption. After spotting Julie and stashing the remaining portion of Perry (her boyfriend)’s brain into his pocket, R decides to save Julie and takes her back to the zombie’s hang out; an airport.
Although, understandably, rather one-sided at first, their friendship manages to flourish. R takes to nibling Perry’s brain to understand more about him and Julie whilst the euphoric effects of it (as well as Julie’s presence) has a drastic effect on his actions. Serenading Julie with the records he’s hoarded, R’s feelings are endearing, even if her initial reactions to his feelings are delicately put when she says ‘are you. Fucking. Kidding me?’. Poor R. Things improve however and soon the two of them find themselves battling to change the opinion of both the humans Julie loves and the ‘boneys’ who try to stop their burgeoning friendship.
The forbidden feelings that begin to surface between R and Julie, whilst echoing Romeo and Juliet, brings a crushing hope into R’s life; although being around Julie fundementally changes him he knows he can’t have her forever. In stating ‘I don’t want to die’ R proves that zombies aren’t really dead, either inside or out, just slightly different. The boneys that populate the book are menacing but R’s fellow fleshy zombies are believable and flawed, M being a particular delight – even if he is a little leery.
Flashbacks litter the book and help R understand both sides of the terrible plague that has cursed the world. Through experiencing moments in Perry’s life he remembers humanity and comes to terms with the change that has to occur if the world is ever to repair itself.
Warm Bodies is a moving tale of life and death that successfully blurs the boundary between the two. Bella Swan take note, this is what having a dead boyfriend is really like.
The book is set to be adapted to film. Nicholas Hoult is rumoured to be in line to play R whilst Teresa Palmer may play Julie. Jonathan Levine is rumoured to direct.
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