Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion

>> Tuesday, September 03, 2013

TITLE: Warm Bodies
AUTHOR: Isaac Marion

PAGES: 256

SETTING: Near future
TYPE: Speculative fiction

R is having a no-life crisis—he is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he is a little different from his fellow Dead. He may occasionally eat people, but he’d rather be riding abandoned airport escalators, listening to Sinatra in the cozy 747 he calls home, or collecting souvenirs from the ruins of civilization.

And then he meets a girl.

First as his captive, then his reluctant house guest, Julie is a blast of living color in R’s gray landscape, and something inside him begins to bloom. He doesn’t want to eat this girl—although she looks delicious—he wants to protect her. But their unlikely bond will cause ripples they can’t imagine, and their hopeless world won’t change without a fight.
Warm Bodies is the story of R, a zombie living with a big group of others of his kind in an abandoned airport. We get an inkling from the start that R and, to a lesser extent, his friend, M (that's all they can remember of their previous lives, the beginning of their names) might be somewhat special amongst their fellow mindless, lumbering companions, who seem driven purely by their instincts (braaaaains!).

We get proof of that during a raid. A group of young humans are cornered in a ruined building outside of their stronghold, and the zombies soon overcome their resistance. As usual, they go straight for the brains, which allow zombies to vicariously experience the memories and emotions of non-zombie lives. Some of those memories involve the man's girlfriend, and suddenly, R notices she's in the room. And in a complete break with usual zombie MO, he decides to take her back to the airport with him, unbitten. It's rare enough for a zombie to have enough self-control to just bite a human and make them into a zombie (usually they just devour). To keep themselves from biting them at all, not to mention keep them close without attacking them, is unprecedented.

And the more time R spends with the girl, Julie, the more human he becomes. Gradually, the fog in his mind begins to clear, and he begins to feel. But if they want to change the way their world works, they'll face resistance both from humans and zombies.

Yep, this is Romeo and Juliet with zombies (I felt ridiculously proud of myself when I realised R's friend, M's name is meant to be for Mercutio), but the point is not so much the romance, but what it means to be alive and to be human. I found that quite interesting and well done, although at some points the author goes a bit overboard. Some of the sections in which R thinks deep thoughts and ruminates on state of the world came across as him being a bit up his own arse, rather than insightful. For the most part, however, it was interesting.

I also liked the humour here. There's a lot of grimness (and, to be honest, ickyness) here, but R's viewpoint makes it bearable. He's not a wisecracking comedian, it's all in the way his observations are wry and a bit off-beat. His descriptions of his fellow zombies, especially, made me giggle.


AUDIOBOOK NOTES: The narrator was Kevin Kenerly, and he was good. It must have been a challenge to do R's speech and show how it gradually got better, but he succeeded. I also thought the delivery helped emphasise the sly humour in the narration.


Darlynne,  3 September 2013 at 16:51  

Just checked it out from the library, same narrator. Thanks! I'm eager to listen.

Rosario 4 September 2013 at 06:24  

I hope you enjoy it, Darlynne. It's not a perfect read (or listen), but I was glad I had.

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