Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Minor spoilers included.
I adored this little book. I have quite a few issues with it, but I loved it anyway.
Itâ€™s basically Romeo and Juliet if Romeo were a zombie and the romance happened in a post-apocalyptic city. So thatâ€™s fun, right? However, the build up between â€œRâ€ and Julie in this book is much more thorough than its prototype, even if R finds himself in love at first sight with our heroine.
Isaac Marionâ€™s zombie world includes a host of zombies with some low-level forms of consciousness. They are, in effect, sleep walkers who wander in packs for hunting and live in groups, forming low-level friendships and yearning for relationships and family in a rudimentary way that is usually overpowered by their overarching desire to eat brains.
The book had some editorial errors that were unforgivable in my mindâ€”there is a strange discrepancy about whether the zombies can die and how and there were a few gaffes that confused me. In one scene Julie takes her friend Noraâ€™s drink away to spike it but Nora continues to sip from it and then Julie brings the drink back. Stuff like that should have been caught at some point! But I donâ€™t blame the author for it.
[SPOILER] Early on â€œRâ€ kills Julieâ€™s boyfriend, Perry. In this world, zombies get flashes of the life of the person they killed when they eat their brains. Perryâ€™s desperate desire to protect Julie is seemingly transferred onto R, and this is how R comes to protect her himself. R then falls for Julie after kidnapping her (presumably to save her from the other zombies but really he canâ€™t stand to let her go). Now, killing Julieâ€™s boyfriend should present a real problem for our star-crossed loversâ€”you would think that Julie would be horrified by this, but the author glazes over that very real problem by noting that Julie blames the situationâ€”the plague that has taken over humanity and turned them into zombiesâ€”but not R personally. By glazing that over too easilyâ€”and having her basically forgive R with a â€œZombie plague? Bygones!â€ moment, the author misses the opportunity to make Julie complex and veers her a little too far into saintly dream girl territory for me.
Despite the complaints listed above? I still think this was my favorite read of 2012 so far. Despite the handful of errors, some problematic world building issues, and the lack of complexity in Julieâ€™s feelings? The author has created a charming narrator in R, a zombie who loves music and longs for love deep down under his grey skin. Marion makes R incredibly relatable, wistful, romantic, and a hero you find yourself truly rooting for despite the fact that he ate the brains of the heroineâ€™s boyfriend.
The narrative moves at a swift pace, carrying the reader briskly through the plot while also imbuing R with a sense of humanity that is palpable. I found myself completely wrapped up in Râ€™s head, the little world he builds inside it, and rooting for him and Julie completely. Itâ€™s actually the most romantic book Iâ€™ve read in a very long time.
I also found myself comparing Marionâ€™s swift style to Stephenie Meyer. He shows a great deal more restraint than she doesâ€”his plotting is stripped down but the style itself has the same fast-paced first person narration with strong romantic overtones. And I mean all of that as a compliment since I know everybody loves to bash Stephenie Meyer but there is a reason Twilight is such a swift read and easy to get caught up in. This book has those same elements. Itâ€™s a very fun, fast, romantic read.
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