Braaaaaaaaains… I mean, Bookworms.
Sorry about that, guys. I just finished reading Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion and I’m still recovering. It’s an uplifting zombie novel with heart (beating and otherwise…) It’s not often I get to use the word “uplifting” in conjunction with “zombie,” but Warm Bodies is a rare novel.
We start off in an airport that is no longer functioning. It’s home to “R” and countless other zombies. R is a bit of an enigma. He cannot remember his former life, and all he can recall about his name is that it began with an R. Oh yes, he also lusts after human brains. BUT. He can hold conversations. As long as they’re in sentences of 4 syllables or less. His best friend “M” retains an echo of his former life, and something approaching a sense of humor. R amuses himself by riding the escalators up and down when the generators periodically kick on. One day he grunts to a lady zombie. They make a pilgrimage to another portion of the airport and are married, zombie style.
WHAT?! I know, right? Not only is this book written from the perspective of a zombie, the zombies in question are ORGANIZED. They have something approaching a religion, which is manned by skeleton priests. They bring food back from hunting trips for the child zombies. They hold “school” during which they teach the zombie children how to go for the jugular. Big departure from traditional zombie lore! However, they fact that THEY WANT TO EAT YOU ALIVE remains. They TOTALLY want to eat you alive. Your brain especially, because they can relive bits an pieces of your life by digesting your brain… Like a little movie montage…
One day, R and his compadres go on a hunting trip. They set upon a group of unsuspecting teenagers on a salvage expedition. While R is devouring a particularly tasty brain, he starts to FEEL his victims feelings more intensely than he ever has before. R notices a girl he recognizes as “Julie” (thanks to his delicious snack) and has an uncontrollable urge to protect her. He smears her with stinky dead blood and hauls her back to his home sweet home- his own personal 747. How’s THAT for creepy? Kidnapped by a zombie?!
Julie has a peculiar effect on R. He is suddenly capable of speaking in longer sentences. He resists the urge to gnaw human flesh. He begins to feel and care and be more aware than he can ever recall being. Julie does a remarkable job of not freaking the frick out. I guess that comes from living in a cramped stadium with what’s left of humanity while fighting off things that want to eat you. Julie and R bond over music, of all things. Julie loves the Beatles (and while “All You Need Is Love” isn’t specifically referenced in the book, it’s clear to ME that’s our theme song here) while R prefers the soothing sounds of vintage Frank Sinatra on vinyl.
R’s zombiness thaws the more time he spends with Julie. Needless to say, much like the Capulets and Montagues, neither the zombies or the humans are too keen on this little romance. I won’t be the queen of spoilers… Who are we kidding? Yes I will. Let’s just say this has a much happier ending than Romeo & Juliet. HA!!!!! I just got that! “R” as in Romeo and Julie, like Juliet! You are one clever fellow, Isaac Marion. Ahhh good times. It’s a refreshing departure from the doom and gloom of the zombie genre. The message of hope is one we could use more of these days.
I have NOT seen the movie version of this, but I’ve heard great things. I don’t think I’d be too disappointed by major plot changes- the girl-meets-zombie-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks premise is enough to keep me entertained! What do you think, Bookworms? Anybody read this? Seen the movie? What do you think?