Saturday, January 26, 2013

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

A zombie who yearns for a better life ends up falling in love—with a human—in this astonishingly original debut novel.

R is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He doesn’t enjoy killing people; he enjoys riding escalators and listening to Frank Sinatra. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.

Not just another zombie novel, Warm Bodies is funny, scary, and deeply moving


After seeing the movie trailer, I expected Warm Bodies to be a comedy. It was not. I found this story to be full of deep thoughts about civilisation, humanity, hopes, dreams and what makes us want to stay alive.

I loved seeing the characters develop throughout this story. R, who goes from being really indifferent and slightly cynical to actually wanting things and chasing after them. Julie, who goes from being "messed-up" to actually standing up to her father. And the supporting characters were great, too. Nora, Julie's friend is really badass, and M, R's zombie friend is both loyal and funny.

I thought the love story between R and Julie was really sweet. The plot kept steadily moving forwards, although whenever R had one of his flashbacks (when he eats a brain, he experiences the memories of that person) and also the collective voices of humanity he "heard" were sometimes a bit stalling. A further issue I had was the use of the pronoun "I". Sometimes, "I" was R, and sometimes, when he had flashbacks to Perry's life (who is Julie's former boyfriend) "I" was Perry. At times, this could get a little confusing.

While R's inner life with all the flashbacks and collective memories he kept "hearing" was sometimes a hindrance to the plot development, it certainly is a great platform for reflecting on human society. Thus, there were a lot of images and symbols and quotable passages that enriched the novel and made it more than just another boy falls for girl and they eventually get together story. Take for example R, who, in the beginning, waits until the elevators turn on in the abandoned airport where he lives. He rides up and down those elevators, not going anywhere, but there isn't much else to do. In the end, he climbs a ladder, trying to reach the light. This is an example that shows how Marion's writing style is laden with metaphoric images. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book, but I guess it might be lost on the impatient reader.

Another aspect I highly enjoyed was Marion's portrayal of a post-apocalyptic society. I think the setting was really smart and well described, with all of humanity living in their stadium cities, building walls around themselves just to survive a little bit longer...

All in all, an enjoyable read that was both tender and sweet, but also raised a lot of big questions and made me think.

My rating: 

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