R is a young man with an existential crisis--he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse. Just dreams.
After experiencing a teenage boy's memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and strangely sweet relationship with the victim's human girlfriend. Julie is a burst of vibrant color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that R lives in. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.
Scary, funny, and surprisingly poignant, Warm Bodies is about being alive, being dead and the blurry line in between. -Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads
You know when you find a book at exactly the right time, and things just gel? I can't remember the last time I was so pulled into a book, not just for it's likable characters or snappy dialogue, but because I cared so deeply about what was happening in the world of the book, in our world, or when I felt like I completely agreed with and understood the author's point. I love how well Marion uses zombies as a metaphor without seeming pretentious or heavy-handed- partially that's because his zombies seem original while still being familiar and often terrifying. I loved the language in this book, too:
“I want to change my punctuation. I long for exclamation marks, but I'm drowning in ellipses.”
“There is a chasm between me and the world outside of me. A gap so wide my feelings can't cross it. By the time my screams reach the other side, they have dwindled into groans.”
“Of course, if I don't eat all of him, if I spare his brain, he'll rise up and follow me back to the airport, and that might make feel better. I'll introduce him to everyone, and maybe we'll stand around and groan for a while. It's hard to say what 'friends' are any more, but that might be close.”
If you haven't already guessed, while there is plenty of humor, most of it is of the very dark variety. Don't be fooled though, this is no cynical snarkfest. There is genuine heart here, under the tasty brains that will make you relive that day you owned the discussion in English class because you "totally get what the author is saying, man."
Then again, I say all that but COMPLETELY missed the bones of a famous play that are shallowly buried here. (Hey guys, did you know The Lion King is "Hamlet"?!) I think I'm glad I did, actually, I loved it on its own and might have been distracted if I knew to look for more references.
I love R. I love Isaac Marion. I love that I get to use the phrase ZomRomCom again to describe the upcoming feature film adaptation. Who would have thought that phrase would be resurrected post-Shaun of the Dead? Speaking of the King of the Zombies, Simon Pegg contributed a blurb for this book which I think sums it up perfectly: “A mesmerizing evolution of a classic contemporary myth.”
Warm Bodies shuffles into theaters February 1st.