Friday, March 8, 2013

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

You've heard the saying "never judge a book by its cover." Well in the case of Warm Bodies it's more like never judge a book by its movie trailer.

Don't get me wrong, I love the look of the film. Seeing the trailer was what got me interested in the story in the first place, and when I found out it was adapted from a novel, I knew I had to read it. But when I picked up the book, I was expecting something humorous; something along the lines of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies--thoroughly enjoyable, but so over the top it becomes almost comical.

What I found was a heartwarming story of hope, love, and choosing life.

R is a zombie. He wishes he could put into words the eloquent thoughts in his head, wishes he could remember more of his name than just the first letter. He doesn't want to be dead, doesn't enjoy eating the living, but that's just the way it is.

Until the memories.

Not his memories, but those of Perry, the young man whose brain R has just consumed. And when R chooses to save the life of Perry's girlfriend Julie, he sets off a chain of events that shakes what's left of the worlds of both the Living and the Dead.

My first clue that I was in for a surprise came in the first chapter. R is introducing himself, explaining what life is like when you're the walking dead. In an incredibly feeling inner dialogue, R mourns the loss of his and his fellow zombies' names because, "I'd like to love them but I don't know who they are." As the story progressed, I continued to be amazed by how touching and heartfelt it was. Even the love story seemed to fade in the midst of R's quest to give himself--and the rest of the world--a second chance at life.

As he and Julie struggle to fight the hierarchy and provoke change, you discover an eerie resemblance between the world of the Dead and the world of the Living. As R describes the zombie world with words like, "...the abandoning of quests, the surrendering of desires, the settling in and settling down that is the inevitable fate of the Dead" he could just as well be describing the living, who have made staying alive their number one priority while forgetting what it really means to live.

So much about this book is impressive. The pages are filled with R's deep, reflective thoughts on life and hope, which are downright inspiring. The characters are complex and authentic. Marion manages to create a zombie that you find yourself immediately rooting for, and more than that, a zombie that's not just a shuffling, possessed, broken figure of rotting flesh, but an altered human, with lingering emotions, thoughts and desires. In the end, I think readers like myself will find that while this book has all the elements of a great zombie story, it ultimately becomes much more than that--a beautiful tale of fighting for a second chance at life.

One last note for those of you who like to be forewarned: There's plenty of blood and gore and several uses of the "f" word, so despite the pg-13 movie rating, this is adult fiction.



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