Warm Bodies – Isaac Marion

This is the tale of R, a zombie who isn’t quite satisfied with his lot in death. He hates his need to rip into living people, and his best friend M calls him a girl for wiping the blood off his hands and face once they have feasted.

Then something miraculous happens – R meets a girl. Okay so ‘meet’ might be the more positive spin on it as R actually devours the boyfriend of this girl before his memories stir something R thought was lost. He sees Julie and knows he has to look after her, save her. Thus sparking the strangest evolution of the zombie myth so far, and a really good story.

Like so many books I read of late, this one was sparked by seeing the trailer for the movie version,  starring Nicholas Hoult of About A Boy and X-Men fame as R, the zombie who can only remember the first letter of his name. I was instantly fascinated and thought, I read so much about vampires, werewolves and wizards that I might as well give zombies a go. The book is endorsed by the likes of Audrey Nieffenger who is known for complex plots and Simon Pegg, a lifelong fan of zombies – it also has the dubious accolade of praise from Stephanie Meyer, but if The Hunger Games trilogy can still be great literature even with her endorsement then so could Warm Bodies.

(don’t get me wrong, I’m as addicted to Twilight as the next person, I just recognise that it is appalling writing)

This story is told through the eyes of R, our hero, and Marion manages to create a vivid portrait of the end of the world through his pearly irises. There is the complication of having ‘Boneys’ to contend with who are the more violent of the zombie species – no one knows quite how they came to be, but some explanation is offered toward the end. To be honest I’m still not completely clear on them and I felt that a little more explanation would have been handy.

I really enjoyed the relationship between R and M, how even in Death people bond and create social circles. Julie I was less a fan of – she grated on me sometimes but at least she wasn’t a sap. The flashbacks of Perry Kelvin (Julie’s recently eaten boyfriend) in R’s mind are intriguing, but again like with the Boneys there was something lacking with the conclusion of his story. Perhaps it is the reliance of some authors on Divine or Higher Power as explanations, which as an Atheist I don’t really hold with but the rest of the story was good enough for me to let it slide.

I definitely recommend this book. It is a sharp and imaginative retelling of the ‘love-conquers-all story’ and a twist on the tale of zombies – vampires, werewolves and now zombies get to fall in love and change their nature in some way. I say bring it on, and I’ll be intrigued by Marion’s next venture.

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