Title: Warm Bodies
Author: Isaac Marion
My Age Recommendation: 14+
Publisher: Vintage (read on Kobo e-reader)
Publication Date: October 2010
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.
This is an intriguing novel. Unique, I guess and this is from someone who’s read a lot of zombie books. Re-animated corpses with feelings is not an entirely new concept. George Romero kind of did it in the movie Day Of The Dead, but in that case Bub was all kinds of bad.
Here what could easily have felt like a trite gimmick works a treat and that’s mainly thanks to Marion’s writing.
It was actually the language that made me ponder whether I liked this book initially. R is an (undead) guy who can’t remember his own name, yet his internal monologue – the book is first-person perspective – is overflowing with colourful metaphors and verbiage.
It caused me to think, I suppose OVERthink, whether it was “realistic”. Of course that seems ridiculous in the world of zombies, but if you’re going to write in this genre then it’s important you build your environment, your reality and stick to those rules.
And that’s where Marion does a fantastic job. He creates a unique place, vivid characters and while they grow in the emotional sense, they don’t do things they shouldn’t – WITHIN THE FABRIC OF THIS PARTICULAR STORY.
Its cleverness is also reflected in the way it jumps back and forth in place and time, even POV and yet Marion manages to make it feel effortless and graspable.
It’s no surprise this has been snatched up by Hollywood, but for the real experience, I suggest reading the novel. Romantic, gory, funny, odd, it’s got an awful lot going for it.
And as it reaches it climax, it does what all good zombie stories should do and that’s act as a piece of social commentary. Some tales do this with all the subtlety of an anvil, but Marion’s a more gifted author than that. This is not up there with the truly great pieces of undead art, but it’s close.