Having Twilight author, Stephanie Meyer, applaud your work on the cover of your debut novel–which happens to be about romance and zombies–isn’t exactly an awesome selling point for horror fans. When I initially saw the cover of Warm Bodies and read the premise, I brushed the book off as awful paranormal romance trash that would ruin my favorite horror subgenre. However, upon finally reading the novel, I was pleasantly surprised by the characters, the themes, and the new zombie world created by the author.
Warm Bodies is the first novel for Isaac Marion and it was initially self-published on the author’s website. The story is an interesting one and can be described as paranormal romance, however, the book itself is much deeper than its designated category makes it seem. Although the story is paranormal and has a romantic element to it, it is more about humanity and what it means to take life for granted.
The story opens with R, a zombie who has no idea who he really is. He can speak few words and he cannot read much or remember his name but he does have feelings and compassion for what is going on in the world around him. He has a zombie friend, M, and is given a wife as well as two zombie children for the pair to raise. However, something is missing for the young zombie and he can’t quite figure out what it is–until he eats Perry Kelvin.
On a routine raid for food, R and his hoard of zombies find a group of survivors and attack. R feasts on a young boy, Perry Kelvin, and from the moment he bites into his brain, he begins reliving the boys memories, the most important one being the memories of his relationship with his girlfriend, Julie. Immediately feeling something new and exciting, R becomes connected to his victim’s girlfriend and rescues her from being eaten, eventually taking her back to his living quarters.
At first Julie is very standoffish, which is to be expected in her situation, and it made me question how the character would be willing to have an important relationship with the zombie character. However, as I continued reading and learned more about the characters and their lives, everything became clear to me and it made sense how the pair could create a bond, despite their unusual situation.
Marion writes with ease and he created a beautiful yet flawed world which made me stop and really think about how awesome I have it (as of right now). The characterization is spot-on and I found myself picturing exactly what each person looked like and knew exactly what they would say in a given situation.
Julie is a strong-minded character with a mouth like a truck driver and I absolutely loved her for that. She was real, flawed, but completely optimistic despite the dire situation and declining world around her. Unlike Bella in Twilight, there is a reason to love this girl and to fight for her because she is the girl you would want by your side, for more reasons than one: she is the best friend, the girl next door, and the girl who could totally kick your ass if need be while simultaneously chugging some brewskis. And she actually has a mind of her own! Who knew that girls could think for themselves!
Even the zombie character, R, is sympathetic despite the fact that he’s a zombie and he killed Julie’s love. The author developed R perfectly, showcasing just how heartbreaking his story is, making you root for him and hope that he will get his second chance at life. R has many redeeming qualities as well, such as his selflessness in regard to Julie and his determination to change his ways, which only furthers the readers love for the character.
Warm Bodies doesn’t simply just focus on the relationship between Julie and R, it paints a picture of the post-apocalyptic world that they live in, showcasing exactly how much of a toll the new world takes on each individual within it. We learn about Perry through his memories and we witness the decline of a family relationship with Julie and her stone-faced father.
The reader is taken into the mind of the zombie and given a peak at the world that they live in along with the humans. We are shown that they are still like us, only dead, and they are having just as hard a time dealing with the world as the Living are. In comparison, Marion shows the world that the Living are rebuilding and the awful circumstances surrounding them.
I hate to describe it as paranormal romance because people will automatically assume it’s a story about a dumb broad who starts banging a dead guy. And they would be DEAD wrong (pun intended). The story allows the reader to see this world where we are all headed if we don’t stop and soak in all that we have now. People kill the Earth and never stop to appreciate their surroundings and if one keeps taking something for granted, they eventually will lose it.
It’s a beautiful story about relationships, life, and death. It’s a story about humanity as well as the loss of it and how to regain it back again. It’s not about a stalker-vampire and feminine werewolf being in love with a dull girl. It’s not about another dull girl being completely controlled and abused by a rich man in an “amazing” relationship. It’s a real story about real people and real issues–just with zombies.
Warm Bodies is being made into a film to be released 2013, starring Teresa Palmer as Julie and a newcomer as R. However, the production team behind the Twilight saga is behind the film and it seems as though they are really pushing the romance aspect of the story. Plus, I’m not really sure how well the complex world of the book will play out on screen, especially since a lot of what the reader is given is through memories and thoughts. We’ll see, I guess.
The book is beyond a paranormal romance novel; it is the study of relationships and humanity. The story and its characters are engrossing from start to finish and I can guarantee upon completion of the story, you will think differently about your life. It is a very creative and different approach to the zombie subgenre and it was done respectfully and well. I recommend this story to anyone looking for an interesting zombie read.