'R' is a zombie. He has no name, no memories, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.
Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows - warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey
landscape. For reasons he can't understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins.
This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won't be changed without a fight...
When my husband asked me to do a guest review for his site, the light bulb above my head instantly flicked on with a resounding Wuthering Heights. Then just as quickly, the filament went, the electricity failed and the bulb fell to the floor; smashing into tiny broken pieces on the ground. Come on Amy, Wuthering Heights? The site is called Book Bloke for heaven’s sake. Although anyone can enjoy Emily Bronte’s absolute classic; my post-apocalyptic, fantasy and zombie loving Book Bloke, without a doubt, would not. Luckily, it didn’t take me long to think of another book to review - Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies- was the perfect book for me to guest review.
In Warm Bodies, the story follows R, a zombie. All R knows is that he is dead. He has no idea who he was before or how he got where he is now but what is evident throughout the novel is that R is desperate to live some form of life. Even in his catatonic zombie form, R takes a wife and kids, clinging to the ideal of societal norms well past his stage of decomposition. It isn’t until R meets the furiously strong willed Julie and after devouring her poor boyfriends brain, that R really begins to grasp real life again. I won’t spoil the book by revealing much more than that because this
book is a must read.
The reader never gets to know R’s backstory, to be honest it’s not important who he was only who he becomes throughout the story and how he gets there. He is unquestionably the most interesting zombie in the world of literary fiction. Even in his undead state, R still has that certain something that sets him apart from the rest. ‘A hunting party forms around us as we shuffle towards town. It’s not hard to find recruits for these expeditions, even if no one is hungry. Focused thought is a rare occurrence here and we all follow it when it manifests. Otherwise we’d just be standing around and groaning all day.’ It’s little gems like this in R’s internal monologue that indicate to the reader from the very beginning that R is not just some unintelligent being meandering around the airport. R is aware, even if he is not aware that he is aware and that makes his character so deliciously complex that I, for one, was gripped.
Marion has reworked the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet in such a fresh and modern way that I defy you not to love this story. Not only has he managed this but he has given readers an alternative
ending to the tale which would not have worked for the original but elevates Warm Bodies, so at no point do you feel like this tale is not his own. Man or woman, it has all you could ask for action, love, humour and most importantly, a plethora of great messages. The most prevalent for me were firstly, love is powerful. Anyone that has felt the draw of real love can connect with this theme. Secondly, don’t judge a book by its cover, Julie doesn’t and it pretty much saves the world. Third and most importantly, that no matter how dark a place you find yourself in, with a little optimism, hope and heart, life can begin again.