Friday, 11 January 2013

Book Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

R is a zombie. He hangs out in an abandoned airport with other zombies and, other than the occasional attack on the living so they can feast on their brains, doesn't really do much. he doesn't remember his former life, or even his own name... but he thinks it begins with an R. Along with his fellow zombies, R has no desires, no real passions or feelings - save the compulsion to eat. So when they encounter a bunch of the living and start to devour them, R is taken aback by the need not to eat but to save one of them. 

When the zombies eat brains in this dystopian future, they get a glimpse into the mind of that person. It is this 'transference' of sorts that sees R affected by a strong connection with the young man he is devouring. In a flash, he sees the world as Perry saw it and - for the first time in this new zombie 'life' of his - begins to feel, to think, to see. What he sees first and foremost is Julie - Perry's former girlfriend. As soon as he sees her cowering in the corner amongst all the bloodshed, his only compulsion is to protect her and therein begins this captivating zom-rom-com.

Warm Bodies is a darkly comic take on the zombie apocalypse genre with two incredible central leads - both damaged, both looking to the other to improve themselves. R's inner voice - conflicting and collaborating with that of Perry - is intoxicating and for a book that relies heavily on narrative rather than dialogue, this is essential. It is, rather brilliantly, his story not hers. R has the opening and it is with him that the reader first connects. Warm Bodies is about what happens when this zombie meets a girl - not the other way around.

Though the clever wit and humour work superbly here, this is not a laugh riot. Serious questions are raised about the uncertain future of the human race and how something so overpowering as this can affect people's priorities and beliefs. The characters are able or unable to forgive, thanks to the new world they find themselves in. Many simply strive to stay alive, while others question the meaning of their prolonged existence and some give up hope altogether.

On each page, there is something new and exciting to discover just as R finds himself changing the more time he spends with Julie. The brave original twist Marion has taken on this age-old apocalyptic/zombie genre is a revelation. It manages to be serious and thought-provoking but hilarious, romantic and gorgeous - with brain eating for good measure.

4.5/5 FOBLES

The film adaptation of Warm Bodies, which stars Nicholas Hoult, is out in cinemas in February. It is directed by Jonathan Levine (50/50) and also stars Teresa Palmer and John Malkovich.

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