Sunday, July 10, 2011
Book Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
"We grunt and groan, we shrug and nod, and sometimes a few words slip out. It's not that different from before. But it does make me sad that we've forgotten our names. Out of everything, this seems to me the most tragic. I miss my own and I mourn for everyone else's, because I'd like to love them, but I don't know who they are."
"R is a young man with an existential crisis--he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams.
"After experiencing a teenage boy's memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and strangely sweet relationship with the victim's human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world."
The narration in this book is perfectly told by "R," a zombie who can't remember the rest of his name. In fact the entire book is good in every aspect and has become book #2 (#1 being Room by Emma Donoghue) from my 2011 reading that I want to own just to have on the bookshelf. It's a great and exciting story, every character is fantastically three-dimensional, the writing is fantastic, and it's both hilarious and meaningful all at the same time. I would even compare the author's writing to Douglas Adams' (though not quite as whimsical), and I don't do that lightly.
But on top of all this, it's also a poignant look into what it means to be alive, what it means to be dead, and what it means to have hope. Though there's an obvious scientific answer to "living" or "dead," it's much more of a quandary when the dead come back to eat you... and when the dead start making choices and communicating their thoughts. And there's also the question of whether you're truly living while you're still alive, or if you've already let your soul die long before the body perishes.
I can't recommend this book enough, though I would caution that it's probably appropriate for high school and above. It's a little gory (though not overly), has drug and alcohol use, and contains some swearing... though mostly from the living, as the vocabulary of the dead is limited.
And it's already being made into a movie!