R is a zombie. He doesn’t remember his full name or what he used to do or anything about his life as a human. Like all the others in the zombie overrun world, he just shuffles around and mechanically goes through the motions in the barren post-apocalyptic world. Every day is basically the same and goes by in a bland gray blur except for the occasional dream he has. That is, until he goes with a pack of zombies to feed and eats a teenage boy’s brain. This in itself is nothing special, but he is suddenly flooded with the boy’s memories, something he never had himself. He looks at Julie, the boy’s girlfriend, and saves her from the other zombies after feeling the boy’s love for her. R’s decision to save Julie ultimately changes him in ways he never thought possible. After he takes her to the plane he lives in, they start their own awkward and strangely sweet relationship, much to the chagrin some of the other zombies. Can the living ever truly coexist with the living dead?
This is the best zombie book I have ever read. Ever. Everything about this book is exceptional and goes above and beyond what other zombie novels have done. The novel starts off as many zombie novels do: with the world a barren wasteland covered in zombies whose only interest in humans is in their brains. None of them are really self aware or have any care for what happens except for R. At first, R is much like the rest of them. He has a zombie wife and zombie children, but they aren’t really a family. He is only able to communicate in sparse syllables and shrugs. After he meets Julie, everything changes. He learns to speak and move more fluidly and she even teaches him to drive a car. Besides the physical improvements, he has mental and emotional ones. He treats Julie like his girlfriend. He protects her from the other zombies and strives to make her happy. He feels love for her and eventually stops wanting to eat brains at all. Instead of being satisfied being a dead automaton, he strives to regain his lost humanity. R is the only zombie I can think of that is the hero of a novel and develops as a character more than most human characters I’ve read.
Warm Bodies, beneath its zombies, is ultimately about us. The typical zombies are those that have forgotten how precious life is. They go around their daily lives mechanically and just care about mundane things like money and their jobs. The zombies in the novel go through what they would as humans, such as eating, being with their families, and having sex, but it’s a ghastly parody of actual human life. Even though it’s funny, it still shows us that we shouldn’t take our lives for granted and that we forget how important love really is.
Warm Bodies is a book I would recommend to everyone I know and many that I don’t. The eloquent language, clear voice, and relatable themes make this book reach people beyond the zombie genre. The ending was absolutely perfect and I really hope that Isaac Marion keeps writing because I will definitely be reading whatever comes next.
My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins
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