Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion


As most of you know by now, I am a high school librarian.  Every month, I run a book club during lunch periods.  A few weeks ago, I had a student request that we read Warm Bodies for our next discussion.  I reluctantly agreed because, I mean--really--zombie falls in love with human girl; girl grows to love him back... yadda...yadda.  I thought, "Here we go--Twilight and vampires have kind of fallen out of popularity, and zombies are the NEXT BIG THING, so someone has obviously put two and two together to come up with the next hot book/movie combo."  I am happy to tell you: I was dead-wrong (pun intended).  

The first thing that struck me about the book was how well-written it was.  Marion puts words together in a way that truly impresses.  The narrator, R, is a zombie living among the undead in an abandoned airport of an unnamed city.  The thoughts that run through R's mind are quite complex and insightful for a zombie.  He's looking for more than just the silent wandering and the "food" runs into the city.  Then, during one attack on the human, he comes across Julie and something happens to him.  He takes her back to the airport, keeps her safe, and begins to feel a connection with her.  He begins to change.  Julie, for her part, can't figure out exact WHAT exactly R is.  She has  a hard time figuring out her own feelings, especially when she returns to "civilization," and realizes that a lot of the humans there, including her father, are actually more dead than R ever was.  She and R both have choices to make.  They know that something big, something involving both of them, is about to happen.  Unsure of what role they play in the big picture, both R and Julie are thrust into a war of unforeseen consequence.  

One of the things that struck me early on about this novel was how much I liked R.  In addition to being a rather deep-thinking zombie, the guy just had spark, something that saw how humans came to be in this end-of-days.  I also really appreciated Marion's attempt to theorize as to why something like a zombie apocalypse could happen... how the human spirit is slowly dying, and if something isn't done--if people don't change how they treat each other and what we value, something ugly is coming.  Despite this, the novel gives the reader hope in the end.  If a zombie like R can see the value and beauty if life, why can't we?

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