Review: Warm Bodies by: Isaac Marion
It’s the moment that we all knew was coming, the zombified Twilight. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion is that book-at least that is what some critics are saying. I personally think it leans more towards Stephanie Meyers other book The Host mixed with Romeo & Juliet. I will say up front that the hardcore zombie fans, the ones who think that 28 Days/Weeks Later are NOT zombie movies should just give this one a pass. I am more lenient in my definition of “zombie” and still had my reservations about how I would feel reading this book.
The unique thing about this book is that the zombies have a culture, they practice a “religion” of sorts, and they have leaders, marriage and adoption of child zombies. We are introduced to the central character, R, amongst a group of zombies that spend their time shuffling around an old airport. The first chapter or so is based around a short story by Isaac Marion titled I Am a Zombie Filled with Love-which is actually very well written and could be a good test run to see if this is something that would interest you enough to spend the time on an entire novel. In the beginning R is married with children, but he spends most of his time trying to figure out who he was. He has a friend, M, who was my favorite character simply because he was funny and, if you can imagine, a ladies man. During a raid, R eats the brain of a young man and lives his memories and in the process, falls in love with his girlfriend-Julie.
This is where I feel the book stops being so unique and reminds me of The Host and Romeo & Juliet. I’ll go with the obvious comparison first, Romeo & Juliet. I found that Warm Bodies followed a very close parallel the R&J. The names of the main characters seemed to be a glaringly obvious tie, as well as R’s friend M…who reminded me of Mercutio. Also, Julie has a friend who is a nurse that knows of their feelings and helps them so that they can be together without Julie’s father being aware, and yes, her father is a striking image of Lord Capulet. And let’s, not forget that the “a rose by any other name…” balcony scene is given tribute. I also felt that Warm Bodies had a strong feel of Stephanie Meyers’ The Host since R falls in love with Julie through the memories of her boyfriend and R still hears his victim’s voice inside his head throughout the book. However, unlike Stephanie Meyer, I fell that Isaac Marion executed the concept better.
It was easy to see that Isaac Marion cares about his characters, especially R because he takes the time to introduce us to him. I am a strong believer in the idea that it’s the characters that make or break a story. I have read several novels that had a good plot but the characters were flat and I couldn’t make myself care about what happened to them. With this story I felt that the characters were well developed, had dimension and distinct personalities. This made it easier to read and helped to make the story at enjoyable at least. It was nice to have a strong female lead in a story about love that wasn’t completely incompetent or co-dependent.
This isn’t a typical story about zombies, and I am sure that many hardcore zombie fans will read it and be enraged at how the genre has been corrupted or will refuse to read it on sheer principle, which I can’t fault them for. I think this is more geared toward that same group of readers that flocked to The Twilight series, although this novel is a little more adult. At first I felt that it was written to bank of the popularity of the current zombie genre and ride the coat tails of The Twilight hysteria which I feel is strongly hinted at since Warm Bodies was already being made into a movie before the book was even released in the US. I can’t say that that wasn’t possibly part of the motivation, but I also think that there was some real desire by the author to tell a story. I can say that I am curious to see what Isaac Marion writes in the future.
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