I know it might be blasphemy to admit this on a site frequented by so many Pajibans, but here goes: I’m not really into zombies. I have no desire to watch The Walking Dead (and have muted all related hashtags on Twitter); no interest in World War Z. I did see Shawn of the Dead about two years ago and I recall laughing very loudly at Zombieland. But that’s it for me.
I say this all because the reason I ended up reading Warm Bodies is because I saw the movie. It was available on Redbox, my husband and I wanted to watch something, and we both thought we’d remembered someone saying it was cute and different from standard zombie fare. And that generic someone was correct: the movie was adorable. So adorable that we ended up watching all the extras, including one where they speak with the author of the book. If I’m remembering correctly, the book was actually written to fulfill an option placed on a short story Mr. Marion had written, and which a film director had picked up. That sounded kind of interesting, so I decided to read the book.
The book is a quick read – it’s not short, but the action moves at a nice clip. If you’re familiar with the film, you’ll recognize most of what’s in the book, although there are some differences. Based loosely on Romeo and Juliet, Warm Bodies follows the life (or “life”) of R., a zombie who has a very rich inner monologue. He lives in an airplane at the airport (flight has stopped long ago), goes out hunting with his fellow zombies, and even has a zombie wife. Until he runs into Julie and her friends, regular humans out on a scavenging mission from their home, an old sports stadium. Julie gets caught up with the zombies in R.’s hunting group, and R. saves her, taking her back with him to the airport and hiding her from the other zombies who just smell the life in her.
While the book certainly has some connection to the star-crossed lovers concept of Romeo and Juliet (I mean, how much more star-crossed can you get when one of you is, you know, dead), I enjoyed it more for its exploration of what being a zombie means. Why DO they eat brains? What happens when they do? Do they have any feelings? Can they be helped? What does that mean for the regular, living humans? As I said, I’ve never really cared for zombies once they are seen as this threat to the humans, but the back story? The view from their eyes? That’s pretty cool indeed.