R is a zombie. He can’t remember his full name, what he did or who was when he was alive, or even how he died. The only sounds he can make are grunts and groans, but inside his head is swimming with thought and emotion. Yes, he eats people, but it’s only logistical, he needs to continue existing. And what is this existence anyway? Well, he finds his reason when he and a group of other zombies attack a group of humans and he sees Julie. He helps Julie escape the ordeal alive, and helps her blend in and protects her. He and Julie forge a strange, tentative bond that is tested once they get out into the real world. R doesn’t want to go back to normal zombie life, and he feels like maybe, just maybe he’s learning to be human again.
I love supernatural stories, vampires, demons, ghosts, I love em all. Zombies fall under that category, but they’re toward the bottom of my list and quite frankly with zombie craze spawning a ton of books, I was a little tired out. I had seen the premise of Warm Bodies and thought “Eh, not for me. Just another attempt to wring the last idea out of a tired genre.” However, the positive buzz for this book lasted a lot longer than most others and it stayed on my radar. And then the movie came out and it looked charming and funny, so I finally broke down and read it. Sometimes, friends, I am an idiot. I was an idiot to wait that long to read this book because it is great. It was absolutely wonderful and fun to read from start to finish.
First of all, R is a very likable narrator. There is a lot of dry humor, and wry observations about human nature and not-so-human nature. His relationship with his best friend “M” (and M himself) is probably my favorite part of the book. The set up is a simple one, but Marion makes sly observations about our nature and how we identify ourselves and those around us through the zombie apocalypse. There are some bittersweet moments (for instance, the thought that they may never see a plane in the sky again) that remind us that even if the story has a happy ending, there is much that has been sacrificed, many that have been lost.
There are quite a few opportunities for clichés to rear their ugly head, and indeed I often expected them, but Marion deftly steers clear of any sappiness or unnecessary theatrics. This book is funny, thoughtful, and likeable and I found myself rooting for M and Julie the entire time. There was a subplot with the “Boneys” that I wish had been fleshed out a bit more, but it’s really a very minor complaint about what is otherwise an excellent story. I recommend this to anyone looking for a fresh, fun take on the zombie apocalypse.