Baxlala’s #CBR5 Review #10: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

warmYou know how sometimes you pick up a book and know you’re going to love it before you’ve even finished the first chapter?

That was Warm Bodies for me. I’ve been obsessed with zombies for as long as I’ve known what a zombie was, from “they’re coming to get you, Barbara” to rage virus infected monkeys, mostly because zombies terrify me and so I want to be as prepared as possible for the impending zombie apocalypse, meaning I will read or watch or DEVOUR (mmm, brains) anything zombie-related, out of self-preservation at the very least.

I did things in the wrong order, however, as I so often do, and saw the movie before I read the book. It’s not that I didn’t WANT to read the book first, it’s just that I’d had it reserved at the library and it didn’t come in until after I saw the movie. And, sure, LOGICALLY, I could have just put off seeing the movie until the book came in but I really wanted popcorn, you guys, I’m sorry.

The book ended up coming in the next day, and if it had only come a few days earlier, I totally would have had it finished by movie time. In the end, I don’t think it mattered much. I loved the movie, I loved the book, and the two were similar enough that I only loved the book more by a teeny tiny bit, and that’s because, in the book, I got to live inside the zombie’s head. Sure, there were voiceovers in the movie but it’s not quite the same, you know?

Warm Bodies tells the story of a young zombie named R, named so because he can’t remember his real name. He doesn’t recall how he became a zombie and he doesn’t know how long he’s been a zombie. R meets a young (and live!) woman named Julie when he and his zombie friends attack Julie’s group. R eats Julie’s boyfriend, Perry, and, upon tasting Perry’s brain, R absorbs his memories and falls in love with Julie, going to great lengths to protect her for the rest of the book.

I loved this new spin on the zombie tale, a difficult endeavor, really, in this zombie-saturated landscape. Much like Shaun of the Dead, Warm Bodies is funny, much funnier than I expected, and the people, even the zombies, feel like actual human (or, you know, human-like) people. The zombie threat is real but there’s a real heart to the story, a cold, dead, zombie heart that warms and starts beating as the story unfolds.

This isn’t the Walking Dead, so those of you who need a little hope with your apocalypse will get that. Also, I don’t know about you, but I spent most of my time reading Walking Dead wishing that I could punch most of the characters in the face. There was no problem with that in Warm Bodies, as I deeply enjoyed the characters, especially the zombies. R, though he is a zombie, has a best friend named M (played by Rob Corddry in the movie to absolute perfection), and (in the book), even has a wife and children, assigned to him by the Boneys, the longest-dead zombies who have lost all traces of humanity.

Something I loved about Warm Bodies was that the zombies, though undead and slaves to the inevitable brain-hunger, still held onto some basic human conventions, much like how the zombies in Shaun of the Dead were able to perform the same rudimentary tasks they’d done in life. The Warm Bodies zombies go to church together, have a school of sorts (how else to teach zombie children how to kill humans?), some zombies get married and are given children, and still others even attempt some undead schmexy times (you can imagine how successful that was).

R, as he spends more time with Julie (and inside Perry’s mind, which he can access by eating the bits of Perry’s brain that he keeps in his pocket, YUMMY), starts becoming less zombie-like and more human. It’s a nice thought, that should we end up lurching about, all undead-like, we could still come back from it. Nice and hopeful, just how I like it.

If there was anything missing for me, it was just that I wanted to know how the zombie apocalypse had come about this time. But I didn’t find the book lacking because it didn’t provide this information. That’s just my preference. I always want to know how it happened. Otherwise how will we prevent it?

Fancypants42′s #CBR5 Review #3: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

warmbodiesI’d seen the trailers for the movie, but I didn’t even realize the movie was based on a novel. A friend of mine sent me the book for Christmas, saying I absolutely must read this before seeing the movie. I was fairly nonchalant about this given that I only just now found out that it was a book in the first place. I was really interested in the movie, though, so figured it’d probably be a decent read.

Wow. This is the first book in a long, long time that I absolutely couldn’t put down. I was 100 pages in before I even blinked. The writing style, the story, the characters – all of it just worked so well that I was lost in this alternate universe. It was the quintessential bookworm experience and one I’d missed lately.

The story is a sort of post-apocalyptic take on Romeo and Juliet, which I didn’t even realize until about halfway through. The author goes his own way and doesn’t try to fit his plot into each scene of the classic romance, but more uses it as a muse. Romeo in this case is R, a zombie. Juliet is Julie, one of the survivors of this book’s version of the zombie apocalypse. R isn’t your typical zombie though and the book is actually his narration.

It’s an unlikely love story, especially given when first the two star-crossed lovers meet, it’s right after R has eaten Julie’s boyfriend.

Ultimately, it’s so much more than a love story. It’s about people and coming together to find a way to not just survive, but to thrive and to LIVE. The humans that are left end up focusing so much on survival that there isn’t much else left. The zombies find a way to show them that there is life to be had yet, and there is hope.

The creativity and imagination behind this book are staggering. I was in love with it from page one. R being a zombie never really gave me pause and I was with him the entire way. I think this is Marion’s first novel and I hope it’s the first of many.

Now I’ll go see the movie and complain about how different it is from the perfection that is this novel.

cuteNugly’s #CBR5 Review #1: Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

ImageA dear friend of mine, knowing my love of mythical creatures and whimsy gave me the collection of short stories, Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier. The start the anthology by asking the question “Which makes for a better story? Unicorns? or Zombies?.” Every other chapter is marked with a Zombie or Unicorn symbol. There’s also small dialogues of banter between the two editors vying for their side which I actually could have done with out, although it is really the whole point of the book. Also, even though its considered a YA book it has cussing, sex, and even hinted beastiality. So beware if you plan on handing this to someone younger then high school. The overall reading level is on par with YA books, but the content is a little heavy. Though it was kind of strange that all but one of the authors were women. The only male writter is Larbalestier’s husband. So the stories tend to be a little female heavy on the protagonists. (Not that I’m complaining! Its nice to see kick-ass female leads!) But recommending this to a teenage boy might be hard to do.

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Kira’s #CBR5 Review #4: Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion

warmbodiesAs the movie previews suggest, Warm Bodies is a remarkably similar premise: Zombie “R” spends his days meandering around an airport with his fellow undead—including best friend “M”—but during a routine search for food he stumbles across Julie, a human who we later discover just so happens to be the daughter of the military general in charge of preserving whatever semblance of humanity is left. R doesn’t fall in love with Julie so much as feel something, which, when you’re dead, is enough to provoke a bit of curiosity.  Over the course of the novel, R and Julie become friends, and through said friendship (plus all to-be-expected romancing) R finds himself becoming more and more human, a development that not only spells good things for the prospect of Julie not committing necrophilia, but also for the fate of those millions upon millions of other zombies in this post-apocalyptic world. After all, if one can start feeling again, couldn’t they all?

Although zombies are one of the happening supernatural creatures of 2013—thank you, The Walking Dead—Marion does a great job of creating a zombie world that adopts all the typical fixings of the undead, plus some extras. The zombies in Warm Bodies have the capacity for limited speech and thought; they’ve formed semi-communities whose perks include bizarre religious ceremonies and a zombie training school for undead kids. They have friendships, sort of, and get “married,” sort of. Generally speaking, they seem less removed from not only humanity, but mere human-ness, than we are perhaps used to in books/movies/TV shows of this ilk.

Overall, I really really enjoyed Warm Bodies, and am excited to see the movie (because really, who knew that weird-looking kid from About a Boy would turn out decently attractive?) As zombie stories go, it’s fun and quirky, but still speaks to that greater question that accompanies all plague or plague-esque end-of-world scenarios: Why did this happen?


Captain Tuttle’s #CBR5 Post #1 – Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”

All of my friends told me I needed to read this book about the moment it came out. I even had people telling me I needed to name my boy Darcy because of my whole Austen thing. (I didn’t). And yet somehow I managed to miss it for years. What was I thinking?  It’s a hoot.

The book is basically P&P, but with some zombie stuff added in. I read somewhere that it’s 85% of the original, but I didn’t bother to do the math. Most of the story is there, but now there’s a zombie plague in England, and the Bennett girls are warriors trained by Chinese monks to fight the evil undead.  You know, like you do. The standard bits are there, with a bit of a twist. Like, when Jane goes to Netherfield to dine with the sisters Bingley, instead of catching cold in the rain, she has to fight zombies.  In the rain. And catches a cold.

There’s very little to not like about this book especially if you’re an Austen fan. Although, if you’re a Charlotte Lucas-Collins fan, you might be a little bit put out. I was alternately amused and bummed out by Charlotte’s involvement in the story, although her reasons for marrying Mr. Collins this time make a bit more sense.

Anyway, I’m guessing anyone reading this review will have already read this book, so I’m not going to bother recommending it.  If you’ve been holding off reading for fear of treading on Jane’s sacred memory, get over it. There are a lot worse Austen-adjacent books out there.  Believe me, because I’ve read a bunch of them.