When I was offered an advance reading copy of Isaac Marion's debut novel, Warm Bodies, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The short description I had been given indicated it was a "zombie romance." I can't recall ever having encountered those two words paired together, and I couldn't imagine at first if it was intended to be serious fiction or humor. After reading it, I quickly came to realize that it is both.
This unusual tale about R, a zombie in an alternative dystopian future, turns out to be a surprisingly touching story about a guy facing an existential crises. When his life takes a turn for the (even more) unexpected, R finds himself getting in tune with his emotions, falling in love, and blundering his way through the awkwardness of wooing a human girl in his run-down zombie shape. The object of R's affections, Julie, happens to be the young idealistic daughter of a general heading up the local war on zombies.
Marion manages to maintain levity through the dry humorous writing while creating characters who are remarkably unique, memorable, and likable.
"No one I know has any specific memories. Just a vague, vestigial knowledge of a world long gone. Faint impressions of past lives that linger like phantom limbs. We recognize civilization — buildings, cars, a general overview — but we have no personal role in it. No history. We are just here. We do what we do, time passes, and no one asks questions. But like I've said, it's not so bad. We may appear mindless, but we aren't. The rusty cogs of cogency still spin, just geared down and down till the outer motion is barely visible. We grunt and groan, we shrug and nod, and sometimes a few words slip out. It's not that different from before."
When I read the blurbs by authors such as Audrey Niffenegger, Stephanie Meyer, and Josh Bazell, I was eager to delve into the book and see for myself whether it was as intriguing as they made it sound. I have to say, I was not disappointed. I found myself engaged in the story straight from the start and caring about the outcome of a zombie in love. Even though it is only May, I am already certain that this is one that will be included on my "Favorite Books of 2011" list. Soon to be a major motion picture, this is one I'll have to see as soon as it comes out in theaters.