REVIEW: "Warm Bodies", by Isaac Marion


I recently finished "Warm Bodies" by Isaac Marion and found it to be an amazing read. I never would have believed that I could feel such empathy for a leading man who feasts on human flesh. But Marion's unusual protagonist "R" is really very compelling.

Perhaps one of the most interesting ideas in Marion's book is the suggestion that in R's head, he is still eloquent and philosophical. But the act of converting thoughts into action, like driving a car and speaking in sentences of more than four syllables, is too difficult. Maybe I enjoyed this idea because these days my head is the same poetic place it's always been, but suddenly the acts of talking and writing coherently seem stilted and lifeless.

What saves the day in "Warm Bodies", of course, is love. When out hunting, R feasts upon the brain of a wisened lad by the name of Perry. After doing so he is able to recall Perry's life and his love for a woman named Julie. When R sees Julie crouched and scared, he makes the decision to protect her and not feed on her.

What happens next is touching without being clich├ęd or corny.  Love transforms both R and Julie. As their names might suggest there is something of a Capulet/Montague thing going on here. There's also another zombie called M who is evocative of Shakespeare's Mercutio, a father blinded by prejudice, and even a balcony scene. None of this is crudely obvious and the plot is vastly different, but still; I appreciate the hints.

Overall, I think I loved this book because it highlights something about humanity as a species. It would be trite to say that we are all becoming zombies blah blah blah... and that's not really what I'm on about anyway. What I loved was the idea of love being possible even against unfathomable odds. When R meets Julie, he goes on a journey of discovery with hopes of feeling his blood warm in his veins again. He wants his heart to beat once more and he wants it to beat for her. And the heroine is not so vastly different to her undead suitor. What makes her different to the rest of her colony, however, is her ability to accept R's affection and to return it with her own. Sometimes love, no matter how it's seen by the majority, can be enough to bring life, or at least rebirth, to even the grimmest of stories.

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