Welcome to 2016’s Darwin’s Book Corner Blog! We are going to kick off the year by taking a look at Warm Bodies by Issac Marion.
The book was first published in 2010, but you may have either seen or heard of the very popular movie, starring Nicholas Holt, that was released in 2013. I know this book is on a bit on the old side, but it’s such a great read I felt I had to share it with you all (plus it’s zombies, no more needs to be said right…)
Warm Bodies actually started as a short story on Issac Marion’s blog, but grew so popular he managed to turn it into a fantastic full length novel. Described as a zombie romance story, this great narrative makes allusions to William Shakespere’s Romeo & Juliet, with maybe a hint of Twilight in there too. It was so popular that Issac Marion has very recently (July 2015) completed the sequel, called ‘The Living’, it currently has no publication date, but has set the internet alight with #warmbodies2 and gotten fans (including me) very excited! It will be great to see where lead character R has gotten too…
Now read on to find out about Warm Bodies…
I am dead, but it’s not too bad. I’ve learned to live with it.
“I’m sorry I can’t properly introduce myself, but I don’t have a name anymore”
“He is my best friend. By best friend, I mean we occasionally grunt and stare awkwardly at each other.”
Meet R, so called because he can’t remember his full name, but has a feeling it started with R. He is the lovable lead character in our tale, he lives in an abandoned airport with the rest of the community of the dead. They are divided up into two groups, the fleshies are the dead who still have flesh on their bones, and the bonies, who are literally skeletons. The bonies are pretty much in charge of the dead community, holding church services, granting weddings and all sort of crazy undead stuff. R’s bet friend is M, (zombies need best friends too) they sit together and try to communicate, even managing a few grunted words to each other. In this post apocalyptic future, R is different from the other dead, he has more empathy, intuition and thought. He has reservations about killing and eating the living, knowing he must to survive but hating it at the same time. M understands that R is more sensitive and tries to comfort his friend. R soon discovers that the best part of the living to eat is the brain. The brain gives the thoughts, feelings and memories of that person, and this is like a drug to R, he likes seeing and feeling the way they do, he can not control this compulsion for knowledge.
What a massive responsibility, being a moral creature
“I wish I wasn’t so epically awkward, I’m never comfortable in my own skin. Probably because it’s beginning to rot”
A set of circumstances occur, where R ends up married to another zombie, (it will make sense when you read it…) and is then given two zombie children to care for. Seeing these children try to play games and act like normal children is too much for R’s sensitive nature, he pities them and feels bad for not being able to change anything for them. Later, he goes to M and gathers a mob ready for a feeding frenzy. The hunting party manage to capture a living scavenger group, R kills and eats a boy called Perry, he eats his brain and sees visions and images of Perry’s girlfriend Julie. After the vision R sees that Julie is in the scavenger party and decides, in a moment of mercy to save Julie, he disguises her by covering her in zombie blood and takes her back to his ‘house’, an abandoned 747 airplane. Because of his unusual nature the 747 is filled with odd treasures that R has found along the way, including old vinyl records, which he uses to communicate with Julie, letting her know he will keep her safe. When Julie is asleep R continues to eat Perry’s brain and have visions and feelings, over a period of days R and Perry manage to converse and communicate through these visions.
We smile because this is how we save the world
“My friend M says the irony of being a zombie is that everything is funny, but you can’t smile because your lips have rotted off”
R wakes up to the sound of the other zombies, including M, attacking Julie. He fights and stops them, M is confused and confronts his friend but R stands his ground. The bonies then show up but do not attack, instead they show R a picture of the living fighting the dead, conveying that the status quo must be kept. Julie convinces R that she needs to go home, they go to leave but the boneys attack, M helps them escape, showing his best friend that although he doesn’t understand he will still help (bromance alert!). R and Julie have to stop overnight in a run down house, Julie realises that she cares about R and that her father will kill him because of what he is. So she sneaks out and leaves R behind, calling her father to get her home to one of the last cities of living humans on earth.
The past is made out of facts…I guess the future is just hope
“In my palm I can feel the echo of her pulse, standing in for the absence of mine.”
By this point R is aware he is changing, he feels ‘cold’ for the first time since being dead. M and a group of dead have found R, they have been run out of the airport for challenging the bonies. M tells R that he knows he is changing, and that there are others changing too, Julie and R’s relationship has had a ripple effect (well not in so many words, more like grunts, but R gets the gist!). Through the visions, Perry tells R that he must be ready for the challenges and change that is about to come his way. R decides to go to the city, full of living humans, and find Julie to tell her about the changes (still not clear how, as he can’t really speak properly). Julie and R represent a new future and a new hope, but how will it all play out?
This book is more than just a zombie story, more than just a romance, there are so many levels at play during this that it will boggle your brain and excite your neurons! How can the undead have a community? How do they have religion? Understanding? Feelings? Why do Perry and R have this connection? There is so much to be answered and not enough blog space to do it!
Give it a read, let me know what you think and feel after this delightful undead tale!
Happy Reading Guys and Dolls!