R is a young man with an existential crisis–he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, noidentity, and no pulse, but he has dreams.
After experiencing a teenage boy’s memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and stragely sweet relationship with the victim’s human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world. – Amazon
As far as zombies go, my knowledge of them is fairly basic: Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth series….maybe one or two other things here and there. Like the ones featured in those works of fiction, the zombies I’m used to are the typical mean and nasty ones that you have to remember to double tap (Rule #2). About a year ago, a friend linked me to the short story that would later expand into Warm Bodies and it was easy to get hooked to the premise and Isaac Marion’s writing voice.
In this zombie universe, when zombies eat away at their victims they are given glimpses of the human’s lives. As R munches on the brain of Perry, Julie’s boyfriend, he finds himself overwhelmed by the thoughts and feelings that consume him. Perry’s memories aren’t fleeting; instead they affect R quite srongly. Rather than helping himself to a healthy helping of Julie, he is motivated to protect her and takes her to the airport where he lives. From there, their relationship slowly begins to develop. Naturally, Julie is scared, angry, and attempts to escape, but R eventually grows on her. Any romance between them is subtle and sweet and I personally found it to be more of a friendship than anything else.
Despite the short length of the book and the easy-to-follow narrative, Warm Bodies did come off as a bit too predictable. While, to some degree, it can be great to have an idea of where the story is headed, I would have enjoyed a few more surprises along the way — especially since, hello, there are zombies! Instead it played it a little too safe for my liking. An explanation for the existence of the zombies was also lacking and I would have been interested to have received more details on their history. That said, Warm Bodies was still a very enjoyable read and I will continue to think fondly of the heartwarming relationship between R and Julie.