I was quite skeptical, as well as intrigued, when I was sent Warm Bodies to review. I would never have imagined putting “zombie” and “romance” in the same sentence. I assumed the putrid decomposition of flesh and the eating of brains would have been a bit of a turn off.
After reading the first page I didn’t know whether I would be able to take this book seriously: a zombie romance? And with quotes like these…
“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. “
“None of us are particularly attractive, but death has been kinder to me than some. I’m still in the early stages of decay. …”
… my lips were twitching with suppressed laughter. But after only a few more pages I wasn’t laughing any more, other than from the brilliant intentional dry sense of humour which was scattered throughout the book.
Warm Bodies was a total surprise. I didn’t expect it to be so heart-warming or to love the hero as much as I did considering he’s a brain munching zombie. I knew going in that this was a book about zombie romance, but it’s not in the ‘paranormal romance’ style. It has a bittersweet edge – along side the sweet endearing thoughts of “R” there’s lots of wonderfully descriptive detail on zombies eating humans, which was completely disgusting but I loved it all the same. I was right there with “R”.
The reader stays inside the mind of “R”, the hero of the piece, and I say ‘hero’ because that’s exactly what he is. He does eat people, yes, and he shuffles along with only one thought and that’s to munch his way through humanity, but things begin to change for “R” when he meets Julie. Unfortunately their meeting comes at an unfortunate moment, after “R” bites down on the skull of Perry, her boyfriend.
Nobody knows what caused the dead to rise. But “R”, who remembers nothing of his former life before becoming one of the living dead, has glimpses of the lives he kills when eating their brains. Memories of his victims flicker by in his mind and he treasures them. But after meeting Julie, and eating Perry, things begin to change.
With each bite of cerebrum, Perry comes alive in “R’s” mind and “R” sees Perry’s life from childhood until the very moment he dies. He also sees Julie as part of Perry’s memories and for some reason when he comes back to reality and sees her crouching and shivering with fright against the wall, he doesn’t devour her but instead takes her hand and leads her back to his home.
“R” lives in an aeroplane at an abandoned disused airport with many other zombies, they call their gathering a ‘hive’. They are also organised by another creature called the ‘Boney’s’ – they are not nice! The zombies are also hunted by the few remaining humans, one of which is Julie’s father. Julie and a few thousand other humans live in a stadium and have done for many years. It’s a community where children are born with soldiers protecting the parameters. Not much of a life, but survival all the same.
There’s a surprising amount of action in “Warm Bodies” and the story moves at an exciting pace. And when Julie and “R” become friends something miraculous happens and everything starts to transform for zombies and humans alike. The story ends a little ambiguously for my taste, but there’s hope and the promise of new beginnings.
I devoured this book and enjoyed it from beginning to end. It’s quite somber, but contains delicious bittersweet moments that we can identify with regarding our own humanity and mortality. This book wants to make you think about who we are, what we are and what a gift life is and how we shouldn’t take it for granted. As well as lots of brraaaaaaains – nom nom!
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