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Best zombie novel ever! Warm bodies by Isaac Marion

April 11, 2011

By the volume of fiction books starting to arrive featuring zombies, it seems to me that zombies may shortly replace vampires as the next popular craze. I have to admit, there is a strange fascination with these creatures – from the vacant undead in movies like “Sean of the dead” to the more devious species in “Resident evil”.  I think the attraction is that we believe zombies couldn’t possibly exist; wherease there is that slight element of doubt about creatures like vampires.  With zombies, we can give ourselves a little scare occasionally, without the least apprehension that we may one day face our fears! (Let’s hope anyway)

“Warm bodies”  by Isaac Marion

Who would have thought that a zombie could be so likeable!  R is a zombie, and he is the main character of this novel. It’s set in a world where some kind of contagion caused most humans to convert into zombies, and they hunt the remaining humans for food. The book is written in the first person … and the thoughts of a zombie are much more interesting and convoluted than one would think.  R is resigned to being a zombie, but he misses having memories and emotions. The only way for a zombie to have these things is to eat a human brain and then experience some of the deceaseds memories vicariously.  It’s a lonely existence, although he is “married” to a zombie woman, and they have been assigned a  zombie son and daughter by the leaders of the group – the elder zombies who have progressed to the point that they are nothing but animated skeletons.  He is as fond of his family as a zombie can be, but his undeath is very unexciting.

One day, on a hunting expedition, R eats the brains of a young man – and starts to change.  Suddenly, he develops ‘feelings’ for Julie, the girlfriend of the deceased young man, and immediately saves her from the other zombies. He smuggles her into his home in the zombie compound.  The more he is exposed to Julie, the more he seems to ‘come alive’, and the changes R experiences seem to be contagious, as his zombie friends start to change too.  Julie is vibrant, exciting, full of life, and she seems to quite like R.

At great risk to themselves, R and his friends help Julie escape the zombie conclave and get back to the stadium, where her group of humans lives.  But R cannot stand being without Julie – so, enraging his fellow zombies, he impersonates a human and breaks into the stadium to find her.  A tender, romantic relationship burgeons between R and Julie, but eventually, his existence in the stadium is revealed. Now R is being hunted by both the humans and the zombies, as both sides race to kill him before he can complete his transition to a new species, which may cause the end of both zombies and humans alike.

This book was extremely original and fun. It had elements of humour, romance, adventure, horror, and a great deal of poignancy.  It would be a blast on the big screen, and in fact, Summit Entertainment have apparently just secured the rights and begun casting.  Highly recommended. And now I’m off to see what else Isaac Marion has written  …

reviewed by Natalie

Addendum:  this has now been made into a movie, released 2013. Having seen it, it’s 95% same as book – a good interpretation. – Natalie 

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