Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
I’m a sucker for a good retelling of classic literature. 10 Things I Hate About You is a fabulous revival of The Taming of the Shrew. The Lion King is the best Hamlet this side of Shakespeare. Now we can add Warm Bodies to the wonderful list of Shakespearean remakes, because—for those of you in the dark?—that’s exactly what this is. It’s Romeo and Juliet….with zombies.
Meet R! He’s our narrator, and also a zombie. Oh yeah. In this world? Zombies can think. Or maybe just R at first. They aren’t very clear on that point, so it gets a little confusing. Do all zombies have this oddly articulate inner monologue, or is it just R because he’s special? Whatever the case, R has a lot of complex thoughts that he finds almost impossible to articulate. Apparently the tissue connecting brain to vocal chords and mouth has disintegrated and rotted away or something. Who knows? The result is a lot of elipses in his speech as he tries his best to speak more than three syllables, and quite a few hilarious moments. I like R, and I’m glad it’s told from his point-of-view. He has just enough sarcasm and self-deprecation to keep the story interesting, and a zombie narrator is very different from the usual zombie story molds.
Then there’s Julie, his foul-mouthed, hostage-turned-love-interest who is the human side of this volatile change-the-world cocktail. Long story short? Their doomed love might save the world. Dun dun dun duuuuuuun!
- Some great allusions to Romeo and Juliet. His best friend is M (Mercutio anybody?), they’re from opposite sides of the battle, her dead boyfriend is Perry… The list goes on and on.
- Marion doesn’t shy away from gore. It’s a zombie story. People are going to die, and they’re going to die bloody. That’s common sense, right? I mean zombies are eating people. But it’s surprising how often the gore is glossed over. Not here. I mean, it’s not detail to the point that the reader wants to vomit, but it’s realistic enough to ground an unrealistic world.
- The creative setting. An airport for zombie HQ? How often do you feel like a zombie at those terminals? And what’s more conducive to plague transfer than zombies and airports? Not to mention a football stadium housing people.
- It gets cheesy at parts. “Love conquers all” is a strange message for the story warning against fickleness and pointless feuds. It’s more the retelling of the high school version of Romeo and Juliet than the in-depth actual version that speaks for women’s rights and against nonsensical feuds and blindly following allegiances.
- There’s a part in the middle of the story where I got bored and just stopped reading. Eventually I forced myself to pick it up again, and eventually I finished and enjoyed it, but man. That middle section was hard to get past.
- It’s more unrealistic how easily everybody—including Perry himself (don’t ask, just go with it)—forgives R for eating Perry. In fact, the only one mad at R for this vile and grotesque murder is R himself. As everybody else continues to find out they’re like “Yeaaah I figured. OH well.” They even justify it as him wanting to die. It’s a little too neatly wrapped up to be interesting.
All in all a good story with some awkward moments that would probably make a better movie. OH WAIT.