R is a young man with an existential crisis–he is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. His ability to connect with the outside world is limited to a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing.
After experiencing a teenage boy’s memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and strangely 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 choice to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.
In a post apocalyptic world overrun with zombies, time passes nearly unnoticed. R is a zombie, who has no idea how he died, who he was in his former life, or what happened to the world around him. His only clue to his identity is the business-y attire he’s been wearing ever since he woke up as a zombie. He bides his time between meals with repetitive behaviors like endlessly riding escalators, and staring off into space. Until one day, on a routine hunt for “food”, he meets Julie. After eating her boyfriend Perry’s brain, R re-lives flashes of Perry’s life, and becomes enamored with Julie. He saves her life, and brings her back to live with him in a makeshift colony of zombies at the local airport.
Warm Bodies was nothing like I expected. At its core, it’s the story of a young man having an existential crisis, who rediscovers hope, love, and what it means to be human. Reading this book is akin to going on a journey of self discovery, and makes you wonder how far you would go to keep faith in yourself, and humanity at large at the end of the world.
It’s a beautifully written story, told from the perspective of a vastly intelligent narrator, who has lost the capacity for complex speech. R has many deep thoughts, but finds it difficult to do much more than grunt out the most basic sentences. He can no longer read or write, making his re-birth in a changed world even more confusing than ever. Through Julie, R rediscovers his will to live, and begins yearning for his lost humanity.
Despite his appetite for human flesh, it’s easy to feel sympathetic towards R. The narration is entertaining with R’s biting social commentary about both zombie, and human society .
While Julie might still be human, her life isn’t that different from R’s. The remaining humans live in converted stadiums, in cramped quarters. Many have lost the will to carry on, and find living such a stunted life meaningless.
Together, R and Julie change each other’s lives, causing a chain reaction that has lasting implications in the world around them.
I liked Warm Bodies because it is a great humanity tale about persevering when you’d much rather give up. And yes, there is some romance, but much like the slightly similarly themed “survival at all costs” Hunger Games trilogy, there is a lot more to this story.
4/5 Stars. Warm Bodies will be released in the US April 26th.
Learn more about Isaac and Warm Bodies at his website.
Or you can watch his homemade book trailer:
Disclosure: I purchased a used UK copy of Warm Bodies from Amazon.