Monday, February 15, 2016

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Zombies are not my thing. I've never seen an episode of The Walking Dead, I couldn't tell you anything about any zombie movie ever made except for Warm Bodies. I watched it one day with a friend and I was so surprised to see how much I liked it. When I realized it was based on a book, Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, of course I had to read it. Normally I prefer to read a book before seeing the movie adaptation, but in this instance it was a little backwards, and that was okay. The book added so much more information and I still really liked it.

Warm Bodies follows R, a zombie wandering an airport with no recollection whatsoever of his previous life or even his name. He thinks it started with an R and so he just goes by that initial. When he and his zombie friends are out on a hunting trip, something a little strange happens to R. As he feasts on the brain of a young man, he sees what the young man knew and realizes that the girl cowering in the corner is the young man's girlfriend, Julie. Overcome by the urge to protect her, R takes Julie back with him, alive, and hides her. As they begin to form some new strange kinship, R begins to change, to almost awaken. The story follows them as they attempt to understand the world around them and consider if it can be fixed.

I was surprised by the prose contained in the thoughts and descriptions in this book.

Julie looks at me like she's waiting for more, and I wonder if I've expressed anything at all with my halting, mumbled soliloquy. Are my words ever actually audible, or do they just echo in my head while people stare at me, waiting? I want to change my punctuation. I long for exclamation marks, but I'm drowning in ellipses.

I was also surprised at how deep this book gets at times. It examines humanity in a way one doesn't expect from a zombie book. When R says, "I've never thought of these other creatures walking around me as people. Human, yes, but not people." It hit that isn't that how we often see other people around us? Or don't see them, as the case may be? We wander through life, but do we really see the people around us? Most of us can't even name our neighbors. How can we know anything else about them? Marion seems to be questioning the loss of humanity in humans. Later in the story, a theory about the cause of the plague emerges:

"I think we crushed ourselves down over the centuries. Buried ourselves under greed and hate and whatever other sins we could find until our souls finally hit the bottom of the universe."

Is that what we are doing to ourselves? When the Boneys, the leaders of the Dead, educate the newly Dead they show them pictures of death, of the Living fighting back and killing the Dead. They show them horrible, gruesome pictures to teach them that the world is something awful and that they must hate it, fight it and kill it. I couldn't help but be reminded of some of the things we sometimes see on the news: the promotion of hate and fear in order to motivate the support of a philosophy of hate and fear. This ...thing... is different. First we fear it, then we hate it, finally, we kill it. It does sound familiar to me. Frighteningly familiar.

I really liked this book. I read it quickly and I think it's one I'll reread. Even if zombies aren't your thing either, I think you'll like it. Give it a try.

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