Monday, May 30, 2011

Book Review: "Warm Bodies" by Isaac Marion

Wow. This book totally caught me by surprise. I don't know whether it's because I'm a complete and utter sap, or because I've been recently enthralled by books populated by vampires and zombies and werewolves and other visions of a dystopian future, but I absolutely LOVED this book. I read it in a little more than a day and now I'm sad that it's over.

In a future in which most of the world has been destroyed by wars and plague and riots, very few humans still exist, and they are hunkered down in former sports stadiums and other large buildings, hiding from the zombies that have taken over. One of those zombies is R. He doesn't know what his name was "before," he doesn't know how long he has been a zombie, but he knows that he is much more curious about the past than most of his fellow zombies are, and he wants to understand what made him the way he is. One day, after killing a teenage boy and experiencing his memories while chewing his brain, he somehow subsumes the boy's soul, and finds himself wanting to protect the boy's girlfriend, Julie Grigio, whose father is one of the leaders of the anti-zombie movement. Julie brings (for lack of a better word) life to R, and the desire to try and change the direction in which the world is headed. And as their unlikely relationship develops and strengthens, they set a chain of events in motion that may have ramifications for all of the inhabitants of their world—both the living and the undead.

At its heart, this book is a story about finding hope where there previously was none, understanding who you are and believing you have the ability to make change happen. But while these themes may be somewhat clichéd, Isaac Marion incorporates them into a fantastic story populated by characters whom you might have never seen before, but who grow on you fairly quickly. Don't let the zombie storyline dissuade you from thinking this book is silly or lightweight; the plot is tremendously interesting and keeps you guessing just where it will go next. I read a brief interview with Marion in which he indicated he wasn't sure if this would be the first book of a series; I certainly hope it will be, because I want to know what comes next for these characters. This is definitely one of the best books I've read this year.

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