The world has been more or less overtaken by zombies, groaning swaying creatures who exist mainly to feast on the remaining humans' flesh. "R" is one such, but he occasionally has dreams about what it's like to be human, and he thinks about who he was even though he can't quite figure it out. On a raid one day, R sees a girl, Julie, and instead of eating her, decides to save her. He masks her with zombie blood and brings her back to the airport where the zombies live, somehow changed because of her brightness, vivacity, and humanness. Despite the fact that R is a zombie and Julie is a human, things begin to change between them, and R begins to wonder if there might be more to life than his zombie self realised.
I doubt my summary above conveyed this book properly, and I hope you haven't clicked away, because I loved this book. I mean well and truly loved it, was completely drawn in by it, found passages in it that I liked and actually marked to remember. If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you'll probably know by the lack of quotes around here that I simply don't take note of it very often. I'm rarely struck by a particular passage to such an extent that I'll specifically mark it out - I see them, but I generally just keep on reading. Not here.
What most struck me about the book was the fact that Marion used death in order to define life. It was somehow funny and profound at the exact same time - I knew that this guy was an arm-waving, moaning zombie, Marion cracks jokes regularly about how they try to recapture certain elements of their humanness - but at the same time he's reminding his readers, reminding me, how actually amazing it is to be alive. And now I'll shut up and just quote the book:
"Sex, once a law as undisputed as gravity, has been disproved. The equation erased, the backboard broken.
Sometimes it's a relief. I remember the need, the insatiable hunger that ruled my life and the lives of everyone around me. Sometimes I'm glad to be free of it. There's less trouble now. But our loss of this, the most basic of all human passions, might sum up our loss of everything else. It's made things quieter. Simpler. And it's one of the surest signs that we're dead." (p 25)
It just struck me as so poignant - life, messy as it is, is something that is precious, and now that R has lost it, he realises this.
Of course, this is also something of a love story, if one of the most unusual ones that I've ever read. I was doubtful at first, I'll be honest, because who can imagine a zombie as a hero? I'm already not the world's biggest fan of paranormal romances. But, rather astonishingly, it works, and it's not because we forget R is a zombie, either, as we're reminded of this very often. Instead, it's because we can see inside his head, and we see how he changes as Julie enters his life. It's quite a remarkable book. And despite the author's intro amusingly citing his lack of qualifications, it's beautifully written, and I was pulled into this post-apocalyptic world without any effort on my part.
Warm Bodies is an astonishingly beautiful book - a reminder of what it is to be human and a touching romance wrapped up in a zombie novel, of all things. It's also wildly funny at times and even disgusting at others, which also makes it one of the most peculiar books I've ever read, but it's oh so worth it. You truly won't be sorry you picked this gem up.