R is a young man with an existential crisis--he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse. Just dreams.
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 burst of vibrant color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that R lives in. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.
Scary, funny, and surprisingly poignant, Warm Bodies is about being alive, being dead and the blurry line in between.
With the release of the film adaptation (starring the wonderful Nicholas Hoult as 'R'), I decided that it was about time I gave it another go, and wow, I'm so glad I did!
Because I enjoy knowing as little as possible about a book before I start reading it (synopsis' that give as little away as possible, whilst still making me excited about reading the book are brilliant), all I really knew about this, before I read it, was that it's a zombie novel from the point of view of one of the zombies. As a result, I didn't really know what to expect from it, and I don't think I could have anticipated what I got!
I was laughing from the very first chapter, which isn't quite the standard reaction I would have to any other zombie book! This was such a pleasant surprise, and it's definitely one of the reasons I ended up enjoying the book so much - it dealt with a frightening concept, but in a light-hearted, humorous, and overall optimistic way. Rather than the world ending and it all being doom & gloom, R, our undead protagonist, provides a ray of hope when he decides he wants to fight his condition and gradually starts to change.
R's character was a fantastic one - possible one of the most unique I've ever come across, and he has certainly become a favourite of mine! He tried not to let being a zombie get to him, and despite his overpowering zombie nature, he saves a human girl, Julie, from certain death. This is when his character really starts to bloom. As he begins to fall in love with her through the stolen memories in her dead boyfriend's brain, he becomes a little more human with each passing day (ironic, considering he eats a human brain in order for this change to happen!), managing longer sentences, bigger words and even a sense of humour. I fell for his character very quickly, which was weird, considering in any other zombie novel, he would have been the bad guy!
What I think I enjoyed most about the novel was the chance to see things from the zombie's point of view - this is something I've personally never come across before. I'd never considered that the zombies, as well as the humans, could have their own organised civilisation (of sorts), but in this they do.
When we first meet R, he is living in a derelict airport with countless other zombies, and the 'Bonies', their sinister skeletal leaders (about the only truly scary thing about the novel). He has a best friend, 'M' (so named because, like R, they can only remember the first letter of their human name), and even gets married and 'has children' (adopted zombie children). This concept is both interesting and extremely funny - it's ridiculous, which makes it funny, but at the same time, I was very entertained by it - I just loved the whole idea surrounding their weird little world.
The relationship between R and Julie was another wonderful thing about the book, and something that needs mentioning above all else, I feel. As unlikely as it seems, R saves Julie's life, and disguising her as the newly dead, he takes her back to the airport with him, to keep her safe. It's immediately clear to Julie that R is not like the others, and her fear and anxiety soon fade. What replaces this is a surprisingly trusting relationship.
At first it seems she has no choice, and she doesn't - she's deep in zombie territory, and any escape attempt would almost certainly get her killed. But even after she and R escape, that trust continues and strengthens, despite some inevitable issues.
Despite the danger he could pose to her, Julie genuinely wants him around, and this could prove to be far more important than anyone could have imagined. Could their relationship save the world?
I loved everything about this novel. It was funny, witty, poignant, stunningly original and incredibly well-written. I can't wait to find out what will happen next, when the sequel is finally released (expected 2014, according to Goodreads). I will also definitely be reading the prequel, The New Hunger. I can't get enough of this series now, or of this author.
Warm Bodies is a masterpiece!