Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Book Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Soooo... I though I would get back to reviewing books by reviewing a book that had a very different approach. And for that I chose Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. I heard of this book after the movie came out. And for some reason I held out on watching the movie before reading this book. That was a great decision.

'R' is a zombie. He has no name, no memories, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead. Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows - warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can't understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins. This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won't be changed without a fight...

As you can tell from the synopsis, this is a zombie story. What attracted me to this book was that this was a zombie story told through a zombie's perspective. That in itself was a winning plot in my mind. I admit that R is already a different kind of zombie when it comes to the others. He actually thinks. But what was even more interesting was that the zombies were not as mindless as we would assume. The zombies actually had a sort of society. It was like they were a community - they had a place of worship, a school, of course a school where they taught the young how to kill humans but a school none the less and they also had a concept of marriage.

One of the things that Marion made clear early on was that the zombies ate not because they felt hungry for nutrition but they just felt hungry with something other than their stomach. They could relive a persons memory by eating their brains. This is important because this shows that even though they were the living dead, they were trying to experience the life force by eating brains, by having those concepts of humanity that you would think that the living dead might not have. 

When R attacks Perry, a member of a salvage team, and eats his brains something happens. He suddenly decides to save Julie, another member of the team and girl friend of Perry, and takes her with him to his home at the airport. it is through his interactions with her that he sees the changes that happen. He starts speaking longer sentences, he doesn't feel as hungry as before and so on. Another change is that he starts dreaming. It is just Perry's memories at first but he slowly starts dreaming his own dreams. 

On the other end of the spectrum are the Living who have walled up a stadium and are living inside of it. The Living are barely surviving. They guard their borders, send out salvage teams to get necessary items, teach the children to hunt and kill the zombies. The people in charge think it more important to just keep fighting instead of preserving life. It is from this environment that Julie, Perry and their friends hail. There is a part in the book where Julie asks her friends what they dream of doing. Perry, who wanted to previously wanted to be a writer does not see a point in it anymore, he doesn't understand whom it would benefit. What would be the point of writing a story in a world that is in its last leg? This is how the living live now. They live to survive. The zombies were just the last nail in the coffin to a world already ravaged  with wars before the plague.

In the end the dead are more closer to living than the Living are. The dead are moving towards reclaiming all that they had lost in this plague but the Living have lost touch with all the good parts of being human and are just wrapped up, not in hate, but in fear and fear has always brought out the worst in us humans. 

That is why this book isn't just a zombie book. It is more than that. Even I did not expect such deep messages from this book. I mean it's such a small book too. Just 240 pages long. But it packs such a punch. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved it that it made me think so much. If anyone is hesitant to pick this book up because it has got zombies and the like, don't be. It's just that the setting is such that there are zombies. 

I rate this book a 4.5/5

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