Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
R is having a no-life crisis—he is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he is a little different from his fellow Dead. He may occasionally eat people, but he’d rather be riding abandoned airport escalators, listening to Sinatra in the cozy 747 he calls home, or collecting souvenirs from the ruins of civilization.
And then he meets a girl.
First as his captive, then his reluctant house guest, Julie is a blast of living color in R’s gray landscape, and something inside him begins to bloom. He doesn’t want to eat this girl—although she looks delicious—he wants to protect her. But their unlikely bond will cause ripples they can’t imagine, and their hopeless world won’t change without a fight.
I saw the film based on this book first. Loved it. Then I had to read the original story. There are some noticeable differences, especially in the ending and how the “Bonies” (skeleton, less human-like zombies) are treated. R is a zombie with no memory of his past, but he’s different from his companions. He collects things that help him to feel something; and he dislikes having to kill to feed. He’s conflicted about his nature. And when he kills a young man and claims his memories, something in R changes when he sees Julie.
Julie is a spirited young woman who tries to hold onto hope for the future despite her grim surroundings. Despite being brought back into a lair of zombies, she is brave and almost fearless. Her feelings for R start with confusion, then fascination, then those feelings slowly develop into something more.
This is no ordinary zombie story of gore and destruction. This is a love story centering on R’s self-reflection and gradual change. The novel is darker and more somber than the film. But I loved both in their own ways. I think the changes worked well for the film and made it more appealing to a larger audience. The film was well-cast, though slightly younger. Nicholas Hoult was exceptional and brought to “R” to life – pun intended. The film ends in an upbeat, heartfelt and satisfying conclusion. And the novel, though somewhat different, does to a milder extent as well, but leaves room for an upcoming sequel. Well-paced and full of suspense, adventure, humor, and romance – Warm Bodies is one of my favorite films and reads this year.