Book Review: Warm Bodies

Here at the Custom Life, reading is an important part of everyday life. Reading is the lifetime partner of writing. In an effort to read more critically, and share my thoughts on awesome books, I am going to write book reviews of the books I read.

The subject matter of these books will probably vary greatly. The reviews will definitely be based strongly on my opinion, so take these reviews with a grain of salt. They are solely my ideas, thoughts, and views about the stories. In no way are they connected to the views of others, unless I specifically reference someone’s view.


“Warm Bodies” by Isaac Marion

Personal Attraction:
I originally heard about “Warm Bodies” from the movie released in 2013. A zombie romance. Let me start off with saying that I was skeptical, for about 3 seconds, then my inner Rom-Com lover took over and I thought the concept was brilliant. I did watch the movie first, and enjoyed it thoroughly, then I went about my life, ignorant of the books existence. A year later, I saw the book on my sister’s shelf and knew I had to read it.

Short Summary:
R (and yes, that is his name) is a zombie ‘living’ in an airport in a post-apocalyptic United States. He attempts to live as much as the living dead can. Through music, mementos of humanity, leisurely activities, R makes the best of death. He feeds like any zombie, but he struggles with being the living-dead. R craves the humanity of the living. On a hunting trip to the near city, R finds more than a taste of humanity. He finds a beautiful girl, Julie. Julie goes from prisoner to acquaintance to friend. Their bond somehow changes something inside him, and they become a catalyst of change throughout the world.

First off, I loved the book. I decided not to write a full summary and thorough review, because I think you should just go read it. The book speaks for itself. “Warm Bodies” was just the right amount of my favorite elements (imagery, metaphors, diction, tone, structure, symbolism) which made for a comfortable, quick read that still provoked introspection.

I find an uncanny similarity between “Warm Bodies” and “Grendel”, by John Gardner. There is something about being inside the head of a ‘monster’ that allows you to appreciate and empathize with their actions. The fact that they do not speak often puts you in their mind even more, and I really enjoyed that. Most of “Warm Bodies” is told through internal dialogue and R’s digestion of the world.

Marion’s voice was the first thing I noticed about his writing. If I could hand out awards, I would give Marion the award for best use of imagery. “Warm Bodies” hits a depth of meaning with ease. It is poetry. There is something deeply insightful in the way he portrays R. It makes sense that R would be so perceptive as a zombie. A zombie does nothing but see and react, or at least that’s the outsiders assumption. Marion brings us inside R’s thoughts and we see a completely different truth: he is masticating everything he sees and nourishing  introspection. R internalizes and breaks down as much as his zombie brain can and it is much more than one would have expected. The internal struggle and growth is both relatable, tragic, and humorous. Especially as R deals with his encounters with Julie. . .

If I had to leave you one small excerpt, one glimpse at Marion’s poetry, one peek at into R’s mind and his struggle, it would be this:

Julie looks at me like she’s waiting for more, and I wonder if I’ve expressed anything at all with my halting, mumbled soliloquy. Are my words ever actually audible, or do they just echo in my head while people stare at me, waiting? I want to change my punctuation. I long for exclamation marks, but I’m drowning in ellipses.

I’ve already said too much. If you haven’t read the book, go do it. In this case, the clichĂ© is true: the book is much better than the movie.