James's Reviews > Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
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Jan 07, 12

bookshelves: fantasy
Read from January 05 to 06, 2012

Zombies have been a horror movie staple for decades now, but have never truly found success in literature in the manner that vampires have. A significant reason for this is that the most interesting part of the zombie lore is not the zombies themselves, but rather the effect that their existence and trail of destruction has on the people that remain. And if you want to write about zombies, you want to write about the zombies. Isaac Marion has done something new in his debut novel, he gave the zombies both a sense of depth and individuality unseen before and allowed for a touch of hope to peak through in an immensely nihilistic genre.

The novel focuses on a zombie, "R", and his attempts to woo a human girl, Julie, he fell in love with after consuming her boyfriend's brains and, thereby, his memories. R is a zombie, but also a reluctant killer and a sensitive soul (he enjoys listening to Frank Sinatra) with a sense of eloquence unmatched among the not-living, being able to string three or four syllables at a time together. Julie becomes attached to the zombie after he prevents her from being eaten by some of his cohorts. Eventually R sets off to both protect his love, and to potentially become something more than just another agent of destruction.

Marion is a first time novelist and has created something unlike anything I have ever read, but it is clear that this is his debut. Like many a first time novelist, many of the parallels he is trying to draw are quite obvious, for example: R[omeo] and Julie[t]. In addition, though he fleshes out many of the characters, he leaves at least one of the key players (Julie's father, General Grigio) to be a set-piece and plot device rather than a fully-formed character. On the other side of that spectrum, he manages to have Nora, Julie's best friend, be a character with several dimensions despite her relatively limited page count.

The plot is unique for the zombie genre and is, therefore, not worn out (at least not yet) and offers something new, which is quite rare for genre fiction and very refreshing. I enjoyed Marion's prose, though I would have been intrigued to see a writing style meant to match R's increasing level of eloquence and intelligence in the manner that Daniel Keyes did "Flowers for Algernon" or Alice Walker did in "The Color Purple" (though those are both written in the epistolary form and not standard first person).

In conclusion, "Warm Bodies" is a promising and enjoyable debut from Isaac Marion, and I look forward to reading what he writes in the future.
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