Moonlight Masquerade

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Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Posted by Jake Chism On July - 20 - 2011

Genre: Romance, Horror, Suspense

Publisher: Atria

Publication Date: April 2011

Jake Chism’s Review:

R is a zombie, but R is so much more. He certainly looks the part with his trademark gait and rotting flesh.  Sure he loves to munch on human brains as much as the next dead guy, but something is changing inside. He just met this human girl named Julie on a hunting raid and instead of eating her, he’s decided to save her life and hide her from his friends. In this post apocalyptic world where zombies prey on human survivors, this is certainly a no-no. But R can’t help himself. Julie is causing him to do something he didn’t know he was capable of doing: to feel.   For the first time in his death R has found a reason to live.

The plot summary above does no justice to Isaac Marion’s breathtaking debut. Neither do the “zombie love story” nor “zombie Romeo and Juliet” monikers others have given it. Like its main character, R, Warm Bodies is so much more than what we see on the surface.

The story is told in the first person from R’s POV and (I can’t believe I’m saying this) I’d place this first person narration on the level of Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas. Marion writes like a seasoned pro, making this the kind of story that will send aspiring novelists and veterans alike into fits of jealous rage. Not only is this Isaac Marion’s debut, but he sold the movie rights before the book was even written, much less published. Yeah, the kind of stuff that only happens in publishing fantasy land, but nevertheless the final product is more than worthy of the hype.

Marion infuses the well balanced plot with beautiful themes of compassion, creativity, and humility. R’s “courting” of Julie is beautiful to behold, leaving us with countless scenes that will sear in your mind long after reading. For example, I will never forget R’s Frank Sinatra record skipping serenade that is nothing short of literary genius.

Fans of the zombie mythology will find plenty here to satisfy, but Marion deftly avoids the pitfalls of gratuitousness and overindulgence that one might expect in a zombie tale. There’s more than enough gore, violence, adult content, and language here to warn sensitive readers, but the journey is more than worth it for readers who long to be moved by their fiction.

To say much more would run the risk of spoiling a truly phenomenal reading experience. Suffice it to say that this “Romeo and Juliet Zombie Love Story” that you may or may not have heard so much about is definitely worthy of the buzz. Isaac Marion is a name to watch and one I hope we have not heard the last of.

Lori Twichell’s Review:

Hold on to your socks here folks. This is a different kind of review for a very different kind of book. (Yes it has a cover, title, pages with words strung together into sentences…like most other books. And it even has an amazing romantic love story in it. But that’s where everything that you might recognize in a book stops.) This book is about dead people. Fleshies. That’s a zombie that you can’t really tell is dead because they still have flesh on their bones. And yes, if you connect those sentences that makes this a zombie love story. No, really.

BUT BEFORE YOU LAUGH AND MOVE ON…WAIT. This is one of the most amazing, beautiful and gorgeously written stories that I have ever read.  I do not say that lightly. I was immediately drawn into this story and couldn’t stop myself from reading even though it took me into very late night hours.

Let me fill you in briefly on the story itself. The main character, R, is a zombie. The book is written from his perspective and even though we know a lot about his daily life and we can guess some things about what life was like ‘before’ we still don’t know much. What we do know is that he knows he’s dead but he doesn’t know how he became a zombie. He’s well dressed and well preserved. We also know that he longs for more. He wants more than to just eat brains every now and then to live again. (Brains cause a reaction in zombies that allow them to re-live the lives of the owner.) He understands the dilemma of killing people to survive. He wants more. And then he eats the brain of Perry and it changes everything for him.

This book was not a book I wanted to read. When we got the standard email with the trailer, I saw zombie love story and blinked out. (Probably like a lot of people reading this review have.) I sent it off to Jake and asked if he was interested and I was shocked when he wrote back an enthusiastic YES! I thought he was kidding but then I went and watched the book’s trailer.  Here. Check it out for yourself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBv7cC_qU30 I was immediately interested. Some of my favorite authors were endorsers of this book.

And then I got the book in the mail and found it to be so much more than what ‘zombie love story’ would make you think. With entire passages devoted to what existence is supposed to mean versus what it actually does mean – all from the mind of a zombie, it’s more difficult to dismiss this book.

Even if you aren’t a fan of the zombie genre, this book will engage you in ways you never imagined. It’s sharp and witty with syllable counting dialogue that will stick with you long after you’ve read it. It’s revolutionary, beautiful and engaging in brilliantly imagined ways. This book has settled firmly onto my favorites of 2011 and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Do not miss this book. You’ll be glad you took the time for it.

Don’t miss our interview with Isaac Marion. 

Review copies provided by publisher.