Zombies aren't really my thing--either in books or in movies, but if something is good and creative, I'll wander outside of my favorite genres. I did enjoy Zombieland, after all. I'm pretty sure I first became aware of Warm Bodies (2011) by Isaac Marion through some Cannonball Reviews. They convinced me that the book was worth reading.
The world is falling apart, ravaged by the plague. Zombies (along with skeletal zombies) are running amok around the world. Civilization appears to be near an end. But there's a twist on this often-told tale. The story is told through the eyes of "R"--a zombie who lives among a den of other zombies at the abandoned airport. R cannot remember his name or what his life was like before he died. He has all kinds of thoughts and feelings, but he isn't able to express them. One day he goes on a "hunting' expedition and finds the beautiful Julie. Something makes him stop and he protects her, bringing her back to the airport. The story continues as Julie and R build a tentative truce, and then something of a relationship. R begins to communicate more and feel things he hasn't before. Something inside him is changing.
I really liked this one. It was well-written and original. The tone jumped between wry, black humor and the sad loneliness of isolation. I finished the book quickly, and I'm looking forward to seeing the movie. However, I did like the first part of the book better than the second half. The set up of R and his world, the unique tone and perspective were really entertaining--as were the first scenes with the interaction between R and Julie.
I lost some connection to the book and its characters when R went too deep into dreams and half living Perry's life. The action was exciting. There was a love story and two groups pitted against each other in a kill or be killed situation. But then off it went into R's dreams and Perry's past--once right after R turned someone into a zombie right in the stadium! The shit was hitting the fan and R and Julie are wandering around Perry's old bedroom. I loved the scene where R runs into the stadium looking for Julie, but whenever the book went too far into his head, I started feeling lost.
I also needed a little more understanding of what was actually happening. I could accept that eating Perry's brain would give R flashbacks of Perry's life, but did Perry's spirit inhabit R? Is that what made R start changing? Why Perry? And if so, he was kind of thrown away at the end. Because I think R was already different. I like the idea that love and understanding can heal anything, but it was all so vague that I couldn't really buy it. And what exactly happened at the end? Julie and R turned into some kind of hybrid, live zombies? I'm glad it ended the way it did, but I was a little baffled by the process.
Definitely worth reading.