While there’s really no such thing as a perfect book, there are books I love. You know the ones you start and can’t put down, the ones you can’t wait to finish but dread finishing because then they’re done? That’s what Warm Bodies was like for me. I already knew the story; the film inspired me to read the book right away. I’m from the Pacific northwest and I love supporting local authors but more than that, I thought how great, a zombie story from the zombie’s point of view. It goes beyond grunts and groans and bloodlust, and while there are a few horrific things described throughout the course of the book, most of them have more to do with the living than with the undead.
You can probably infer from that last statement that the book itself is a look at society and the power (or powerlessness) of society and societal structure. You wouldn’t be wrong, making that call, but that’s just one layer of the story. It’s also a fairly blatant retelling of Romeo and Juliet, with all the expected characters firmly in place. It’s just that some of them start out dead. At heart it’s not as much a tale of romance and youthful passion as it is a story about acceptance and compassion, about the power and curiosity of the human mind and heart. The love story itself is fairly creepy, for lack of a better word. The way it comes about is both horrifying and funny, but Isaac Marion makes it work through careful finessing and some beautiful attention to characterization. All the characters are good; they’re all fully fleshed out although I hesitate to use that particular term around zombies. But it works, and the story works, and it’s ultimately sweet, funny, and satisfying.
Warm Bodies is a quick read, engaging and sweet without being cloying, romantic while carrying a pragmatic torch, and smartly political without clobbering the reader over the head. It’s a book well worth the price of admission.