‘R’ is a zombie. He has no name, no memories, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.
Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows – warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can’t understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins.
This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won’t be changed without a fight…
I’ll just be honest: I did not think Warm Bodies was a good book. I was not expecting it to be fantastic, but I definitely wasn’t expecting it to be as bad as it was. It wasn’t terrible – if it was truly terrible I wouldn’t have finished it – but rather ridiculous. To damn it with faint praise, I will say that it was entertaining. By which I mean I sometimes laughed at it (but not with it).
Warm Bodies is the story of R. R is a zombie who somehow is aware that he is a zombie, and hangs around a disused airport with all his zombie friends, where they attempt to converse, teach the young ones how to be zombies, get married and apparently have sex – or something vaguely resembling sex. They share the airport with some things called the Boneys, which are never sufficiently described or explained. (They are described as skeletons but also as having skin, and they emit a strange humming noise.) The character of R has been described by Audrey Niffenegger as a ‘thinking woman’s zombie’, and this comes across in little details like his references to Kerouac, Pollock and Tesla. Annoyingly, even though R is aware that he is Dead, and able to remember what a Tesla coil is, he doesn’t know what happened to the world and so the reader never really finds out.
In keeping with R being a higher class of zombie than the rest, he doesn’t like eating people, but since needs must, he and his zombie cronies head out into the city in search of food. During this ambush, R eats a young man’s brain and then steals his girlfriend, Julie, and takes her back to the airport to live with him. There is lots of unengaging action and cheesy monologues, and the novel ends with R kissing Julie but somehow willing himself not to infect her and, in doing so, saving the world and all of mankind. There is also an annoying Romeo and Juliet theme going on in there but I largely chose to ignore it.
The reason I have given Warm Bodies two stars rather than one is because it was actually good fun to read, despite how ridiculous it was. I would definitely recommend it to a reader who can deal with the idea of the ‘thinking woman’s zombie’, or who likes their zombie story to also be a love story.
I was kindly granted access to a Kindle version of this book on NetGalley.com.