Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

i'm going to try not to say "OMGLOVE" the whole time. i swear. 

title:  Warm Bodies

author: Isaac Marion

pages: 256

format: Paperback

isbn/asin: 978-1439192320

buy it: Amazon  Goodreads

rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 10/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Lovers of dark comedies, phenomenal writing, weird romances, dystopians, and the undead.  Fans of Shaun of the Dead, Chuck Palahniuk, A Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Bret Easton Ellis, or dark YA reads like The Hunger Games, Delirium, and Wither.  

'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...

the basics
Warm Bodies is by far one of the best books I've ever read.  I mean, come on.  It's like Tim Burton and Chuck Palahniuk wrote a love story.  Only don't get me wrong, Isaac Marion is no derivative.  (Also I may have a little crush on him.  What?  Hiding.)  Okay, so this book is not your average romance.  Zombie R, meet Julie.  And yes, I didn't notice the Romeo-Juliet parallel til the book.  Saw the movie?  It was great, but the book has layers and layers of depth that the movie misses.  Grappling with themes of progress and decay, cynicism and hope, despair and redemption, it pulls you into a world terrifyingly easy to imagine, where humanity's inward decay has become manifest.  Zombies.  But love saves all, and somehow, Julie and R forge a bond that overcomes the darkness around them.  It's sweet but not saccharine and bursting with writing as pretty as poetry, but still perfectly accessible to the average reader.  Don't worry; the plot kicks ass too, tearing you from one confrontation to another.  It's the book that every author wishes they could write.  So read it, yeah?  

plot . 5/5
You don't get bored, even though much of the beginning describes a vapid, listless zombie existence.  Marion has created a rich world inside of R's head.  Don't expect the movie.  You won't find a blow-by-blow.  What you will find is a lot of the same scenes fixed into a much richer narrative.  Perry's inner existence in R's head becomes much more important, and we find much of the plot centered around Perry's despair and R's hope, mixed together in one mind.  But there's plenty of fun too, and adventure; the change-hating Boneys; moments of acid humor and sweetness.  The end starts with a shock and leaves you feeling wistful and thoughtful and very much in love with love.  

concept . 5/5
I'm not sure I could have come up with a more original concept if I were trying for a parody.  I'd always joked about zombie romance in the past.  "Love at First Bite" and all that (though that might have been for a cannibal...).  But Marion takes it and makes it plausible, lovable, and meaningful.  R's condition is a foil for humanity.  Julie is the savior and young idealist.  Perry is the victim of the system.  And the world is something all too familiar--run by fear-mongerers who see isolation as the only survival.  Famous art is a useless bauble.  Nations are obsolete.  Marion uses a very compelling story to explore deep issues of societal corruption and the power of fear.  But if you don't want to dig that deep, the surface story is amazing in itself.  

characters . 5/5
Totally in love with R.  Especially the Nicholas Hoult version.  I mean...come on.  Anyway, book-R is a silent philosopher with a poetic view of the world.  He can't talk much, so he listens.  Observes.  Sees things that others can't see in a rich and surprising way.  Julie is a little annoying at times, but you grow to love her.  You can't help but get behind her fragile idealism.   And she's deeper than in the movie, with a darker past and uglier wounds.  Nora, Perry, M, and Grigio too are all explored on a deep level.  Even though we don't see them as much, we come to know them as clearly as if we were in their heads.  Marion has himself a real world here. 

style . 5/5
I could quote every other line, but I won't, because that's plagiarism.  Suffice to say, it's gorgeous.  Like what a painting would be in book form.  I'll borrow from Maggie Stiefvater's review: “I dream my necrotic cells shrugging off their lethargy, inflating and lighting up like Christmas deep in my dark core. Am I inventing all this like the beer buzz? A placebo? An optimistic illusion? Either way, I feel the flatline of my existence disrupting, forming heartbeat hills and valleys."  Don't be afraid of getting the story lost because of the poetry.  The beautiful, intricate lines are well mingled with less esoteric stuff, so the prettiness feels natural instead of overwhelming.  

mechanics . 5/5
Zombie narrator.  OMG.  

take home message
A love story between the most unlikely pair, with striking prose, a thrilling plot, and many thoughts to take away and keep forever.  

Note: I purchased this copy.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


  1. I loved this book too. I got some really good laughs out of it. And it was deeper than I expected it to be, too. :)

    1. Deep and SO funny! I was very pleased it was as good as I'd hoped.

  2. I loved the movie and I've heard the book is even better.

    I just can't believe I never put together the Romeo and Juliette thing until I saw their names in print.

    1. It is!

      Ha, I know, right? I felt like an idiot when I started reading the book. R and Julie? Ooooooh.