I decided to use this month’s column to devote to one book. I was recently given a chance to take a sneak peek at the latest zombie book, Warm Bodies, this one by newcomer Isaac Marion. At first, I was both excited and reluctant to read it. I love a good zombie story, don’t get me wrong here. It’s just that it seems the zombie wave has crested and is heading back out to sea. It all started, as far as I’m concerned, with Brian Keene’s master work, The Rising, in tandem with 28 Days Later (and the even better,28 Weeks Later). Life was good. Great new minds had picked up where George Romero left off and the horror hound public was better for it.
Then came the deluge. Over the past 3 years, it seems like every other horror movie is about zombies and there are enough awfully written undead books out there to stoke a mountain sized furnace. Granted, there are still some gems (Dead Snow, and World War Z come to mind), but I, like so many others, had grown weary and leery of the genre.
So while I was away on a quick vacation a couple of weeks ago, I decided, what the hell, let’s give this Warm Bodies a shot. If anything, it will be the gravemarker on the genre for me. Two pages in made me realize just how wrong I was.
Warm Bodies is the story of R, a zombie experiencing a sort of mid-death crisis. R lives in an abandoned jet at an airport with his zombie wife and kids. A council of older, more intelligent zombies assigned the makeshift family of the dead to him. During a raid for food (you know, the human kind) in the city, R comes across a beautiful young girl, Julie. After ripping her boyfriend to pieces, he inexplicably saves her from the sloppy zombie feast and brings her back to his home/jet.
Sounds crazy? You’re damn straight, it does. But here’s the best part. The writing is beautiful. I can honestly say, this is the first literary treatment of the zombie genre. Want to hear something even crazier? It’s a love story. That’s right, a love story between a zombie and a living girl. It may be the most poignant, heartbreaking, uplifting love story you read all year. Wow, that even looks crazy when I read it.
Isaac Marion has managed to do the impossible, breathe new, original life into the dessicated lungs of a genre that’s drying faster than Norman Bates’s mother. It’s a book about love, transformation, fear and triumph over the numbness of our souls. It’s already being made into a movie that should be out next year.
I’m giving Warm Bodies two meat clevers up and adding Isaac Marion to my Must Read list!