Zombies are disgusting. Really. Their flesh, when they have flesh, is rotting away; they stink (I would assume) and they eat brains. They eat brains. In Marion’s world, the zombies are on the verge of destroying the last vestiges of humanity. Countries no longer exist, having been wiped out by the Dead. The Living are holed up in pockets trying to survive. In the chaos of a feeding frenzy, a zombie who calls himself R comes across a Living girl named Julie and inexplicably, falls in love.
Even more inexplicably, as readers, we buy it completely. The narrative allows open access to R’s thoughts – ones that he cannot express vocally to others due to his limited capabilities as a Dead. He shares his thoughts on the spread of zombies, their current situation, how it feels to eat a brain (a far more complex experience than you might imagine), and most sweetly, his burgeoning feelings for Julie. Far from a passive Swan, Julie is an explosion; a bright streak through R’s unlife, and she comes with baggage. At times, the baggage is a little too obvious, but the payoff in her relationship with R is more than enough to overlook her sometimes plodding plot points.
Warm Bodies is the cure for dark romance fatigue – a love story played out against a dystopian background that never feels overwrought or untrue. Touches of unexpected humour (Julie compliments R’s eyes, asking if they ever change colour, like when he kills people – R’s slow response is, “I think…you’re thinking…of vampires.”) and deep darkness serve to add further depth to the story. It’s a quick read but one you’ll want to revisit.
Sidenote. Of course the movie versions of R and Julie look like this, because…you know, why not?