Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion, is said to be a Zombie Romance. Now, Zombie and romance are quite unusual words to have paired together when trying to describe a book so I was intrigued before opening the first page.
I had read somewhere that Marion's book is the Romeo and Juliet of the zombie world which, as a self-confessed Shakespeare geek, made me a bit sceptical. I don't really like Romeo and Juliet in all honesty so I didn't have the highest of hopes however, as I made my way through Warm Bodies, I found the book was a complete surprise.
The book is set in a post-apocalyptic world, where a Zombie epidemic has taken over the world as humans know it. It's a matter of us versus them, with zombies living in abandoned airports, and the book starts with narrator R explaining what it's like to be a zombie. I cannot credit Marion enough for his ability to capture the intricate thought-process of R, yet still have him be the epitome of the living dead. Despite his mind and body being complete contrasts, it is believable that his is a human brain trapped in a zombie body. From the beginning, we know that R is an unusual zombie.
The action kicks off when R leaves his wife and children (zombies get married and find children, of course) to go on a hunt in the city, where he comes across a group of young people hiding out. These are prime zombie food, so of course R and zombie squad go ahead and eat them but strange things begin to happen when R eats the brain of Perry and subsequently finds he wants to save Julie, Perry's girlfriend, from her zombie fate. Slowly, R gains Julie's trust and they develop a relationship whilst she hides out at the airport. Trouble starts when Julie tells R she needs to go back home; the high security stadium where her father is militant about keeping zombies out and preferably completely dead.
I like how Marion takes a while to build the relationship between Julie and R. In reality if a zombie, who was about to eat you and had just eaten your boyfriend, saved you from death and housed you until it was safe to leave you'd still be a little apprehensive of their motives. Julie is probably the most interesting character, albeit a bit predictable, except for R so it is nice to see the two characters develop a relationship and the obstacles they have to overcome. I found the story a little simple and predictable, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I liked that the story didn't focus too much on the Romeo and Juliet inspiration, and I did quite like the balcony inspired scene between R and Julie in the stadium which was clearly inspired by the iconic scene in the play/films. The book is easy to read and it does keep you gripped throughout due to the fast paced action. I have seen the film version of Warm Bodies and, surprise surprise, I much preferred the book as it goes into some aspects with a bit more thought and makes you contemplate the actions of humans.
If you like a good old fashioned love story, or you're a big zombie geek, you should probably get your hands on a copy of Warm Bodies. It's a great, feel good read and a nice take on the old fashioned Romeo and Juliet inspired stories.