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Book Review – Warm Bodies

What a massive responsibility, being a moral creature.

Warm Bodies is a post-apocalyptic novel following R, a zombie who’s so curious about existence, he basically kidnaps an undead girl and accidentally falls in love with her. 

Her eyes are classic novels and poetry.

Despite this novel being wickedly prophetic, it lost me somewhere along the way. Isaac Marion’s sweeping prose fumbled, but it fumbled beautifully, and I wish he hadn’t sacrificed so much of the momentum of the story to go so far into a profound thought. 

As a writer myself, I find my work to be a little over-indulgent at times, much like this story. But I tend to scale back, because, before all else, you want to keep your reader engaged. Literary writing is meant to be splendored, and sprinkled throughout, not ongoing. 

He had so many delicate moments, so many grand and eloquent lines, and by the end of the novel they stopped feeling like gifts, they more felt like burdens. Because suddenly every line is a beautiful line, a complex thought, an encumbered theory, and as a reader, you slip between the lines and lose yourself in the diction trying to understand one sentence after reading it for the fifteenth time, and then suddenly, you’ve forgotten what’s going on, what the big picture is, which character you’re falling in love with, which foot you’re walking on. 

It became a hassle. And it surprises me to say so, because I am a zealot when it comes to literary fiction. This… was just too much. Too much speculation. 

I felt there was a lack of direction. For the first half of the book I couldn’t figure out where the story was headed. I couldn’t figure out why I should care. I couldn’t figure out why things were happening. 

And then, at the end, I realized: the novel is basically one giant metaphor, which slightly unnerved me. 

There was, however, a feeling of reality throughout. The characters were deeply suspicious of the world, and deeply concerned with the future, and I found it to be sort of a testament to teenage spirit. Everything moves slowly in high school, like you’re a zombie. Time slips between the cracks and suddenly you’re looking back on graduation day wishing you hadn’t spent such an abundance of your youth being dead to the world. 

I stand on the steps and ascend like a soul into Heaven, that sugary dream of our childhoods, now a tasteless joke.

It’s sort of funny to relate so deeply to a character who is, in essence, dead. A character who doesn’t exist in reality. A character who is as mythic as Thor. But I did. 

The characters in this book were so like the characters living in the world these days. Untrusting of their leaders. Curious about existence. Wondering if it’s really THAT important to finish school, because after the fact, what’s really the point?

I am thinking about death. I’m thinking how brief life is compared to it.

And I think they feared oblivion. They feared not mattering. Not leaving the world in a better place than when they first came into it. It’s such a timeless tale: trying to save the world on your own. And all these characters fell into that impossible trap. 

The equations at the root of our problems were complex, and we were far too tired to solve them.

How odd to relate more to characters facing the end of the world than to character facing the normality of current existence. 

The most amazing thing about this book is R and how he couldn’t speak, but he could express himself so magnificently in his brain. It made you yearn for him, because how horrible to have to keep your deepest, and most beautiful truths so fettered to your soul. What a tragedy to not have the ability to share them with the world. 

I loved how he practically orgasmed when he heard the undead conversing, because that shows the author really tried to put himself in the head of a zombie, which is a near impossible feat, considering we don’t have any zombies. 

This is my greatest obstacle, the biggest of all the boulders littering my path. In my mind I am eloquent; I can climb intricate scaffolds of words to reach the highest cathedral ceilings and paint my thoughts. But when I open my mouth, it collapses.

Isaac Marion is a brilliant sculptor of words. I only wished he hadn’t felt such a need to sculpt every word until the flow got all bogged down by brilliant prose and each line felt heavier and heavier until you couldn’t stand to read another sentence over, you’d rather just assume it’s profound and leave it at that then get to the very root of its message. 

It was lines like this: He knows what the Dead are supposed to look like, and he can tell when something’s different, no matter how subtle, subliminal, and subcutaneous.

There is no good reason for anyone to use that many large words in an obvious alliteration, when we can understand what’s being broadcasted to us without all three. 

Because of this daring way of writing, each character sort of spoke like the other, in exception to R, because he couldn’t really speak at all. Perry sounded like Julie, who sounded like R in R’s brain, who sounded like Nora, and everyone just blended into each other. Nobody was stupid. Nobody allowed for one lackadaisical moment. I was sad to see all the characters fall into the same overburdened vocabulary.

And in the last couple pages, Isaac headhops, and suddenly we’re in Nora’s head, when we spent the entirety of the book in R’s head and were waiting until that final moment when he and Julie fell in love to live in it for a few lingering moments. But when R *SPOILER ALERT* comes back to life, you’re yanked out of his head and throw into Nora’s. And it was odd how he just decided to hop into someone else’s point of view. Odd and unnecessary. 

The scene where R and Julie kissed for the first time was really beautiful. So watch out for that, because it hits you hard, and it feels like a gift, despite all the other written gifts. 

If only he had teased us with his talents rather than tossing them around like they’re as common as shoes, or pillows, or dead grass. 

If only he had given us this moment: 

I finally drift back to sleep. I’m in the darkness. The molecules of my mind are still scattered, and I float through oily black space, trying to swipe them up like fireflies. Every time I go to sleep, I know I may never wake up. How could anyone expect to? You drop your tiny, helpless mind into a bottomless well, crossing your fingers and hoping that when you pull it out on its flimsy fishing wire it hasn’t been gnawed to bones by nameless beast below. 

*shivers*

And then made us wait pages and pages for another. 

If only. 

It’s not often I take away stars for being too good at your craft. Lol.

32/38

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