Book reviews, new books, publishing news, book giveaways, and author interviews

Book Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion Book Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Ive always said to my husband that if I ever degenerate to a state where Im no longer self-aware, or where my dignity no longer remains, then its time to pull the plug on my life. After all, what kind of life would it be when Im no longer me? Would I even truly be living?

Isaac Marions'Warm Bodies is a book that explores the notion of what it means to be alive, but in the most unexpected of ways: its a book that examines life, in particular the notion and value of a human life, through the lens of death.

Our protagonist and surprisingly eloquent narrator is R, a chap who enjoys listening to Frank Sinatra, getting about in snappy smart casual clothing, and eating peoples brains. R may be incapable of articulating more than a few syllables at a time, and perhaps enjoys riding the escalators at the airport a tad too much, but his internal world is one of Proustian grandiloquence, and much of Rs time is spent reflecting on the existence and purpose of his zombie community.

And indeed its not merely a community, but a culture of its own, with a (pidgin) language, political structure, and even sophisticated social norms relating to eating, romantic engagement, and even the raising of children. Its a culture that though seen by the living as something purely destructive and pestilential, is actually impressively creative and purposeful. Beyond the immediate need to survive, Rs zombie peers offer universal education to their youngsters, construct buildings and shelters, and even participate in rituals and rites such as marriage. Not too shabby for a bunch of shambling brain-munchers. (Still, I rather wish Marion had spared his readers the details of zombie sex.)

But like any culture, Rs has a thing for seeking spiritual transcendence or enlightenment, a mental and emotional escapism thats found primarily through the devouring as brains (hey, at least its all natural). R, out hunting with some of his clan one night, happens across a particularly potent brain that precipitates in R something rather like a bad acid trip, or at least its bad from the perspective of his zombie fellows. Rs brain tab, however, has done two things: its caused him to immediately become smitten with the non-zombie Julie, and its created in him a new-found sense of agency, causing him to wonder whether zombie-ism might not simply be the result of a severe case of deficit thinking.

I should probably note here that although the book begins with something along the lines of zombies at Woodstock, the rest is ripped from the arms of the great Bard himself, and is largely a retelling of'Romeo and Juliet'against a context of Montagueian zombies and Capuletian fleshies. After all, what greater barrier is there to love than that of life itself?'Although the book does, in a way, retrace the tragic footsteps of those famous starcrossed lovers, Marion offers a cleverly and somewhat humorously subverted version of events that is surprisingly optimistic.

But'Warm Bodies is that kind of book. Its a book that should be offputting and alienating, as truly, is there anything less appealing than a decaying lover (and indeed, a decaying lover with British teeth. Good grief)? But instead, its somehow affirming, and welcomingly self-deprecating: theres a good deal of humour in these pages, and the book is stronger for it. R happily communicates through the Beatles and Sinatra while his living counterparts mourn the loss of the arts in the face of their need to survive.

The book thus merrily'pits the fearful humans against their zombie counterparts in not just a physical battle, but an existential one, too, asking throughout where the dividing marker between human and not human should sit, as well as that between living and not living. And perhaps its not so surprising when so many of the living humans are relieved when the plug is pulled on their own lives.

Warm Bodies is not a subtle book, but then zombies arent exactly known for their propriety and indirectness. There are regular sections throughout where Marion cheats by breaking his first person narration, bringing in flashbacks and editable memories in order to allow the book to achieve a scope not otherwise possible, and bringing in the articulate human characters feels like a contrived way to speed up the narrative, but overall this is a wonderful readeven if I am still rather averse to the idea of kissing a zombie.

Rating: star Book Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marionstar Book Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marionstar Book Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marionstar Book Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marionblankstar Book Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (excellent)'

Support Read in a Single Sitting by purchasing'Warm Bodies from

Amazon | Book Depository UK | Book Depository USA | Booktopia | The Nile

Warm Bodies appears on our list of books about zombies

The'Warm Bodies trailer:

pixel Book Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion


  1. Just finished listening to the audio of The Reapers Are the Angels, and dont know if Im ready for another zombie novel right away. I read one from the point of view of a zombie already, though (Brains: A Zombie Memoir) so I may want to see how they compare.

  2. Stephanie /

    This one has a similar vibe to The Reapers Are the Angels: its quite literary in tone. If youre a little worn out after that, you might want a break before attempting this one. Id be curious to read Brains: A Zombie Memoir, though!

  3. Ive been curious about this one since hearing about the movie. I wasnt convinced how a zombie romance could work and still not sure but youve made it sound definitely worth a read. Great review!

    • Stephanie /

      To be honest, I found the romance element of this one the weakest bit of the bookI still dont quite buy the falling in love with a dead guy thing. What I most enjoyed about it was the examination of the social factors and the exploration of what makes us human/alive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge

Add us to your Google reader: Add to Google

Follow us on Blog Lovin' Follow on Bloglovin


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers