Audiobook Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

20 05 2011

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Read by Kevin Kenerly

Blackstone Audio

Genre: Zombie Romance

Quick Thoughts: A beautiful, mesmerizing tale that will delight both fans of zombies, and lovers of compelling literature. Narrator Kevin Kenerly breathes life into the lifeless with a haunting performance that will stick with you for a long time. One of the best audiobooks of the year.

Grade: A

There is a scene in George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead that has always stuck with me. A character is bitten while fighting a zombie. His pal offers him the traditional choice of a bullet to the brain. The character hesitates for a moment, the smirks, saying, “Nah, I always wanted to see how the other half lives.” Now, this of course, goes against the traditional Zombie movie response. Typically, the view is that Zombies are so inhuman, and their acts of eating humans is so despicable, that it is a kindness to blow a comrades grey matter out of their head before allowing them to turn zombie. Yet, I have always wondered, how does the other half live? Inside the zombie, is their still a touch of our soul left, a bit part that remembers what it is to be human? Beyond that, when not chasing humans or giving siege to their malls, what is the life of a zombie like. Does is experience pleasure? Does it want community? While it may be something less than human, is it something more than a brainless eating machine? When I first heard of Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, I have to admit I was a bit skeptical. Although fascinated by the concept, I was worried that the execution would be, well slapstick. Ummm… me zombie…. Eat brains… oh, pretty girt…groan…. Brains…. I heard the novel had been praised for its humor, so I was expecting some sort of lighthearted shallow comic zombie love story.

Luckily, I was quite wrong. Warm Bodies is many things, disturbing, creepy, moving, poetic, but never, ever slapstick. Isaac Marion has truly created a character in R, our Zombie hero, which transcends the zombie genre, and will stick with you for a long time. R can’t read, and can barely talk. He enjoys the simple things, groaning, riding the escalators, listening to music, and of course, eating the brains of the living which allows him to experience their memories. Yet, this outwardly simple existence is a mask for a vast and beautiful inner dialogue. When he meets the girlfriend of one of his victims, Julie, something changes inside him, leading him to save her life. At its essence this novel is about this relationship.  Yes, there are some great moments of action that you expect in a zombie apocalypse, and a surprising amount of humor, yet, all these extras just highlight the developing relationship. If you are not affected by Warm Bodies, than I can’t see how anything can affect you. For a book about the undead, you cannot help but feel the glory of life, the potential that living can bring. Conversely, there is an overwhelming darkness that has filtered through the whole world that Marion has created. In the end, the epic battle isn’t between the armies of good and evil, but in the spark of life versus the darkness of despair.

This is my first experience with Kevin Kenerly as a narrator and I was impressed. The novel relies heavily on the inner dialogue of R, and Kenerly reads it with this mesmerizing breathy quality. The narrative flows seamlessly, breathing life into the lifeless. His voices, for both the living and the not so living, merge well with the overall tone of the novel. I was especially impressed with his zombie vocalizations. Kennerly never goes over the top, but neither does he makes the zombies sound like more than they are. He finds the perfect median, allowing us to stay immersed in the tale without being dragged out by kitschy zombie moans. This marriage between writer and narrator works perfectly creating on of the best and most unique zombie tales I have experienced, and I have experienced quite a few. This novel is a winner not just for fans of zombies, but for lovers of compelling and moving literature and is one of the best audiobooks of the year.

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2 responses

15 12 2011
My Top 20 Audiobooks of 2011 « The Guilded Earlobe

[…] My Review […]

25 05 2012
My Top 10 Zombie Novels and Series « The Guilded Earlobe

[…] My Review of Warm Bodies  […]

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