Warm Bodies - Isaac Marion At its heart, Warm Bodies is a "zombie book" because it's a book about zombies, but it's definitely not your classic post-apocalyptic survivalist adventure involving gory battles with the brain-eating hordes. This sets the story apart and makes it original, but it also helped that I went in knowing what to expect.

The zombies themselves also aren't very typical. On the surface, they appear to be of the usual shambling, moaning and in various-stages-of-decay variety, but the ones in this book are able to maintain a semblance of a structured society. Communication between them is just good enough to allow things like organized hunts or a rudimentary class system, and zombie couples even have wedding ceremonies and are given zombie children to teach and raise.

The book also gives a plausible reason as to why zombies like eating human brains, explaining that it gives them a cerebral high while letting them relive the memories and experience the emotions of their victims. It is in this way that R, our zombie protagonist and narrator, becomes fixated with a girl he encounters on a routine hunt, after killing her boyfriend and chowing down on his grey matter.

In a way, the style and writing reminds me books I've read in the past where the story is told in the point-of-view of a dog or any other kind of animal. In each case the author has to find a convincing way to explain to the reader why their narrator is obviously intelligent and eloquent enough to tell a story, but can't express that outwardly. R, for example, can think and wax philosophical with the best of them in his head, but can't manage to put together more than a couple words or a handful of syllables when he tries to speak.

A persistent need to expound upon this dissonance is very characteristic of these types of books, so the first step on the path to enjoying myself was being able to accept anything and everything the story throws at me. However, a process like that generally takes time, and the fact this book is so short and proceeds at such a break-neck pace probably wasn't the most ideal for me personally, but I could just be a stickler for the details.

If I could do it all over again, though, I would not have chosen the audiobook. My current rating probably wouldn't have changed much even if I had read the text version, because the story, while fun and interesting, was still a bit melodramatic and too cheesy for my tastes. Still, I can't help but suspect listening to the audio version played a part in preventing my full enjoyment of the novel, though I have to admit it's not through any fault of the audiobook production company or voice actor. In fact, Kevin Kenerly was very good.

Unfortunately, the nature of Warm Bodies just simply does not lend itself to be converted that well into voice format, mostly due to the amount of internal dialogue, random and sudden interruptions or changes of perspective, as well as memories and flashbacks galore. This works well on the page, but makes the story hard to follow if you're listening to it, for obvious reasons. I snapped this version up from my county library's digital collection because there was no one else on the waiting list, but I kind of wish I had been a little more patient and waited for the ebook version. The experience might have been vastly different.

But in the end, it was the story that didn't quite grab me. Despite the naughty language and several detailed scenes of gory violence, this is a young adult novel...and for me reads "too much" like a young adult novel. Aside from the underlying angsty vibes, I just felt that it tried a bit too hard to be profound with its pages and pages of R trying to figure out hope, life, love. Don't get me wrong, I think the novel does a great job of asking the question what it truly means to be alive, but there's nothing all that revelational despite the frequently over-the-top prose.

Ultimately, this book might be better for a fan of YA romance than for the die-hard zombie reader. Like I said, I knew what I was getting into before I started the book, but a part of me had still hoped for a little more action and a little less Romeo and Juliet references.

Originally posted at The BiblioSanctum.