Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sick of books that make YOU turn the pages. Me too. That’s why I was so pleased with this novel. In a gory and violent post-apocalypse we see the world from the point of view of a zombie that is both sentimental and confused (though in no way innocent). A zombie that is changing. A zombie that is trying.
I may have a soft spot for this book because of the thematic similarities to my own A Film About Billy (death’s endless presence, teenager’s power to feel as an important asset, etc.), but Isaac rides a more traditional arc harder and with an original beauty that is hard to insult. So I won’t.
I’ll say that what parts might have come off as cheesy didn’t because of hunks of living flesh falling from empty rib cages of skeletons. I’ll say those parts felt just right when I got to them.
If you’re squeamish I don’t know what to tell you. If not, down with death up with life—enjoy.
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A FILM ABOUT BILLY. Daniel McCloskey’s unusual hybrid of a novel and graphic novel is classified by publisher Six Gallery Press as “apocalyptic YA.” It’s a coming-of-age story with sci-fi conspiracy overtones. The narrator is Collin Heart, a semi-reclusive recent high school grad living with his grandmother in Bloomfield while editing a documentary about a friend who committed suicide … all during a mysterious global suicide epidemic. McCloskey, who founded the Cyberpunk Apocalypse writer’s co-op, here offers a world-weary voice, the writing style clean. (“While my pants soaked and froze my ass, I fished a crisp white cigarette from my pack of Douglas Lights and shoved it in my mouth.”) The comics panels, meanwhile, tell another aspect of the same story in parallel, with an expressive drawing style that ranges from straightforward if edgy to (a peek at latter pages reveals) forays into horror and the surreal. Futuristic terror and military menace loom (with satiric touches). But from among Collin’s countless hours of tape of his dead friend and sad nights in a lonely room, McCloskey constructs a mostly low-keyed thriller about lost innocence, the tenuousness of friendship and the limits of art.
The book is available for purchase at your finer Pittsburgh book stores and online at Gnarly As I Wanna Be.