Monday, May 9, 2011

"Warm Bodies"

Isaac Marion applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Warm Bodies, and reported the following:
I turn to face her. Now that the situation has settled and the blood on the floor is drying, I’m finally able to contemplate what’s happening here, and somewhere deep in my chest, my heart wheezes. I gesture toward what I assume is the “Departures” sign and give Julie a questioning look, unable to hide the hurt behind it.

Julie looks at the floor. “It’s been a few days,” she mumbles. “You said a few days.”

“Wanted to...take you home. Say goodbye.”

“What difference would it make? I have to leave. I mean I can’t stay here. You realize that, right?”

Yes. Of course I realize that.

She’s right, and I’m ridiculous.

And yet...

But what if...

I want to do something impossible. Something astounding and unheard of. I want to scrub the moss off the Space Shuttle and fly Julie to the moon and colonize it, or float a capsized cruise ship to some distant island where no one will protest us, or just harness the magic that brings me into the brains of the Living and use it to bring Julie into mine, because it’s warm in here, it’s quiet and lovely, and in here we aren’t an absurd juxtaposition, we are perfect.

She finally meets my eyes. She looks like a lost child, confused and sad. “But thanks for uh...saving me. Again.”

With great effort, I pull out of my reverie and give her a smile. “Any...time.”

She hugs me. It’s tentative at first, a little scared, and yes, a little repulsed, but then she melts into it. She rests her head against my cold neck and embraces me. Unable to believe what’s happening, I put my arms around her and just hold her.

I almost swear I can feel my heart thumping. But it must just be hers, pressed tight against my chest.
I'd say this page is about 50% representative. It captures the awkward, tentative nature of R and Julie's slowly developing relationship, the impossibility of their situation. (Julie is R's pseudo-prisoner at this point, waiting for the right moment to escape from the "city" zombies have established in an abandoned airport. Romance is the last thing on her mind.) It also captures R's whimsical inner life, the dreams and flights of fancy that make him different from his fellow corpses, who are much more pragmatic about being bloodthirsty corpses. I hope the tension established on this page would make skimmers keep reading, because what it doesn't capture is the dark side of this story. Warm Bodies is unfortunately being billed as a "paranormal romance" which would make you assume the whole book will be breathless moments like this, heaving bosoms and zombie groans of pleasure, but it's actually a lot more serious than that. There is a central love story, but it takes place amidst a struggle to reclaim a ruined world from forces of decay on both sides of the Living/Dead divide. There are battles in here. Sex and violence. Big philosophical themes. Did I mention sex and violence?
Learn more about the book and author at Isaac Marion's website and the Warm Bodies Facebook page.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue