‘Warm Bodies’ has been reanimating the hearts of moviegoers across the globe since its opening on February 1st, and readers of the book by Isaac Marion have been captivated by this Zom-Rom-Com for even longer. Even before the book’s official publishing date in January 2010, the tale existed as an Internet short story called “I am a Zombie Filled With Love,” uploaded to huge accolades for making audiences sympathise with zombies, our natural enemy.
To boost excitement for the film even more, Marion released a short prequel to the series on January 28th, right before the film release, available from Zola Books. Although you can barely swing a reanimated cat these days without a new post-apocalyptic story cropping up, I can’t seem to read enough of them. Devouring various depictions of society crumbling, mobs rioting, and studying the ways our plucky protagonists stay alive may be considered an unhealthy obsession to some, and they will no doubt be the first to run out of ammo and come crying to me when the apocalypse happens.
The prequel ‘The New Hunger’ did not start at the beginning of the outbreak, to my initial dismay, but I quickly learned it was a smart move. Marion takes the fresh, optimistic approach to doomsday tales by painting a society that did not fall immediately. As terrifyingly exciting as it is to watch Rick Grimes awake from a short coma in ‘Walking Dead’ to a world completely overrun by the undead, the ‘Warm Bodies’ universe had children continuing with schooling behind fences, wealthier parts of town kept alive with electricity via solar panels, and mailmen who go above and beyond “neither snow nor rain [nor reanimated corpses]” to deliver messages from stronghold to dwindling stronghold.
What I loved so much about ‘Warm Bodies’ was its dark humor and unabashed savageness, sheepishly admitted to us from the zombie R’s first-person point of view. Upon reading ‘The New Hunger’ and discovering its third-person perspective, I was first excited to peek into the backstories of three characters — R, Nora, and Julie — but I soon realized I was missing the insight and appropriately Shakespearean soliloquies. Third-person prose gives a glimpse into each character’s emotions for their individual chapters, but I couldn’t help but feel something was lost by being unconnected to the humorous play-by-play we were privy to in ‘Warm Bodies.’
Still, fans of Marion’s raw storytelling and rich world-building won’t be disappointed by this prequel. Pair its novella length with the anxious potential for horror around every corner, and you’ve got a page-turner that fills readers with a zombie-like hunger for more. (Never fear! Marion announced on his blog that a sequel is in the works.)
I was all set to give this book the same rating of 4 / 5 atoms that I gave ‘Warm Bodies,’ with perhaps a half-an-atom deduction for not getting to giggle at R’s inner monologue, until an incident at the end sadly made me reconsider. Without spoiling anything, I will say that even with Marion’s brilliant additions to Zombie Lore, some things are simply outside my suspension of disbelief.
Fans of the movie, the first book, and zombies in general will thoroughly enjoy this morbid tale. A quick read at a great price, ‘The New Hunger’ is entertaining and hauntingly sad. I’ll forgive the hiccup at the end if Marion promises the sequel will have the somber sentiments of this novella and the dark comedy of ‘Warm Bodies’ so welcomed at the end of days.