Monday, March 21, 2011

Still Life with Sunset & Nebraska. Also, 10 Reasons to Read WARM BODIES

I have to apologize for being missing in action for the last week. From Monday through Thursday, I was in Nebraska doing school and library visits, and from Friday through yesterday, I was in New York City eating pastries. Also meeting readers. But mostly eating pastries.

I know all of you non-Nebraskans have been dying to see what Nebraska looks like. Well, because Grand Island, Nebraska was three hours away from Omaha where I landed, I had plenty of opportunities to check it out. Here, I took some photos for you.

1 Hour Away from Omaha

Nebraska, March

2 Hours Away from Omaha

Nebraska, March

3 Hours Away from Omaha

Nebraska, March

Do you see that 75 MPH speed limit sign? Oh, Nebraska, how I love thee.

Now, to cover up nicely for my blogging absence, I'm going to post a review of a book that I loved beyond all reason. Normally it takes me forever to find a book that I love this much, and y'all will recall that I just read SHIP BREAKER, which I also adored. I must just be very lucky with my book choices this spring. So, without further ado (and with some apologies, because it doesn't come out until April):

Warm BodiesWarm Bodies by Isaac Marion

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ten Reasons to Read WARM BODIES

1. It is a zombie book. But not like that. In the spirit of honesty, I had this book as an advanced review copy for literally months before I picked it up. It had glowing reviews from Stephanie Meyer, so I figured it couldn’t be that gross, and a glowing quote from Audrey Niffeneggar, so I figured it had to be well-written. But . . . zombies. Hopeless gore. I have a pretty strict disinterest in zombies that I break only for Carrie Ryan’s books. I’m not going to tell you this isn’t a zombie book, because it is -- there is brain eating and arms falling off and shotguns and gray matter and OMG WHAT ARE WE GOING TO EAT FOR DINNER - YOU!? and all the traditional zombie nihilism. But I will tell you this: it doesn’t feel like a zombie book.

2. R, the narrator. What really makes this book not feel like a zombie book is that it’s told from R’s point of view -- and he’s a zombie. It’s not glorified or toned down, but R makes the book different because he’s different. Somewhere in the core of his zombie brain, there’s a bit of R left, and watching that struggle against the delightfully metaphorical zombiesm is just . . . lovely and agonizing. In a good way.

3. Did I mention metaphor? Well, let me do it again. The metaphor that the zombies stand for is not deeply hidden in WARM BODIES, and it’s equal parts lesson and warning. It also happens to be something I deeply, deeply believe in. I don’t want to say it’s about self actualization, because who even knows what that means outside of a Meg Ryan movie. It’s about living life to the fullest and feeling everything you can and not being afraid. Maybe that does sound a little like a Meg Ryan movie.

4. It’s short. It’s not that I don’t like long books -- I love ‘em. But there was something very satisfying about reading this perfectly paced slender novel in three or four hours. It makes me think I’m going to do it again.

5. The book begins with R saving a girl -- Julie -- from certain death from both himself and other zombies. Oh how easy it would be for this to descend into pure cheesiness. How easy it would be for them to stop being real people. How easy it would be for Julie to be a construct instead of a real girl worth saving. But Isaac Marion veers away from all that. If at some points R becomes dangerously sentimental, it’s noted with a wry smile. It’s all rather delightful at some points. There’s one scene that’s sort of . . . Wall-E with dead people.

6. R’s so nice. No, really. He’s like . . . nice. If he wasn’t dead, I’d be all, what a nice boy you are, playing Sinatra for your girlfriend.

7. Pretty prose bonus round! “I dream my necrotic cells shrugging off their lethargy, inflating and lighting up like Christmas deep in my dark core. Am I inventing all this like the beer buzz? A placebo? An optimistic illusion? Either way, I feel the flatline of my existence disrupting, forming heartbeat hills and valleys."

8. There’s a Mercedes convertible in it. As if we even NEED reasons 1-7 or 9-10 anymore.

9. No, really, really, it does not read like a zombie book. Your mom would read it. Probably. Well, it really depends on your mom. Back up. Have I steered you wrong before? No. No, I haven’t.

10. You’ve been looking for a book where you finish it with a smile on your face, haven’t you? I know it. Well, this is it.

View all my reviews
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