Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

 

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4/5 stars.
Read from February 25 to March 05, 2013.
Paperback, 239 pages.

Throwback review to when I read Warm Bodies. Yes, the book is exceptional and better than the movie.


Confession: This is my first zombie related novel and if the rest of the zombie plotted books are like this one, then I need to read more.

I feared for the worst with that novel; that it would be cliché and that the plot would come off as ridiculous. I mean, really? A zombie romance? I thought to myself that there was no way that this could go well but Marion, happily, proved me wrong. The plot is gruesome, elegant and highly entertaining.

R is just zombie who is tired of his zombie life. He seems to process and think a bit more than his fellow zombie comrades. After saving a young woman named Julie, things begin to drastically change for R. His dead heart seems to start to feel again. Terrified Julie doesn’t know what to make of this strange zombie that is protecting her instead of eating her but the situation makes her reevaluate the outbreak and how the small groups of remaining humans are currently dealing with the zombie situation. Both Julie and R have no idea just how much their interactions will change things forever.

Marion has given a whole new definition to the idea of zombies and I like that. Zombies are always portrayed in movies and TV as lifeless beings that have lost all touch with anything that ever made them human. The idea that there is still something worth saving is inspirational and adds a whole different dynamic to how zombies could be written and described. I think that Marion took a lot of risks writing on a genre that is so insanely popular right now. He gave it his own innovative spin and I would say that the risk has definitely paid off. I hope to see the movie now that I have finished the book.

For me, the defining points in this novel are ***SPOILER***how the zombies not only eat brains to feed themselves but to relive the memories of the person that they’re eating because it makes them feel, well, alive. The integration of Perry’s thoughts and memories with R’s and how deeply he was affected by them (and ultimately how it changed him) ***END SPOILER*** were really well done and were some of my favourite chapters in this novel. Also, Marion answered some of the questions that other zombie works skim over: he went into detail about how the zombies collaborated, how their bodies and brains worked and that they were capable of thought.

The scene that shook me the most in this novel has to be ***SPOILER*** near the end when Julie and R are trying to revolutionize change; the last encounter that they have with Juile’s dad… when he just gave up after seeing Julie side with R and then just let that lead Boney devour him without fighting back. The emotional states of all the characters were so well described and detailed that I believed this is how a zombie invasion would actually feel like. It was heart wrenching to envision this scene. Juile, losing both of her parents because they inevitably gave up and could not go on after fighting for this long against all odds. Julie’s resilience and push to strive for more and keep hope was impressive all considering what humanity and herself had faced. Her hope outlasted in the end to bring around a cure with the help of R ***END SPOILER***. ***ADDITION*** Having now seen the movie, I was both relieved and disappointed that they changed this ending with film.***

Marion does have a prequel to this novel which focuses on Julie, Perry and Nora’s story and I’m currently trying to get my hands on a copy. It’s called The New Hunger.

I would highly recommend this novel for anyone looking for something different.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

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3/5 stars.
ebook, 426 pages.
Read from March 30 to April 24, 2013.

Throwback review!


I would like to start off by saying that I came to this novel fully expecting it to be nothing like Harry Potter and was prepared for what I was going to be reading. Having said that I didn’t really enjoy it but I did change my rating to slightly more positive. This book follows the very personal lives of the people who live in the town of Pagford. It reflects how all of their lives interconnect through scandal and personal mishaps. Right after after I finished reading it I was just so appalled with how tragic and awful the characters and story line were! However after giving it some time I can somewhat understand Rowling’s approach. I believe she wanted to depict the masks that we all wear as individuals, the personal struggles that everyone has but hides and what sort of freedom we can have by shedding these facades. I also think that the story is also a statement about selflessness and authentically connecting with others, which can’t be accomplished if you are not honest with yourself. I feel that Fats summarized the novel perfectly:

“The mistake ninety-nine percent of humanity made, as far as Fats could see, was being ashamed of what they were, lying about it, trying to be somebody else. Honesty was Fats’ currency, his weapon and defense. It frightened people when you were honest; it shocked them. Other people, Fats had discovered, were mired in embarrassment and pretense, terrified that their truths might leak out, but Fats was attracted by rawness, by everything that was ugly but honest, by the dirty things about which the likes of his father felt humiliated and disgusted. Fats thought a lot about messiahs and pariahs; about men labeled mad or criminal; noble misfits shunned by the sleepy masses.”

Having said that I don’t know if Fats fulfilled his philosophy as he suffered the most near the books end. The teenagers in the book were truly the largest victims as they had their parent’s baggage, politics and facades thrown upon them making it impossible for them to be authentic to themselves. Krystal being the largest victim.

What drove me mad about this novel was how much I disliked most of the characters. Their actions and thoughts were just so despicable and negative making it hard to want to pursue the story because ultimately I didn’t care about these shallow individuals whose lives were solely based on small town politics. There were very few characters with redeeming qualities that I cared about, exceptions being Krystal and Barry. Obviously what I know about Barry is all third-party but I believe that these two characters were the only ones that were able to step outside of their own ego and care about someone else. For Barry, he saw something in Krystal and wanted to do what he could to bring her out of the awful slum she was living in. For Krystal, she would do anything for her brother Robbie. However, they still both had their faults. ***SPOILER*** Barry neglected his family and his stressful lifestyle lead to his death. Krystal believed, after Barry’s death, that by having a baby she could escape the life she was living with her drug addict mother and by pursuing this sort of selfishness with Fats she lost the one thing she fought so hard to protect, her brother and in the end her life ***END SPOILER***.

What I did appreciate about the end is that everyone was shown for what and who they were. ***SPOILER*** I think I gained the most satisfaction when Kay finally ditched Gavin. I think I despised him the most out of all of the characters. He was down right selfish and cruel to Kay by staying with her. In the end I suppose he showed his humanity like the other characters but I felt little sympathy for him when both Mary and Kay rejected him ***END SPOILER***.

Overall, I wouldn’t deter people from reading the book by any means but I wouldn’t read it if you’re feeling down in the dumps or have a hate on against the world as it won’t do much to restore your mood or faith in humanity

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

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4/5 stars.
ebook, 272 pages.
Read from April 10 to 18, 2015.

I have successfully read all 3 of Gillian Flynn’s popular novels. At then end of this review I will rank the three of them based on which of the three I like best.

Camille is a small time reporter in Chicago, with the hopes of hitting it big time. She is ambitious, blunt and abrasive, all great qualities for a reporter. However, she throws herself into work and into drink to stop from reminding herself of her estranged childhood and trauma. You start notice that Camille is plagued with scars of self-mutilation and her body is covered in words that she has carved into her own body. This behavior began in her teenage years and while she has since stopped cutting, she begins to reminisce when she is asked to report on the murders of some children back in her hometown, Wind Gap, a place she hasn’t been back to visit in eight years.  When Camille was a preteen, she lost her sister Marion, to a strange illness. Marion was her mother’s favorite and Camille never received the same attention or love the way her sister did. If anything, her mother had more disdain for her in that she wasn’t a feminine and and well-to-do little girl like Marion. Camille was always headstrong and never did what she was told and perhaps some of her mother’s disdain for her came from the fact that her father did not stick around. Her mother, Adora, is cold, proper, re-married and still living in the Victorian home that Camille grew up in. Camille’s mother has another child in her new marriage to dote on, Camille’s half-sister Amma, who is only thirteen. Amma seems to be the doting daughter that Amma always wanted but she is a vicious but smart young girl.  At least, Camille and Amma have one thing in common, they are both always living in the shadow of the dead Marion. Wind Gap is the type of town Camille was always anxious to get out of, a town where everyone knows everyone’s business and relationships are superficial so returning home, even temporarily was exceptionally difficult for Camille.

Camille learns that two young girls went missing and were found murdered, but something doesn’t quite add up as both of the young victims had all of their teeth removed and were unmolested.   She is able to get some extra information by liaising with a young and good looking FBI agent, Richard. Slowly, Camille starts to open herself up and begins a sexual relationship with Richard, however always fearing that he will reject her for her scars, she also starts to get quite close to Amma. This closeness unfortunately is going to blow the whole murder case wide open and Camille will learn things that she wished she had not.

It was Camille that made this novel for me. While I’ve never self-mutilated I felt drawn in to her scars and her desire to cover them and hide. It reminded me of my worst years with dermatillomania.  I just felt like I completely understood Camille and could relate to her entirely regardless of our different circumstances. I liked her tough approach to her life and even how she dealt with it. I appreciated that she had vulnerable moments in the book despite her facade. What Camille has lived through, what she has done to herself and what her family continues to do her to her is beyond tragic. She is not a typical protagonist by any means and I love her for it. I imagine that this novel made some people uncomfortable with its content. Here is Camille who is clearly a traumatized adult and hides nothing  from the reader in terms of her desire to cut words into herself, then Amma’s behavior is pretty hard to stomach at times,  let alone the way the two young girls in this small town were murdered, which, is why I love this plot. It’s unwholesome, brutal and honest. Flynn is never afraid to shed light into the darker areas of life and show that not all stories have a happy endings.

Alright, in terms of Flynn’s novels, here is how I would rank them:

1) Dark Places

2) Sharp Objects

3) Gone Girl 

I’ll just say this, it’s apparent that Gone Girl  was the favourite for most people, it was also the one made into a movie,  perhaps because more people felt they could relate to the crazy spouse?  I do know know that the other two books are a lot darker. Personally, I feel that Gone Girl is lacking. I appreciate the wit it took to create the plot but I felt it didn’t have the same dark and mysterious appeal as the other two novels. I mean, the crazy spouse thing has been in a lot of mystery novels, though not quite the same way Flynn does it, so I can appreciate that, but I just found that I never came to like the main characters in Gone Girl. I remember not initially liking Libby in Dark Places but I found as a reader, I grew with her through the story. Libby didn’t even like herself in the beginning as the only thing she defined herself by was the horrible murders that happened to her family. I was hoping that I would eventually come to like the couple in Gone Girl and I never did so inevitably I didn’t care what happened to these awful people, regardless of the twisted circumstances they found themselves in. Sharp Objects brought back the same obscure darkness I came to love in Dark Places.