Not only is this a zombie version of Romeo and Juliet, but it’s told through the zombie’s point of view. I had to pick this up, and it really is an interesting read. However the humor in the book is a little drier than what I’m expecting from the movie based on trailers, so if you’re looking for a comedy keep that in mind. This book has its funny moments, but I felt like its purpose was more to make you think than to make you laugh.
Some of the things I loved about this book were the tie-ins to Romeo and Juliet. They fit perfectly, and they weren’t overdone. I loved this one line Julie had, “I mean, isn’t ‘zombie’ just a silly name we came up with for a state of being we don’t understand? What’s in a name, right?” It references that classic Shakespeare line “Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet,” but at the same time is making a comment on what these zombies are.
The zombies in this book are a little different than your typical horror movie variety. They still have some level of consciousness, some like R more so than others. Everything they do is in this attempt to be human again, to have a society, but they don’t understand what any of it means anymore. This book is really more about what it means to be human than surviving a zombie apocalypse. It questions not only the meaning of life as in why does life exist, but looks at what it means to be alive, to be human. Are we all just stumbling through life like zombies, or can there be something more to this existence? I also liked that this book explained why zombies eat brains. Eating brains gives them a glimpse of human life, of memory, and they seek that out. It really fit in well with the authors overall theme. These creatures are going out and killing just for a moment where they can feel alive again, even if the memories they’re experiencing aren’t their own.
When R eats Perry’s brain he’s pulled deeper into these memories than ever before and not only is this important because it sparks the change in him, but also because it allows for some great scenes between R and Perry, some of which are quite funny, and others a little heartbreaking. I liked getting to see more of Perry’s life and found him to be just as enjoyable of a character as our Romeo and Juliet couple, R and Julie. Getting to see the interaction between R and Perry was wonderful and it added another dimension to this story that I really enjoyed.
Julie was also a wonderful character. She’s a little rebellious and a free spirit. She doesn’t let anything pull her down even with death and loss all around her. I loved how open minded she was and her taste in music. The only thing about her that I felt was a little too stretched was that she was a little too quick to forgive R for the things he’s done, like killing her boyfriend. But, I did like that she understood his killing people was just the nature of the zombie and, though he tried to, not something he could easily control.
While I loved the characters and the theme of this book, there were also a few things that I wished had been a little different. For example, there are some beautiful descriptions in this book, I found the way it was written to be fascinating, and I do enjoy the present tense. However because it’s being told through R’s point of view it felt at times as if his thoughts were a little too advanced for a zombie. I think had this book been written in the past tense this wouldn’t have bothered me as much because then it would have been R looking back.
I also wish there had been more of an emphasis on R’s transformation. I felt like the zombies were too human like to begin with. They had a rudimentary social life, and a basic society. R even gets married at one point and though I think the author was trying to make a point about life and how we just wander through it, I could have done without parts of it. I think had they had less of a society established, even with how basic it was, that R becoming human would have been more profound.
Overall this was an enjoyable read, which I definitely recommend, especially if you like a little philosophy in your stories. I’m also really excited for the movie.