R is recovering from death. He’s learning how to read, how to speak, maybe even how to love. He can almost imagine a future with Julie, this girl who restarted his heart – building a new world from the ashes of the old one. And then helicopters appear on the horizon. A mysterious army is coming to restore order, to bring back the good old days of stability and control and the strong eating the weak. These grinning strangers are more than they seem. The plague has many hosts, and some are far more terrifying than the Dead.
With their home in the grip of madmen, R and Julie plunge into the wastelands of America in search of answers. But there are some answers R doesn’t want to find. A past life, an old shadow, crawling up from the basement. In this long-anticipated new chapter of the Warm Bodies series, Isaac Marion expands the scope of a powerfully simple story: a dead man’s search for life in all its bloody rawness. (synopsis courtesy Penguin Books Australia)
Unless you have been cringing in fear under a rock or hiding behind a very large pillow, it’s been almost impossible the fact that zombies, in all their shuffling (or freakishly fast – thank you World War Z for the nightmares!) undead glory, have taken over pop culture.
They’re everywhere accompanied by a narrative that usually speaks of the irreversible fall of civilisation, triggered by some great arrogantly-unrecognised flaw in humanity, a hubris moment that attracted a cataclysmically downward correction.
But what if there was a postscript to all this mayhem and death, one that didn’t involve a hardscrabble, Darwinian Lord of the Flies survival of the fittest (or the angriest) but rather one in which the undead came back to life? What would happen then?
It’s an intriguing concept and one that author Isaac Marion explored quite movingly and with great insight in Warm Bodies, later made into a film, in which R, who lives with a great many other zombies at the airport, finds himself coming back to warmblooded consciousness in the company of a human Julie.
Breaking from the usual dead is dead is dead trope that understandably dominates zombie pop culture efforts, Warm Bodies imagined a world in which the usual assumptions must be overturned and prejudices, no matter how well entrenched, must be challenged, which happens by the end of the story to some extent at least.
But of course the world is never that cut and dried, not even an apocalyptic one where if everything the usually order has been even more comprehensively turned on its head, and so the tale begged to be continued.
Enter The Burning World which neatly carries on the idea that death is kind of easy; it’s living, or in R’s case, coming back to being alive, that is really taxing.
The book, which is available now, comes with an extraordinarily well-made trailer which makes great use of Marion’s music skills – he is a musician as well as a writer – as well as his directorial talent (he co-directed with Micah Knapp), and sets the mood brilliantly for what is, by all accounts, a gripping read.