Isaac Marion has truly taken undead romance to the next level. I bought this book purely because I couldn’t believe someone had tried, and apparently succeeded, in writing a zombie – human romance novel. Zombie romance isn’t entirely unheard of. Wasting Away involves a zombie romance – with two recently zombified people discovering that it is their mutual deadness that unites them against the world, but human-zombie? Really? Well Marion did it, and if you fell for Twilight you will probably fall for this too.
The film revolves primarily around ‘R’ – a zombie who remembers nothing of his former life but feels dissatisfied with undead existence. We realize that from word-go ‘R’ is not a typical zombie, thinking far more than his fellow undead: a fact which has alienated him somewhat. The book is narrated from ‘R’s perspective but I swear – ALIVE people aren’t that introspective, let alone dead ones, but I guess once you are dead there is very little else to be thinking about. If you have seen the trailer for the later made film, you will learn that ‘R’ still eats brains although feels conflicted about it, and in doing so he gains a few of the stronger memories that the victim has experienced, though only for a short time. These moments of human experience are what ‘R’ thrives on and seems to be a general zombie addiction. There are certain levels of society still present within Zombie culture – with the ‘Bonies’ running things, and small family units being established to look after zombie children – who need to be taught how to hunt and eat brains. ‘R’ ends up married to a blonde he meets on a conveyor belt and is given two children to look after. Zombie sex is briefly mentioned as two naked zombies pointlessly sort of slamming themselves into each other. ‘R’ eventually finds his wife body-slamming another man! The whore!
Our plot follows the slowly kindling romance between ‘R’ and a teenage girl called Julie who he initially kidnaps out of selfishness after having eaten her boyfriend’s brains and experienced some of his Julie-oriented memories. This sounds pretty disturbed and I guess it is, although it is written in as un-creepishly as possible. Julie comes to learn that ‘R’ is not a typical zombie and they slowly form a friendship and later an almost- romance (how romantic can you really get with someone who smells like rotting flesh?) During the novel ‘R’ slowly becomes more and more human – surprise surprise: did you really expect Julie to make out with a proper rotting corpse? We look at issues of teen angst, wanting to be loved, parental issues, friend issues, boyfriend issues, a bit of existentialism and Romance eventually saves the world. Shocker.
The book is not particularly funny – which I was surprised by after having watched the film trailer – but I suppose the whole funny thing in the trailer is being able to see the reality with ‘R’s voiceover of how he is feeling inside. The book has OK character development and insight into grief and loss, both individually and as a society. It is sort of deep and meaningful, but is primarily teen girl-porn – a romantic male who loves you, only you and risks his life to be with you etc etc, blah blah blah, but also smells like fetid meat. Basically this book does not do it for me. I imagine it is a great book for teenage girls, especially twilight fans or those who really fancy Nicholas Holt – because he stars in the film and all, although honestly I preferred the twilight books over this –I guess you get an awful lot more character development in 4 books of Twilight*. They both have the ‘girl manages to change boy from a monster into an ideal boyfriend through them loving her’ thing and all that love conquers all/ girl who thinks she is rubbish/ has been hurt/ has issues manages to find a guy who loves her and-all-that-crap stuff. Don’t read this book, unless you want to – in which case read it but don’t say I didn’t warn you!
*Disclaimer: I am not a Twilight fan – although the books are not too bad compared to the films *shudder*.