*This review will contain spoilers!*
‘This is what you are and why you’re here. You are not a person. You are not even a wolf. You are nothing, and no city was ever built for you.’
It’s been a couple of years since I read ‘Warm Bodies’, so I couldn’t really remember much about it apart from the relationship between Julie and R, but I knew that I fell in love with Isaac Marion’s writing style at the time. I definitely wasn’t wrong with this recollection, because I rediscovered that love in this novella, and I really do wish that it could have been longer.
‘The New Hunger’ is just over one hundred and fifty pages, following R, Julie, and Nora on their individual journeys in the time preceding ‘Warm Bodies’. We join R just after he turns into a zombie, Julie as a twelve year old girl travelling across America with her parents looking for safety, and Nora as she attempts to protect her little brother, Addis, after they’re abandoned by their parents. Three very different stories, all written with very different voices.
R was still the strongest character, with such a unique style to his chapters and his thoughts deteriorated further to the basic command of ‘Eat’. If you’ve read ‘Warm Bodies’ (and if you haven’t, why not? It’s a stand-out in the world of apocalyptic literature, and is much better than the film adapted from it) you’ll know that R has a semblance of feeling and thought left over in his zombie form, making him able to control his actions more than the stereotypical mindless eating machines. This is developed brilliantly throughout ‘The New Hunger’, as R questions who he is now and why he can no longer recall memories or read road signs. You can’t help but feel your heartstrings pulled as R comes to the devastating realisation that he isn’t dead, but he’s also no longer alive, and begins to contemplate how he’s going to be able to deal with this.
However, where Nora seemed to be quite a minor character in ‘Warm Bodies’ (or, at least, I can hardly remember her doing anything of consequence) she was almost the main character in ‘The New Hunger’, with the majority of chapters dedicated to progressing her travels with Addis. The strength of her character was brilliantly developed – her mature ability to deal with whatever obstacles were put in their path, her logical thought processes and her unflinching dedication to keeping Addis safe were realistic and made her a stand out character.
I didn’t really think much of Julie’s story; on the one hand it was good to see her interactions with her family, but due to her only being twelve years old not much really happened in her chapters. I found it quite creepy when R was watching her through the woods – the fact that they got together a few years later made it seem almost paedophilic, as when he awoke in the woods as a zombie with what I assumed was a girlfriend or a wife, showing that there must have been a substantial age gap between them, and almost seemed worse than the fact that they end up getting together despite him being dead.
As well as loving the characters (well, the majority), I also adored Isaac’s inventive and unique description of the end of the world. As well as the rise of the dead, it’s said that there have been a lot of previous disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding) making it a veritable smorgasbord of drastic events topped off perfectly by the return of lost family members. This means that when Nora and Addis are walking through Seattle there is the gorgeous description of the land, decimated by destruction, with the sea level rising and nature taking back the world – it’s such an interesting image that you can’t help but find it morbidly beautiful.
The sequel to ‘Warm Bodies’ is being written at the moment, and I’m so excited about the release – I adore the writing so much and I just want to know what else can happen with these characters. If you enjoy zombies and you haven’t read any of these books yet, you’re making a big mistake. They’re practically flawless, and combined with the anatomical chapter headings there’s something here that will appeal to everyone.