It can be a frustrating experience seeing a great book, something that you really enjoy, be adapted into a movie poorly. Now while that might not completely be the case with Warm Bodies as the movie is bad but not terrible. It is infuriating to have to open every conversation regarding the Isaac Marion novel by explaining that it’s not “Twilight with zombies”.
It’s not the first time a great piece of zombie fiction was adapted poorly, I’m looking at World War Z. As a fan of both zombies & fresh ideas it was even more disappointing as many people just dismiss the book outright now. It’s a pity because Warm Bodies is a really fantastic story. One I urge every zombie/horror fan to read.
You can read our review of Warm Bodies here. Please note that this review of the sequel, The Burning World will contain spoilers for that story.
I really didn’t know what to expect going into The Burning World…Warm Bodies felt like a complete tale. That any expansion would run the risk of denting the impact felt by such a unique & clever story. What I could never have foreseen though was just how engrossing & satisfying The Burning World would turn out to be.
After the hope filled ending of Warm Bodies, The Burning World brings you crashing back down to reality. It slaps you in the face, laughs & says “what did you expect? R & Julie skipping hand into crowds of zombies & reversing the effects of the disease?”
No, that is not the case.
Change is happening but not as you might have expected, even R’s return from the zombie lifestyle has slowed. The problem seems to lie in his refusal to explore his past. He doesn’t want to know who he was before & his life now, with Julie, is all he cares about.
However, when he dreams….a door begins to bang. A basement door where secrets have been long buried. Whatever is inside wants out & the noise is getting louder with the arrival of a sinister company long thought buried under the ashes of the old world.
The Burning World is an ambitious tale. One that takes the localised plot of Warm Bodies & spreads it across America. We see far more of the country, far more of the devastation caused by the disease & just how widespread the problem is. The book also moves things in a forward direction thanks to the introduction of a sinister organisation that promises stability & a return to a life once forgotten.
Early on it becomes clear that they are potentially a bigger threat then the zombies are. The difference being zombies don’t smile & tell you it’s for your own good when eating you.
It’s also clear that R is linked to them in some way. Something that doesn’t resolve itself fully until the final pages. Eagle-eyed readers will spot the links early on though & by time the revelation is fully revealed will have put things together.
R’s links to the shady company are unimportant really though as the actual tale here is about revealing who he was & how he ended up a zombie. It’s a fascinating sub-plot that is drip-feed throughout as R slowly comes to terms with opening the basement door.
The Burning World is a great read, it doesn’t quite capture the imagination in quite the same way as Warm Bodies did. A lot of this is because of just how hopeless the situation feels a lot of the time. Whenever a candle is lit it is quickly snuffed out but it is still a compelling read. The book ends in a mostly satisfying way leaving plenty of room for further stories but the finale does feel a little abrupt.
If you’re a fan of Warm Bodies then you really should continue the journey with The Burning World. Isaac Marion’s zombie universe is a fascinating one & the characters are endearing.
The Burning World (Isaac Marion)