A reanimated zombie must fill in the pieces of his missing past in this doorstopper sequel to Warm Bodies (2011).
To recap, Marion (The New Hunger, 2015, etc.) penned a clever zom-rom-com in his previous books, set during a zombie apocalypse and starring a hunky young zombie named R. Weirdly, our boy starts to regain his humanity when he falls for Julie, a still-living survivor (after making a snack of her boyfriend, Perry Kelvin, as one does). This first of multiple planned sequels picks up immediately afterward and quickly goes off the rails. In the beginning, R is still the blank slate from the first book. “Whatever past lives return to me and whatever other names they bring, this is the one that matters,” he says. “My first life fled without a fight and left nothing behind, so I doubt it was a loss worth mourning." The living are settled into an unsteady truce with the dead, their new animations explained by a gimmicky plot device called “the Gleam.” “Every once in a while it just...happens, and the Dead get a little less dead.” Their settlement quickly comes under siege from a corporate militant group called Axiom, while other rumors spread of a religious group called the Fire Church. R, Julie, R’s buddy Marcus, and the rest of their crew escape with the help of—surprise! —Abram Kelvin, the older brother of the boyfriend whose brains R wolfed down. From there, it’s a cross-country journey to a scorched Helena, Montana; on to Detroit, where Julie frees her chained-up, zombified mother; assaulting an Axiom facility in Pittsburgh; and finally, on to New York City to face not the big bad Axiom but the inevitable cliffhanger. We do get the full back story on R’s background, although fans of the character may be disappointed by some pretty manipulative twists. Still, Marion has ambitiously expanded on his original tale, offering a dramatic amount of mythology and worldbuilding to flesh out his murky world.
An ambitious if somewhat meandering addition to one of the more successful zombie franchises.