ARC REVIEW: The Living – by Isaac Marion

Title: The Living
(Warm Bodies #3)
Author: Isaac Marion
Genre: YA, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: November 13th 2018
Publisher: Zola Books
Finished reading: November 13th 2018
Pages: 384

“It’s easier to fall than to climb, and yet against all logic, life keeps rising.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Zola Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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Before I start I have to make a confession and say that I probably would never have decided to read The Living if I would have read The Burning World before requesting a copy of this final book. Why? I was considerably underwhelmed by the sequel, and I had serious problems with the writing style. Still, part of me hoped that this final book of the Warm Bodies series would be an improvement and a satisfying conclusion to R and Julie’s story. Sadly it wasn’t meant to be. The Living follows the same structure as the sequel and even intensifies the confusing writing style and structure as the end is coming near. Once again, I felt that the story in general lacks a proper plot and that both plot and characters were mostly all over the place and running into random trouble instead of following a coherent line. As for the writing style: especially the WE chapters were frustratingly confusing and there were too many jumps and switches between past, present and the different characters to make for a coherent story. I can forgive a zombie story not being scary and the humans being the bad guys for once. This is actually quite a refreshing angle. I can forgive the romance, especially since we are spared a love triangle. But between the writing, lack of proper plot and general feeling of confusement I can’t say I had a great time reading The Living, and to be honest I was relieved when I finally reached the final page. I didn’t find the ending particularly satisfying either… All in all not exactly a positive experience unfortunately.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first two books of this series yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

R used to be a flesh-eating zombie, but now he is breathing again. But what if he was something worse before he turned that first time? He finally remembers his former life, and what he has learned terrifies him. Especially if he things how it will change how Julie sees him… R feels the only way to redemption is to destroy what he once helped create, but how to start such an impossible task? And who will help him achieve that goal?

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I was really hoping The Living would be a more positive reading experience for me, but sadly it was a repeat experience of The Burning World. The whole different stages of zombies and returning to life angle is without doubt refreshing, and the story has some interesting aspects. But between the writing style, lack of plot, confusing POV switches and WE chapters I just couldn’t enjoy this final installment. I was in fact relieved it was finally over, and that is never a good sign. If you are able to connect to the writing style though, you will probably have a significantly better experience.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #62 – The Burning World & Elevation

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two stories that ended up disappointing me unfortunately. The Warm Bodies sequel The Burning World by Isaac Marion and the ‘impossible to understand why this is horror’ Elevation by Stephen King.


Title: The Burning World
(Warm Bodies #2)
Author: Isaac Marion

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: February 2nd 2017
Publisher: Atria
Finished reading: November 6th 2018 
Pages: 512

“There’s no bigger threat to the world than people who think they can improve it. “


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I confess I actually read the first book so long ago (three years) that I confused my feelings for the first book with another zombie read. Oops? It turns out I wasn’t convinced by the first book Warm Bodies, and sadly this sequel didn’t wow me either. The first thing you have to know before you start the series is that the zombies are not actually scary and they are in fact not the real enemy. That on its own isn’t a real problem, as the idea of having different kind of zombie states is actually quite interesting and original. What I didn’t expect is just how NOT scary either book is. And of course, the romance plays a big role in the story. While I appreciate the idea of a zombie and human being together and all (you can’t deny it’s a slightly disturbing but original idea), it doesn’t lend itself for the most exciting plot. And talking about plots, I found that The Burning World in general lacks a proper plot and that both plot and characters were mostly all over the place and running into random trouble instead of following a coherent line (although things might become clearer in the final book I guess). This wasn’t the only thing I struggled with though, as more importantly I wasn’t a fan of the writing style itself. Especially the WE chapters were frustratingly confusing and there were too many jumps and switches to make for a coherent story. The story was overlong for me with its 500+ pages and I sincerely hope my experience with the final book will be better.


Title: Elevation
Author: Stephen King

Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy, Science Fiction
First published: October 30th 2018
Publisher: Scribner
Finished reading: November 8th 2018
Pages: 160

“This was the same. Not a wind, not even a high, exactly, but an elevation. A sense that you had gone beyond yourself and could go farther still.”


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I was curious when I saw a new Stephen King was coming out, and I’m sure we can all admit that cover is gorgeous. Even though Elevation is a novella and I don’t read a lot of those, I was really looking forward to reading it. The first thing that stands out for me is that I have no clue whatsoever why this novella is marked as ‘horror’. Contemporary romance with a hint of sci-fi and even a far-fetched urban fantasy… Maybe. But horror? I don’t think anyone would find Elevation scary unless you are afraid of hights or stepping on the scale. That was the first thing that went wrong for me. The second thing had to do with the characters. I know it’s only a novella, but the characters just felt like one big cliche for me and didn’t add anything interesting to the story for me. A big problem, as the story is mostly focused on them. I did like the huge focus on the running, but overall there wasn’t really that much of a plot to talk about. Just a guy losing his pounds until he is closer and closer to zero… Not horror, not thrilling at all, and mostly a cliche contemporary story on how one person’s doom can bring other people together. And mostly just a meh story for me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #14: Hide And Seek (ARC) & The New Hunger


Oh yes, it’s time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! And I’m happy to say that with today’s edition I will be finishing my last pending 2017 review; Hide And Seek by M.J. Arlidge is the (un)lucky book to win that title. No more backlog, woohoo!! It was an interesting enough thriller that can be read as a stand-alone as well. The New Hunger by Isaac Marion I finished earlier this month, a zombie novella that will hopefully make me get a copy of book number two some time this year (although I saw there is going to be a third book, so I might wait until there is more news about that one).


Title: Hide And Seek
(Helen Grace #6)
Author: M.J. Arlidge

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 8th 2016
Publisher: Berkley Books
Finished reading: October 14th 2017
Pages: 416

“In prison it is the hope that kills you, not despair.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Berkley Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***


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I kind of messed up when I requested a copy of this one, because I totally didn’t realise Hide And Seek was actually book number six of a series. Oops? Thankfully (at least for me), Hide And Seek can also be read as a stand-alone without missing too much of the background information. What I liked in this thriller is the fact that the main character is actually a cop trapped inside a prison… Call that original! Helen Grace is framed for a murder she didn’t commit and now has to survive in a prison full of enemies; more than one inside thanks to her and they are not happy. This setting and plot makes for some very interesting reading and the writing only makes it easier to emerge yourself fully in the problems Helen Grace has to face while trying to survive. And it’s not just the daily life that is challenging, because on top of that there is a killer on the loose on the inside. Hide And Seek definitely ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to a thrilling read.


Title: The New Hunger
(Warm Bodies #1.5)
Author: Isaac Marion

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Horror
First published: January 28th 2013
Publisher: Atria
Finished reading: January 17th 2018 
Pages: 170

“Nothing is permanent. Not even the end of the world.”


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I read the first book Warm Bodies ages ago (read: 2015) and wasn’t aware a sequel came out last year until recently… So I thought it was about time I picked up the novella while I wait until there is more news on book three so I can read both sequels together. The New Hunger is a prequel novella and I think I actually enjoyed it better than the first book. It might have been because of the lack of romance in this one, but The New Hunger turned out to be quite an interesting read despite the fact I’m not really into zombie stories. The writing and pace make it into a superfast read and I enjoyed reading about the background of the Warm Bodies characters and how it is to survive in this dystopian world in the first place. Get ready for a bunch of zombie attacks, dystopian scenes and characters in survival-mode when you pick up this one! Short, but sweet with a healthy dose of fresh brains.


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BOOK REVIEW: Warm Bodies – by Isaac Marion

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Title: Warm Bodies
(Warm Bodies #1)
Author: Isaac Marion
Genre: YA, Horror, Romance
First published: October 28th 2010
Finished reading: May 9th 2015
Pages: 239
Rating 3

“My friend “M” says the irony of being a zombie is that everything is funny, but you can’t smile, because your lips have rotted off.”

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I’m normally not really into stories zombies mostly because the way authors describe them doesn’t feel ‘real’. It made me a bit hesitant to pick up Warm Bodies, but I decided to read it anyway since it was recommended to me and I needed a horror read for one of my reading challenges. I like the fact that Isaac Marion uses different kind of zombies in his story, where the ‘bonies’ are different from the ‘fresh’ zombies. Still, the story in general had too much romance and too little action in it for my taste. At some points I felt I was actually reading a cheesy romance novel where the potential boyfriend just happened to be a flesh eating zombie… And that was exactly what I didn’t expect OR want to read. I was in the mood for a horror read, but I guess Warm Bodies turned out to be more like a YA romance read with a touch of dystopia… Those who enjoy the romance genre and don’t like scary books will probably love this one, but I found myself a bit disappointed.

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R is a zombie, but he doesn’t feel like the other zombies at their airport community. Sure, he attacks humans and loves eating their brains, but he craves for something more… He is not like the mindless Dead and even though he can’t remember his past, he has dreams about the future. When he attacks a bunch of kids in the city and eats one of the teenage boy’s brains, R sees all his memories. R doesn’t know why, but he decides to rescue the boy’s girlfriend Julie and take her back to the airport. R wants to protect Julie, and soon an awkward friendship is starting to develop between the zombie and the human girl. R is starting to change under her influence, but can this zombie infection really be reversed? And what do the other Dead think about having an easy snack just outside their reach?

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I really wanted Warm Bodies to be a proper horror read, but it turned out to be nowhere close to scary. I guess that and the many romance scenes are the main reasons I was disappointed by this read. Sure, the characters are interesting and R is indeed a very special zombie. Sure, the prose is easy to read and overall it’s a quick read. But it just wasn’t what I was expecting and it could have done with more action. Still, if you like romantic dystopian novels, you will most likely enjoy reading Warm Bodies.

WWW Wednesdays #38 – May 6th

wwwwednesdaysOriginally featured at Should Be Reading and now hosted by Sam at Taking On A World Of Words, WWW WEDNESDAYS is still about answering the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?

warmbodiesshiverI started reading Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion the other day and while I’m normally not really into zombie stories, this one is pretty good so far. I’m also going to start reading Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater later today, so I will cheat and count it as currently-reading as well. 😉 I have been wanting to start this series for ages so I’m excited to finally read this one.

  • What did you recently finish reading?

mrpenumbras24hourbookstorereeltorealvideostoremurdersI finished Reel To Real: The Video Store Murders by Joyce Nance yesterday and it was without doubt an interesting read. This book is based on a true story of the video store murders in Albuquerque, and the author does a great job of getting inside the head of the killer and sidekick. I also finished Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan a few days ago, a novel that turned out to be completely different than expected but I really enjoyed reading it. Full reviews of both books are still to come…

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

fallingintoplaceangelfallI decided to use my TBR jar again and it got me Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang. While I’ve been looking forward to read this one, I’m not sure I can handle another teen suicide story right now after reading The Last Time We Say Goodbye last month and using up my supply of tissues. So I will probably stick to the YA fantasy genre and read Angelfall by Susan Ee next; another series I’ve been wanting to start reading for a while now.

Teaser Tuesdays #41 – May 5th: Warm Bodies

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TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

I’ve started reading Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion the other day. I’m normally not really into books about zombies, but this one sounded like a solid read and I’ve seen various positive reviews around the book blogging community. I’m not too far into the story yet, so I can’t give my opinion yet… But I’m having high hopes for this one. Hopefully I will be able to find some time to continue reading later today!

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My teaser (39%):

“Can we just have a nice drive and forget certain things for a while? In the sunny fields of my imagination we are not a teenager and a walking corpse driving in a rainstorm. We are Frank and Ava cruising treelined country lanes while a scratchy vinyl orchestra swoons our soundtrack.”

What are you reading right now?