Warm Bodies 2 was in the works for a long time, and the wait was worth it. Here’s our review of the book and what we know about the movie or TV adaptation!
The highly-anticipated Warm Bodies sequel and threequel were welcome additions to Isaac Marion’s zombie world. The author had made no secret of the fact that working on the two books was killing him, but his hard work yielded two excellent follow-ups.
‘Warm Bodies 2’ movie release date information
Let’s get an important question out of the way first: Is there a Warm Bodies 2 movie in the works? The short answer is… Maybe. We reportedly previously that Warm Bodies’ film producers were very interested in adapting Marion’s sequel, so don’t be surprised if you hear about those plans in the future.
Update (May 2019): More from the world of Warm Bodies is on the way! Film director Jonathan Levine is currently developing a Warm Bodies TV series, according to The Hollywood Reporter. We do not know if this will be based on The Burning World and The Living, or if this is a remake of the original book/movie.
According to author Isaac Marion, we should expect new details about the TV show soon:
If you’re wondering why the announcement of the Warm Bodies TV series seemed oddly quiet, buried in an article about production companies, it’s because that was apparently a leak. The real announcement should come soon, with more details and more 🎉
— Isaac Marion (@isaacinspace) May 2, 2019
No other information is unavailable at this time, but needless to say, we’ll be keeping an eye on developments.
In 2014, Warm Bodies producer Bruna Papandrea told a website called Badass Digest that she wants Warm Bodies director Jonathan Levine to adapt the sequel. “Papandrea told me they hope to get Jonathan Levine back to write the sequel, but she doesn’t seem so sure he would direct,” they wrote. “The impression that I got wasn’t that he isn’t wanted back, but rather that he might not be interested in returning as a director.”
The first Warm Bodies movie, which was released in 2013 and starred Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer, was a big hit. Not only did it receive a warm reception from critics and fans, but the film grossed $116 million worldwide. Not bad for a small book-to-film adaption with a $35 million budget!
Marion published two books following the events of Warm Bodies: The Burning World (published in 2017) and The Living (published in 2018). Below are our reviews of both books!
‘The Burning World’ (Warm Bodies 2) review
Warm Bodies didn’t necessarily end with a cliff-hanger or a “happily ever after,” but there was always a sort of implication that R and co.’s story went on. That all of the people (zombie or otherwise) we had been following around and getting to know for 250-ish pages had more obstacles to face in the future but that, for the moment, they’d be alright. A sequel was never something that was truly necessary.
But then Isaac Marion published The New Hunger, a prequel novella to Warm Bodies that gave us glimpses into the lives of our favorite characters in the early days of the plague. It was at that point where I realized that I not only wanted a Warm Bodies sequel, but that I needed one. I needed to know how the characters’ pasts would affect their futures. How they would all mesh and live together after the danger of the plague started to abate.
The Burning Worldis both the sequel I wanted and the sequel I needed.
With the character-building Marion does in A New Hunger (which is a must-read before you dig into The Burning World, by the way), The Burning World is free to start exploring the implications of those pasts without needing to spend time over-explaining them again.
And boy, do all the characters’ pasts really come into play. For a sizable portion of Warm Bodies, R kept repeating how he didn’t care about his past and that he’s choosing the life and identity he’s living now that he’s met Julie. In the context of that novel, that was okay. But once The Burning World begins, it becomes obvious that that can’t happen. That for R to try to ignore his past is not only ridiculous but also dangerous.
In The Burning World, each character’s past (not just R’s) affects and even threatens the present. Julie, Nora, M, R, and even a few already deceased characters’ pasts rise from the ashes of the plague to stir up trouble and introduce new hardships. The experience of The Burning World is sort of like going back to Warm Bodies and The New Hunger and seeing different cracks and important details that you never knew to look for. It’s fascinating.
Another fascinating (while also eerie) aspect of The Burning World is the way in which it connects with current events in the real world. It’s frighteningly timely and relevant. There are a few passages sprinkled throughout the book that hit incredibly hard because they could be used to describe the world at this very moment. Though Marion finished this novel a few years ago (before the world became what it is now), these similarities to the real world make the atmosphere of the fictional world that much more compelling and the story more intense.
In terms of plot, The Burning World is very much a sort of adventure/”on the road” story that expertly weaves the personal character struggles with a much broader view and exploration of the plagued world. So while the characters are traveling from one coast to another and discussing the broader implications of the plague on the world (and not just the United States), their pasts stop them in their tracks at every turn. It’s almost like the characters are taking a “greatest hits” roadtrip of important places and people of their past.
Speaking of characters, all of the still living main characters (and a few important supporting characters) from Warm Bodies return in The Burning World. Not only do they return but all of the characters gets a good amount of attention, not just Julie an R. In addition to the characters we already know and love, Isaac Marion introduces quite a few new and interesting characters that really expand the world and add nuance. These new characters fit seamlessly into the story and into the pre-existing relationships from the moment they’re introduced.
Isaac Marion’s The Burning World is more than worth the years-long wait. It’s equal parts heartwarming, thrilling, and mysterious. Fans of Warm Bodies (the book or the movie) won’t be able to put down this installment. Beautifully written and expertly crafted, The Burning World is Isaac Marion’s best work yet. I, for one, can’t wait for the final installment, The Living.
‘The Living’ book review
The Living is the well-earned ending the Warm Bodies story deserves.
Some think they know how R and Julie’s story ends after just reading (or watching) Warm Bodies, but they couldn’t be more wrong. It’s The Living, the final book in the series, and not Warm Bodies that brings their epic tale to a beautiful and fitting end. Our review of the second Warm Bodies breaks down the book!
When we first met R and Julie in Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies eight years ago(!), he was just a peculiar zombie and she was a teenager with dreams too big to be contained by the stadium where she was forced to live. Together, they proved that the plague that was consuming their world was reversible. It wasn’t clear how, but it was.
Cut to The Burning World where their efforts to cure those around them were halted and practically dismantled by outside forces looking to capitalize on the chaos. Forced to go on the run, our heroes all but gave up on the world they were trying to save, looking to escape to somewhere else. Some new place where they wouldn’t have to fight for the life they wanted but could just already start living it.
Obviously, that didn’t work out.
After doing some unexpected soul-searching, R, Julie, Nora, Marcus, and the rest of their friends return in The Living with a vengeance. They’re no longer the simple characters we met in Warm Bodies. They’re beaten-down, tired, and desperate to see the power-hungry “old system” come to a grinding halt.
The previous novel really put these characters through the wringer as the majority of them had to face quite a few awful truths and memories from their pasts. Ones that they’d convinced themselves were from another life and worked so hard to forget. But, in The Living, one by one they all finally realize that they can’t ignore or deny their pasts any longer if they want to live in a better world. They’ve revisited the traumas of their last and no longer drag the weight of them around like they did before. They’ve absorbed the parts that count and left behind the remains.
As a result, The Living makes for a much more fascinating read than any of the installments that came before it. As much as I was fascinated to learn all of the details of their pasts in previous novels, seeing all of those details in action makes for a much more gripping novel. It’s like up until The Living we as readers were only really connecting the dots and putting puzzle pieces together, but now we’re able to join the series’ chorus of voices and see the larger picture. I really enjoyed spending time with the characters at this point in their lives because they all felt much more whole than they did in the past. And, I mean, in a lot of ways, they were.
Practically every character who merits a name in Warm Bodies, The New Hunger, and The Burning World makes an appearance and has an important role to play in The Living. From adorable traveling duo/gay dads Gael and Gebre to Evan, that guard who used to have it bad for Nora back in the day, characters from our heroes’ past return to help pave the way for the future (for better or for worse).
Speaking of Nora, hers is one of the best storylines in The Living. Ever since The New Hunger, I’d been waiting to explore her mind and see what happens when she opens those doors she shut so tightly in the past. While The Burning World is definitely the story of R coming to grips with his past, The Living is Nora’s. After holding herself back and putting herself into the role of best friend sidekick so long ago, she emerges here as a fully-formed character.
And, of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how great R and Julie are in this installment.
I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of R in the previous novel. He worked so hard to block out his past and keep secrets from his friends that it was impossible not to be frustrated by him. But, of course, that was by design. We were supposed to feel that way about him because we were learning about the significance of the past right alongside him. But I’m happy to report that he’s back and better than ever in this.
From the get-go, R’s discoveries and acceptance on where he comes from gives him a new and important perspective on the world and how it came to be such a mess. Not only that, but he doesn’t hide it. Sure, he’s not exactly forthcoming with his information, often choosing to mull it over for a while before telling his friends what he knows, but that’s only so he can make sense about how all of the pieces fit before alarming the others. One of the things I loved about R in Warm Bodies and The New Hunger was his insight on existence and what it means to be human, so I was more than pleased to see this aspect of his character return in The Living.
Also back and better than before is Julie, who even admits at a few points in this novel that she had been acting pretty terribly during the events of The Burning World. Seeing her mother understandably broke her, but her treatment of her friends and her giving up on the world she had so much hope for was a hard pill to swallow. But here, she, along with R, is lighter.
One of the things that has always made Julie such a compelling and root-worthy character was her hope. It’s what set her apart from Perry as well as her father, both men who had a similar optimism for the future at some point but gave in to despair. She was a beacon of light during dark times. Though she lost her way in The Burning World, Julie shines brightly once again in this novel, serving as a catalyst for much of the widespread changes that occur and guiding her friends (as well as humanity itself) through some pretty tough situations.
As I pointed out in the cover reveal for this book, there’s a quote from The New Hunger inscribed over her silhouette on the cover that reads “Life is only fair for the Dead, who get what they want because they want nothing. Julie wants everything, no matter how much it costs, and this is why she will change the world.” Previously, this had really only referred to her hope and optimism, but it takes on a whole new meaning in The Living. Her hope becomes the fuel that fires her to take the world in her hands and re-mold it into what she believes it could (and should) be.
In terms of this novel’s plot, The Living picks up right where The Burning World left off, almost down to the hour. And so, this novel ends up being another sort of road trip story. But instead of the destination being somewhere off in the distance like it’d been previously, The Living is a story about the importance of the return trip as well as everything it takes to move forward.
As a result, the characters don’t really experience anything particularly new in the first part of this book (as they’ve pretty much always been in some sort of danger since the moment we met them). On the contrary, their backtracking causes them to re-experience previous situations and actually work through them.
One of my favorite examples of this is a section toward the middle of this novel that pops up unexpectedly but is absolutely riveting. You’ll know it the moment you read it. This scene directly involves the past in order to unlock the path to the new future and world that these characters have chosen to fight for. In fact, it practically gives the character involved a full-on redo so that they can use their knowledge of the past, as well as their hope, to create a different outcome for themselves.
Now I’m not the type of person who physically reacts to I’m reading or watching, but believe me when I say that I couldn’t help but audibly gasp when I encountered this event. Not only that, but it was difficult to keep myself from speeding through the slightly unrelated chapters following the event just to get back to this one character to find out what happens next! This one small sequence is a beautiful example of the novel’s larger message: Nothing is absolute, but we have to try something different in order to achieve different results.
That all being said, the story here wasn’t as gripping or addictive as I’d hoped it would be (or as the previous novels were). I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that The Burning World and The Living were, at one point, the same novel. So, a lot of the adventuring and action, as well as the detective work, happened in the former, leaving the latter with most of the philosophical and “what now” heavy lifting. While I enjoyed thinking in new ways and considering the events of the book (as well as our own world) in a new light, it’s a bit exhausting to do it as much and as often as the novel asks.
But, on the other hand, that difficulty makes unlocking the characters’ secrets, connecting all the dots, and then finishing the novel (as well as the series) feel like well-earned accomplishments.
And though they weren’t my favorite parts to read, The Living‘s long, philosophical passages and journeys through multiple planes of existence were some of the most beautiful aspects of the novel. While that might sound a bit highbrow for a “zombie novel,” it’s perfectly appropriate for this, a novel about what it means to be alive and be human. Parsing through all of these dense ideas can be exhausting while reading the novel, but they’re worth sticking with and unraveling.
The Burning World felt — and very much still feels — timely and relevant to the current world climate (what with its commentary on power struggles and apathy), but reading The Living feels like looking into a crystal ball and seeing a potential future for us all. Even when things feel insurmountable and like they’re at their darkest, it’s never too late for us to change course if we have hope, conviction, and the motivation to change our circumstances.
The Warm Bodies series and the story of a zombie filled with love has come a long way since it made its first appearance in the world. Evolving from a sort of existential Romeo and Juliet story featuring zombies into a cautionary-tale-turned-uncanny-commentary on the current world climate and now to a beacon of hope, this series encapsulates every aspect of the human condition. It may have been pitched as a story about zombies and survival, but The Living proves it’s so much more than that.
The Living by Isaac Marion is an impressive feat of storytelling that puts this epic tale to rest in the most thought-provoking and organic way. Spanning multiple generations, thousands of miles, and several planes of existence, The Living shows us all what it really means to be alive and how to exist in the world we wish to see.
Though I’m sad to say goodbye to R, Julie, and the Warm Bodies series as a whole, I couldn’t have asked for a better conclusion to such a gripping and soulful story. I’m so grateful to Isaac Marion for creating such a nuanced and thought-provoking world and I can’t wait to read whatever he writes next.
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