R is a young man with an existential crisis--he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. After experiencing a teenage boy's memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and strangely sweet relationship with the victim's human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.
This was one of the most original and creative dystopian books I have read in a long time. I haven't read too many zombie books, but I have watched a lot of The Walking Dead (that's almost the same thing, right?). It was so interesting to hear what is going on in the world from the POV of one of the zombies. One such zombie is named R. He can't remember his name or anything else from when he was alive. He just remembers a vague sound, like an R. R eats the brain of a boy named Perry and somehow he can remember the boy's life and his emotions. He becomes very protective of Perry's girlfriend, Julie, and he doesn't eat her or kill her. He takes her to the airport where all the zombies are hanging out and hides her in one of the planes. In the beginning of the book, R's communication skills and even his thoughts are very basic. But his thoughts get more complex as the book progresses. There are quite a few times where you really have to suspend your disbelief and just go with it.
For one thing, I still don't fully understand about the Boneys. Basically, Boneys are exactly what they sound like: they are skeletons and for some reason, they are "in charge" of all the zombies, or "Flesheys," as they are sometimes called. The Boneys even marry zombies to each other. Yes, R took a zombie wife and even assigned two children to them. But there is no emotion here, just a weird connection because all of them like to eat people. R and his wife separate and go their separate ways just as easily as they "get married." I don't really understand how the Boneys came to be in charge of all the zombies or whatever, but what is evident is that they want to keep the status quo of how the world is. Zombies are supposed to kill humans. End of story. That is the way it is supposed to be. But when R refuses to kill Julie and when he protects her from all of the other zombies, he changes things and the Boneys don't like that.
What I love about this story is that there is so much more to it than just a romance between two very unlikely people. The romance doesn't even happen right away, at least not on Julie's end. There is also so much action. R is protecting her from other zombies and then Julie hides him in a walled (and guarded) city that a large number of people formed to keep the zombies away. So there were a LOT of action scenes where R and Julie were running away from stuff, sometimes they were running from zombies and sometimes they were running from humans. The biggest human threat was Julie's dad. He was a piece of work. But I guess you can't really blame him for wanting to kill a zombie, right? I There were also some very funny moments, like when Julie, R,, and Julie's friend, Nora went to a "bar" in the compound, where they had shots of grapefruit juice with some smuggled vodka. And a drunk zombie seems to be an entertaining one. Oh, and Julie had a crazy amount of stolen art in her room. But no one was looking for it because, you know, the world went to dust and all that. I also loved that Julie was trying to remain hopeful, even after everything crumbled around her. People around her just wanted to kill the zombies or they just wanted to survive. But she wanted to live. She found hope that people were still having babies, even in the middle of all the chaos. She knew there was more to live for than just surviving. This book had me hooked from the very first page and I can't wait to read the sequel. The ending was not exactly a cliffhanger, but it was a bit open ended. If you want a story that is different and creative, then I would highly recommend this one.
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy this one!