Warm Bodies Summary
Welcome to the world of the Dead. Our zombie narrator, R, shambles around, groans a lot, and rides escalators all day long, just like your typical teenage mall rat. One day, while hunting for brains, he eats the brain of Perry Kelvin. Eating brains allows zombies to see the recently-devoured's memories, and R sees that Perry really loves this girl, Julie. Plus, she's a babe.
R decides to save Julie and take her back to the airport where he lives. Even though he's a flesh-eating zombie, he's the hottest zombie Julie's ever seen, so she starts warming up to him. It helps that they have similar taste in music.
The Living girl doesn't quite sit well with the Boneys, who are like the governing body of the Dead. R refuses to kowtow to them, though, and decides to escort Julie back to the stadium where she lives with the rest of the Living. With the help of R's friend, M, they escape the airport.
After staying the night in an abandoned house, Julie ditches R and heads for the stadium by herself. R reluctantly heads back to the airport but is intercepted by M. It seems that the old fogey Boneys ran all the "changing" zombies out of town, including M. They've started having dreams and want to live! How dare they. They're pretty sure it's all because of Julie, so R decides to go after her.
He sneaks into the stadium and reunites with Julie. With her friend Nora, Julie shows R the stadium and what daily life there is like. It's almost as drab as groaning in an airport all day.
Julie shows R her mother's grave then they all get drunk. R gets into a bar fight defending Julie's honor and decides to shuffle home by himself. Bad idea. He comes across a guard who thinks he's a zombie... so he eats him. Determined not to cave in to his zombie nature, he doesn't eat all of him, though. So this guy comes back as a zombie later, raising a stadium-wide alert.
Julie decides she has to get R the heck out of the stadium before her dad—who is the General—finds out. Outside, they run into M who has amassed a whole army of changing Dead. What do they need an army for? Well to fight off the hundreds of walking skeletons that have started to take over. Yipes.
R and Julie then run back to the stadium where they think the armed guards can take care of the skeletons. They can't; they're outnumbered. So as all these innocent people are getting killed, R, Julie, and Nora decide to go chill on top of the stadium. They're just hanging out, you know, like you do when walking skeletons are killing all your friends, when Julie's dad shows up and totally ruins everything, walking in on R and Julie kissing. Ugh, parents.
Thinking Julie's now a zombie, her dad decides to shoot her. Julie's adult friend, Colonel Rosso, stabs dad in the ankle and he falls off the stadium. Clutching to an overhang for dear life, Julie's dad almost survives, but then a skeleton comes along and eats him. So he turns into a skeleton, too.
And then everything's kind of over. The skeletons stop attacking and go home. R and Julie are pretty sure it's because they started smooching, and their necrophiliac love story cured death. R even regains his pulse and starts bleeding again. With his newfound life, R vows to find a cure for death and live forever. The End.
Step 1: Wanting
- Our narrator, R, is a dead guy. For a dead guy, he's pretty chatty, and not too decomposed.
- He doesn't remember what he was in life, but from the way he's dressed—"black slacks, gray shirt, red tie" (1.1.2)—he thinks he might have been a businessman or banker. If he had a moustache, we'd think he was just some Seattle hipster dead from an irony overdose.
- With a team of other zombies, he heads into the city and feeds, bringing back leftover body parts for the zombies who didn't go out on the hunt. Icky—the sloppiest of seconds.
- A zombie's life is pretty boring. R lives in an airport and rides around on escalators all day. Okay, it actually sounds pretty awesome.
- One day, while riding around on the conveyor belt walkway, R spots a hot zombie babe: "she doesn't lurch or groan" (1.1.30) so she's a prime catch. A nine on the zombie hotness scale.
- Plus, she has a nametag. A name! A real live name. Too bad R and all the other zombies have forgotten how to read.
- Still, who needs a name when you're a zombie in love? She leads R to the little sanctuary the zombies have built on the runway and they get married.
- After the ceremony, they're assigned a pair of zombie children to watch after.
- Seeing the kids play and laugh, R says, "Deep inside me, in some dark and cobwebbed chamber, I feel something twitch" (1.1.54). We hope it isn't a maggot. Blech.
- "It's time to feed again" (1.2.1). Mmm, what's for lunch? A double cheeseburger? Sushi? No, human flesh and brains. Sounds better than Arby's.
- R and his friend, M, get a hunting party together and they head into the city.
- They find a conveniently under-prepared group of teenagers huddled up in a building. The teens fight back with guns, but they're no match for the undead. R cracks into a skull and bites down on some juicy brain.
- See, when zombies eat brains, they relive memories of the person's life. R finds himself living as Perry Kelvin for a moment. He sees snapshots of Perry's life, including the first time he met this girl Julie and the first time he and Julie got it on.
- Back to reality, R realizes that the girl M is about to feast on is Julie. The Julie, from Perry's memories.
- R pushes M out of the way, saying "No. Mine," like he's Bill Compton protecting Sookie Stackhouse.
- Julie isn't too keen to be that close to a zombie, especially one with her boyfriend's blood all over his face, so she stabs R in the forehead. Being a zombie, it doesn't affect him too much.
- He groans out her name, and she stares at him, bewildered, but she doesn't attack him again.
- In order to keep Julie alive, R smears her with some zombie gore to disguise her scent. (Are you paying attention, Cover Girl? Crossover marketing opportunity!) They head back to the airport together.
- R leaves Julie in his jet plane, which is filled with more tchotchkes than Wall-e's house.
- He then meets up with M in the bathroom, where they pass chunks of brain around for splitskies.
- R doesn't want to share Perry's brain, however. He wants to keep its juicy goodness (and the memories of Julie) all to himself.
- R's bogarting of the brain makes M miffed, so he leaves.
- Back in the plane, Julie asks R why he saved her. He doesn't want to admit that he's the one who killed Perry, so all he can say is "I'm... sorry," and shuffles away (1.3.64).
- In this short chapter, R has two more memories of Perry Kelvin:
- (1) Perry was raised by his dad after his mom left them.
- (2) On a roof somewhere, Perry and Julie watch a zombie stumble around in circles. Julie wonders what it would be like to be one of them. Be careful what you wish for...
- R's wife isn't happy with his lax parenting as of late. The kids are having to eat old body parts! That's grounds for neglect in the zombie-parenting world.
- Someone call ZPS.
- They take the kids to school, where they learn to go for the jugular when attacking human prey. Seeing as how R's told us that children don't hunt and zombies barely remember what happened yesterday, we're not sure how productive this is, but it gives them something to do, we guess.
- Back in R's jet plane, Julie is hungry. R decides to take her into the airport to find food. He teaches her to zombie shuffle Shaun of the Dead-style, and in they go.
- All the food in the airport food court is rotten and moldy (ain't it always?), but R and Julie find some frozen pad thai and microwave it.
- Hidden away from the zombies so they don't see her eat "lifeless waste," (1.6.10) Julie eats the freezer-burned delight and makes small talk with R.
- She learns his name (well, the first letter of it), and wants to know why he's keeping her at the airport. He says he'll let her go in a few days.
- They share a beer, and even though it shouldn't affect R, he feels he's getting a heady buzz from it.
- Making small talk, they bond over a shared love for the music of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. No mention of the creepiest Beatles song, though: "Maxwell's Silver Hammer."
- R found an old Mercedes a while ago, and now Julie's trying to teach him how to drive it.
- On the way back to the terminal, R spots his zombie wife... with another man! Being an emotionless zombie, he doesn't really care: "Want it... to hurt. But... doesn't" (1.7.16).
- Julie tells R that her boyfriend cheated on her once and she "cried every night for weeks" (1.7.19).
- Later that night, R busts out a few vinyl records to listen to with Julie. She criticizes him for not having an iPod or any music newer than 1999, because zombies are known for being on the cutting edge of technology and pop culture.
- They listen to some Sinatra, and Julie asks R whom he ate when the zombies attacked her and her friends. He still can't admit to eating Perry.
- Julie goes on about how Perry had a death wish anyway, and it's kind of a relief he finally died. She thinks that's what he really wanted.
- After chatting with Julie, R falls asleep. He says this is normal—zombies sleep, just not as much as the living. This is abnormal, though: he dreams. It's all a blur, but it makes R wonder where he came from.
- Since he doesn't have any memories of his own, he pops his last piece of Perry's brain and sees some of his.
- When R starts to relive the last few minutes of Perry's life, Perry's consciousness speaks to him: "If you don't want to see it, you can spit it out" (1.7.86).
- He keeps watching, seeing the moment he bites into Perry's neck and kills him. Then he sees Perry's last memory: he and Julie, listening to John Lennon and singing along.
- Coming back into his own limited consciousness, R wonders if he is Perry's afterlife. "Where is his soul now?" (1.7.116).
- Then R decides he doesn't want to die (and be simply dead instead of Dead). He doesn't want to disappear.
- R awakes to the sound of screaming. No, this isn't an alarm clock for zombies; it's Julie being attacked.
- She tried to leave by herself and got cornered. R smashes the zombies attacking her and saves her. Again.
- One of the zombies he punched turns out to be his friend M. Now the M might as well stand for Mushface.
- This angers the Boneys—ancient zombies that are so decayed they have no more skin, just yellowed bones.
- They march up and show R a bunch of photos of soldiers killing zombies. The message: "Inevitability. The immutable, binary results of our interactions with the Living. They die/we die" (1.8.24-1.8.25).
- R's not having it. He throws the photos down. The head skeleton stares at him (as much as a skeleton can stare), and they all leave.
- He then escorts Julie from the airport. Along the way, she wonders what started this whole zombie plague in the first place. And R has to bust a few more heads.
- Julie's a little afraid that her dad will come to the airport and wipe out all the zombies, including R.
- R decides he'll go with Julie back to the stadium where she lives.
- On the way out, they run into M again. He wants to know what's up with R, why is he changing? "When... figure out... […] tell me. Tell... us," M asks (1.8.138).
- M escorts R and Julie out of the airport because hundreds of zombies are milling about trying to get a peek at the zombie and the Living girl. It's like the royal wedding of Dead William and Living Kate or something.
- Problem: the Boneys aren't content to just let this procession go through. They try to stop them.
- R and Julie hop into the Mercedes and plow down some Boneys on their way to the big open road.
- As they hit the freeway, rain beings to fall. Romantic? Yes. Ominous? Yes.
- Convertible + rain = wet zombie. R and Julie find an abandoned house and go inside to dry off.
- Inside, Julie takes R's picture with a Polaroid camera she stole from the Boneys. She asks R why his eyes are "That weird gray" (1.10.18).
- After making fat jokes about the house's deceased owners, Julie asks R if he has to eat people. He does, but he hasn't eaten anyone since he rescued her.
- He's "been gastronomically celibate since the day [he] met her" (1.10.42). Aw, how sweet.
- Julie cracks another fat joke and goes to bed. She invites R to join her, then takes off all her wet clothes and crawls into bed with him. It's like A Rose for Emily, except younger and hotter.
- R has another Perry vision: dinner with Julie's dad. It's not pleasant, as they all argue about dad's rigidity, mom's abandonment (looks like Perry and Julie have absent moms in common), and what Perry wants to do with his life. General Grigio scoffs at gardening. Real men don't garden! Try telling that to the Gestalt Gardener.
- Perry vision #2: Perry, Julie, and their friend Nora are smoking pot and chatting about the future, or what the future would be like were it not for the pesky zombie plague.
- R swaps places with Perry in the vision and tells Julie, "You're going to change the world" (1.10.149).
- The next morning, the rain has stopped. R wonders if he'll be able to let Julie go.
- Before they leave, Julie calls her dad (yes, phones still work) and tells him that she's on her way back home.
- Then, she tells R that she needs to think… and she takes the Mercedes and speeds away. Something tells us she's not coming back.
- R starts to return to the airport (the airport Julie just told her dad, the itchy-trigger-finger military general, about…), but it rains again, and R seeks shelter under a tree.
- Dream time again. In this dream, Julie's a monster who tells R, "Your hope is absurd. Your romanticism, embarrassing" (1.10.191).
- When he wakes up, there's another zombie shuffling toward him. It's M. He's been kicked out of the airport by the Boneys, and a few other zombies who are starting to change like R have come with him. They're dreaming too, having memories.
- R decides he has to pursue Julie—and love!—to the stadium. "We'll see what happens when we say yes while this rigor mortis world screams no" (1.10.239). Ah, pure poetry.
Step 2: Taking
- We're back in Perry Kelvin's memories again. This is an early one in his and Julie's relationship, from when they first started dating.
- Perry tells his dad that he thinks he has a girlfriend, then we flash forward an unspecified amount in time, and Perry's in an orphanage. His dad has died.
- Back to reality, R and M get ready to storm the gates of the stadium.
- R runs toward the gatekeepers, shouting, "Help! […] They're.... right behind me!" (2.1.109). Clever.
- They think he's a human and let him in. Then, the zombies chasing him do something they've never done before: they run away.
- As the guards get distracted, R sneaks inside to look for Julie's home.
- Like a bloodhound, R picks up Julie's scent and follows it through the streets.
- Along the way he sees the Living school, where children are taught to kill zombies. It's just like the zombie school, except in reverse.
- Romeo finally finds Juliet on her balcony. Oops, we mean R finally finds Julie on her balcony.
- "Wherefore art thou zombie?" Julie asks. Okay, not really, but she does ask "What's in a name?" (2.2.58).
- She's talking to her tape recorder (which she really should have named "Sally"), but she gets mad and chucks it off the balcony. R secretly puts it in his pocket, then calls out Julie's name.
- Julie sees R and runs downstairs to meet him. She wonders if she kisses him, would she get infected?
- Before she can find out, the patrol comes by, and she has to sneak R inside.
- She introduces him to her friend Nora and shows him the stolen art in her room: Salvador Dali. Yeah, we're guessing museum security is not a priority when zombies are on the loose.
- Nora can't believe how Living R looks, but she wonders if he can wean himself off his living food diet. He says he can.
- As they lay down for bed, R and Julie talk about how they really want to change the world. If only they could figure out how...
- More Perry time. He overhears a tense conversation between Julie and her dad about her mom leaving. Julie comes downstairs and they go to Colonel Rosso's house.
- Perry tells Rosso that his dad died in a construction accident: "No battle, no noble sacrifice" (2.3.22).
- Rosso tells him about The Epic of Gilgamesh,"a journey to find eternal life" (2.3.37). He says that you can keep people alive by remembering them, but Perry doesn't want to remember.
- R wakes up and tells Julie he wants to see the city. So they wash his clothes, give him a quick makeover and take him out on the town.
- Because we haven't had enough death talk in this book, Julie takes R to the graveyard where her mom (or the pieces of her they could find) are buried.
- She tells R that one day, mom just ran out of the house, out of the stadium, and got devoured in the wild.
- Before they leave the cemetery, R sees a familiar grave (could it be Perry's?) and falls into another vision.
- We're taken back to Perry's last day alive. He's put in charge of his first scouting mission, and he intends it to be his last.
- Things are complicated when Col. Rosso tells him that Julie and Nora have signed up. Guess it won't be the suicide mission he was hoping for.
- The vision shifts to R's jet plane, except this time it's flying. Perry warns R that something bad is coming.
- R wakes up in the graveyard, and something bad comes: Julie's dad.
- She introduces R to her dad as Archie, Nora's boyfriend.
- After that tense encounter, it's time for a drink. Off to the bar.
- The Orchard isn't a hardcore kind of bar. Prohibition is in full swing in this stadium, so it's a juice bar.
- Julie's not one for rules, so she ducks out to spike their drinks. Meanwhile, Nora tells R that Julie really likes him. He has "some of that same... sparkle [Perry]had when he was younger" (2.6.28). Zombies sparkle now? No wonder Stephenie Meyer loves this book.
- R confesses that he ate Perry's brain, and Nora's not surprised. She says that Julie would probably forgive him.
- She's big on forgiveness. The girl that Perry cheated on her with, that was Nora.
- Julie returns and they have a few stiff drinks. Then R experiences an unfamiliar feeling for a zombie: he has to pee.
- In the bathroom, he stares at his "mythical instrument of life and death" (2.6.61). Wow, someone has a high opinion of his own manhood.
- After a quick tinkle, R returns to the bar. He feels really dizzy and drunk, so he goes outside for some fresh air... and to listen to Julie's audio diary. Yes, it somehow stayed in his pocket and still works even though Julie chucked it off a balcony and ran that shirt through the washing machine four chapters ago.
- Outside, a couple of jerks talk trash about Julie. R knocks them both out and runs...
- He runs right into a stadium guard. R's a little drunk, and his makeup has washed off. "I look like... exactly what I am" (2.6.104), a drunk, a zombie, or a drunk zombie. Or Glenn Close pretending to be drunk at the Golden Globes. None of these options are good.
- R feels he has no other choice but to eat the guy. So he takes a nice big bite... then changes his mind. Too late, dude! He runs away.
- Julie finds him outside her house. Before they go in, he wants to show her something.
- He takes her to the orphanage that Perry grew up in, and confesses that he knows about it because he ate Perry's brain.
- She forgives him. Awwww…?
- Just as R is about to spill the brains that he ate the guard, a stadium-wide alert goes up. Security breach.
- R tells her what happened, and she realizes she has to get him out of there.
- However, they fall asleep before they can think of a plan. Feel the urgency!
- The phone rings, and Julie wakes up to get it. She passes it to R. "It's for you" (2.7.36).
- It's M. He's outside, and he's amassed a whole army of changing zombies. He thinks that Julie can help them complete the process, so R decides they need to go outside and meet them.
- They take another nap first. Seriously. We guess all this not coming up with a plan is exhausting.
- In the morning, there's an announcement: the security breach has been contained, but the zombie who did it is still on the loose.
- While security searches all houses, all the citizens are supposed to gather in the open. We have no idea why this is a good idea.
- Before R, Nora, and Julie can escape, Julie's dad comes home. He grills "Archie" about his relationship with Nora, where he's from, etc.
- Then he stabs R in the shoulder. Ouch. Well, since he's a zombie, it doesn't hurt.
- An argument breaks out about saving R. Julie is pro, obviously, her dad is con.
- General Grigio presses his gun against R's forehead, but Julie slices him with a knife, knocking the gun to the ground.
- Nora grabs it and holds Major Dad at gunpoint, giving Julie and R an opportunity to make a break for it.
- At the edge of the stadium, they run up eight flights of stairs and open a door they find. That's about as smart as going out this door eight stories above the ground.
- Julie almost falls out. Then Rosso shows up and demands that Julie hand over R.
- Instead, R grabs Julie and leaps backwards out the door to nowhere. They plummet to the ground and his dead body cushions her fall. Good thing he's well preserved.
- As they run, R realizes that he might actually be healing. Weird.
- They run toward M's army, but they're pursued by Rosso in a Chevy Tahoe: "You can't save the world by yourself!" he shouts (2.7.231).
- But R and Julie have a whole army with them, so they're going to try.
- This whole saving the world thing might be a little easier if they had a plan. R and Julie decide to go back to the airport and, we don't know, brainstorm?
- Problem: M says they can't go back because the Boneys are furious.
- On cue, armies of Boneys arrive and it all hits the fan.
- R and Julie decide to lead the Boneys to the stadium where the guards have tons of guns.
- Problem #2: The Boneys have already taken over. The armed guards are outnumbered.
- They take advantage of the chaos to go back into the stadium and find Nora.
- She's hiding in the stadium's skybox because she's wanted for assaulting Major Dad.
- Speaking of the devil, Major Dad starts making crazy announcements to the whole stadium about Julie's "tantrum" (2.8.140). Leave it to this guy to embarrass his daughter in the middle of a large-scale zombie assault.
- Julie, Nora, and R flee to the roof of the stadium, where Julie says she believes that humans caused the plague themselves. "[We] buried ourselves under greed and hate and whatever other sins we could find until our souls finally hit the rock bottom of the universe" (2.8.170).
- Yep, R agrees that must be it. Problem solved! But how do they fix it?
- They don't know how to fix it, so they decide to just smooch instead. Not only that, Julie bites R's lip. Never thought you'd see anyone bite a zombie, huh?
- Or kiss one, now that we think about it.
- After their tongue wresting, something changes. Julie's eyes turn gold for one thing. And they both develop a new scent that "rushes out from [them] like an explosion of pheromones" (2.8.180). Hot. They should figure out how to bottle that.
- All the skeletons stop moving. Major Dad doesn't, however, and he pops up on the roof.
- Thinking Julie is infected, he orders Rosso to shoot her. When he refuses, Major Dad takes the gun and points it at his own daughter.
- Rosso stabs Major Dad in the ankle and he falls right off the stadium.
- He slides down the sloped roof, but before he can pull himself back up, a skeleton grabs him.
- Major Dad doesn't fight it. He lets the skeleton bite him and pull him over the edge.
- On the way down, "his remaining flesh peels away in the wind, dry scraps floating up like ashes, leaving the pale bones underneath" (2.8.219). Yep, he instantly turns into a Boney.
- Julie's upset, but it doesn't last long when she realizes that R is bleeding. Actually bleeding, from the little hole in his forehead where Julie stabbed him.
- Not only that, he has a pulse. Ba-bum. Ba-bum.
Step 3: Living
- The stadium guards introduce the changing zombies to the Living public, letting them know that the zombies are now trying to adapt.
- Getting into this adaptation thing, M starts hitting on Nora. And she kinda likes it.
- Meanwhile, back at the airport, the Boneys are starting to slow down and stop for good.
- The Dead children are starting to Live again. To celebrate, they're making photo collages. Not of death, like the Boneys made, but of life.
- Finally, at the stadium, Julie asks R if things will ever return to the way they were ("I hope not," he says [3.1.49]), if he remembers his name ("My name is R," he says [3.1.57]), and if he wants his old life back.
- "I want this one," (3.1.59) he says.
- He decides that he and Julie will "fight the curse and break it. We will cry and bleed and lust and love, and we will cure death. We will be the cure. Because we want it" (3.1.62).
- The end.