The New Hunger
By Isaac Marion
Zola Books, 2013
Note: The New Hunger is a prequel to Warm Bodies. You can read my review of Warm Bodies here.
The world is still in the process of falling apart. Our zombie hero, R, is freshly reanimated and searching for even the vaguest understanding of what he is. Julie Grigio is twelve years old, searching with her parents for any form of civilization. Nora Greene is sixteen and alone with her seven-year-old brother, searching for anything at all. And they’re all searching in the same direction.
Prequel-itis. I’m a defender of prequels in general. I find that knowing how they have to end gives them a powerful weaving-together quality more often than it spoils them, but in this one, the inevitability of who will live and where they’ll end up is particularly limiting, especially for R. With Warm Bodies relying on the premise that he’s dead at the beginning in almost every sense, going through some of the motions of life but with their meaning absent, he doesn’t have a whole lot of room for progress before he gets there. Julie, on the other hand, clearly has a past, but none of it is in this book, other than the part about being a tired but optimistic twelve-year-old who’s seen too much death. The founding of the stadium city, the romance with Perry, and the worst of the Grigio family’s breakdown all take place between the two books. The interactions between separate groups of main characters are kept to a minimum, just enough to hold the book together, but they still slightly undercut the impact of their formal first meetings in Warm Bodies.
Nora’s share of the story (the biggest blank the book has to work with) is sweet, funny, and heartbreaking. Her relationship with her brother and their one-day-at-a-time quest to stay alive makes it impossible not to want to stop and give them both big hugs every few pages. What Warm Bodies lacked as a monster story, being told entirely from a zombie’s perspective, The New Hunger helps make up for from Nora’s. There are no vast hordes of zombies, but the Boneys and their pure evil group intelligence are chilling enough in tiny numbers. And of course, being Isaac Marion, the imagery and the prose itself are gorgeous, poignant, and razor-sharp all the way through. If you’re a fan of Warm Bodies, this is an extra taste of the universe and its style that’s certainly worth taking.