Warm Bodies author Isaac Marion played a prank on his fans last week, posting a phony description of the sequel he's been working on for the zombie story for quite a while now. And then a couple of days later, he made amends by offering up a couple of tidbits about what he's really planning for the follow-up, including the expected length of the book.
Marion posted an update to his blog recently, noting that he had to present an outline of the planned sequel to Warm Bodies (the novel) "for publisher pitching purposes." It caused him to step back and take a look at what he's working on.
The end result is a compact little model of the story that you can hold in one hand and examine, and many thoughts occurred to me as I examined it. One was holy shit, this is a weird book. Not only for its contents, which are pretty weird (zombies, semi-zombies, maybe-zombies, ghosts, goats, boats, gaps in reality, and trippy philosophical pseudo-magic) but for how it functions as a sequel. Warm Bodies was essentially about one person's struggle with himself; the sequel is about several people's struggles with themselves, each other, and the wider world and all its broken systems (cultural, political, cosmic).
Marion published Warm Bodies in 2010, after which it was adapted for a film from Jonathan Levine, starring Nicholas Hoult as the lead character R, a self-aware Zombie shuffling through life-after-death and trying to figure things out when he falls for Julie, a beautiful apocalypse survivor. The two spark an unorthodox relationship that prompts a deep change in R's rotting condition. And there are loose ties to Romeo & Juliet worked into the story. Since then, Marion has penned a prequel novel and we've known since October 2012 that he's been working on a sequel. But he hasn't exactly been liberally doling out plot clues as to what's ahead for Julie and R post-Warm Bodies. It's at this point that I'll note, for those who have only seen the movie, that the ending of the book plays out a bit differently, in a couple drastic ways, in fact.
Look at what Marion had to say about the sequel, I'm hopeful that the semi-zombies and maybe-zombies includes an elaboration on what happened to Julie and R when they kissed. That's something the movie didn't really delve into, but it seemed pretty significant and maybe that falls under the mention of "cosmic" systems. And I'm also hopeful that Julie's friend Nora and Nora's brother Addis are among the "several people" whose struggles are dealt with, as they were the focus of the mentioned prequel novel The New Hunger.
Again, specifics are at a minimal here, but it sounds like there's a lot going on in this followup. In fact, Marion says he's 200 pages in and predicting that the book will surpass 500 pages, which would be more than twice the size of Warm Bodies. Marion says "it's so disproportionately ambitious, I might be trying to build a space shuttle on a the frame of a hang glider."
So when is this space shuttle launching? He says mid-to-late 2015, but it sounds like that's just a guess. That's far enough away that we might not expect an actual description for a while.
Will it involve an anxious Julie pregnant and preparing to wed R when a "tangled web of romance" threatens to complicate everything? Seems doubtful, but that is part of the increasingly dramatic scenario Marion pitched to his fans on April Fools Day. Read all about that here.