Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Comparing Warm Bodies to Twilight

Last night I finally finished my review of Warm Bodies (by Isaac Marion). I've read the entire novel as well as seen the movie at this point, and I feel that it's fair for me to jump on the comparison bandwagon. Fair warning: I'm going to be doing quite a bit of comparing books to Twilight in the next little while, in large part because I'm ticked off by the treatment that the Twilight Saga gets from the people who dislike it, and the way that people tend to compare everything to the Stephenie Meyer series and the series to everything.

Before I say anything else, let me tell you this: I think that these comparisons are stupid. Stephenie Meyer didn't "rip off" Anne Rice or J.K. Rowling. And Isaac Marion didn't "rip off" Stephenie Meyer. Stories often get retold with a new spin on them. Stephen King gets a lot from Ray Bradbury, for example. I'm sick of comparisons. I'm growing increasingly tired of being told what I can and cannot like because such and such is too much like such and such. In a perfect world, people would just get over it. And eventually they probably will; Twenty years from now, nobody's going to care about whether or not Twilight is terrible for teenage girls. In fact, people probably won't still be reading it. All this hate is a passing fad.

Ranting aside, I did want to make a couple of my own comparisons here, because I am finding some of these allegations incredibly interesting, and I honestly have a few of my own. So here's what I know about the comparisons of Warm Bodies to Twilight. Please do feel free to add your own findings to the comments on this entry, and I will do my best to add them into the post as they filter in.

The Movie Posters are Very Similar

As you can see in my side-by-side image at the top of this page, the two movie posters are incredibly similar to one another. This is the number one complaint that I've heard about Warm Bodies in its comparison to the other movies. And it's ridiculous.

Here's why: Both movies were produced by Summit Entertainment. Period. The posters are similar because that's a style that Summit obviously favors. That being said, this isn't even the main movie poster. This is only one in a long series of movie posters for this movie. For a good look at the different posters available for the Warm Bodies movie, click here.

I think that it bears mentioning that none of these posters even remotely resemble the Twilight character posters.

It's unfair to the writers to compare the two books based on the movie posters. 

Both Stories Involve (Un)Dead Heroes

I have to confess that I'm aware of the absurdity of this fact. The comparison is not, itself, absurd. The fact that these two stories involve leading men who are dead (and cold) isn't exactly appealing. If you've ever kissed somebody who has been sucking on ice, you know why this isn't an appealing concept. I never did understand why Bella would keep kissing Edward when she had Jacob available (and I prefer Edward over Jacob -- in the books anyway).

Admittedly, I don't find either vampires or zombies to be particularly romantic in and of themselves. The first really romantic vampire in fiction (as far as I've read, anyway) is Lestat, from Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. Since then there has been an explosion of romantic vampire characters, and in particular in teen fiction. There's nothing really wrong with that. Nor is there anything wrong with a romantic zombie.

Except for the fact that neither of these creatures should have the mortal ability to love, according to the myths associated with these two stories.

Both Stories Change the Myth

In both cases, the stories change the established myth of the creatures they feature. Vampires need human blood to survive. This is part of the traditional vampire myth. Others made the change before she did, however; Charlaine Harris, in her Southern Vampire Mysteries had the vampires drinking True Blood (a synthetic human blood substitute), for example.

Some people don't like this tremendous change to the vampire myth. They like it even less that the vampires sparkle instead of combusting in the sunlight. This is all understandable, and if you're viewing Twilight through the lens of vampire myth instead of from the point of view of the story that it tells, it's obvious why people may be disgruntled. 

Warm Bodies takes zombies, and changes them dramatically. In this story, the zombies can think (or at least R can). They can move more fluidly than classical zombies. And they can live without eating brains, under the right circumstances. For zombie fans, this is ridiculous and annoying. That's also understandable. 

This is a solid connection between the two stories. And a disconcerting one, since one could venture to say that Meyer opened this door to other authors. 

My Conclusions

Interestingly, my opinion in this matter changed while writing this post. I had originally rejected the notion that there was a connection between the two novels, since the stories are so vastly different and since Marion's writing is clearly superior to Meyer's. However, now that I've written it out, I have to say that I can understand why people have some of the objections about these books. 

That being said, while I loved both stories (and series, as Warm Bodies is becoming a series now), I have to say that Warm Bodies is easily the superior novel. I can't recommend it for people who enjoy the traditional Zombie myth, because I think that it will disturb zombie lovers too much.

The only easy way to understand how different these two stories are is to read both and to compare. Or to find somebody who hated Twilight but loved Warm Bodies (or vice versa!).

What do you think about the comparison? Do you see similarities, or not? Have you read either (or both!) books/series? 

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