Literary Inspiration: The Burning World

The Burning World Collage

Last we checked in on my reading challenge efforts, I was whiffing a friend’s 2017 creation with just 10 piddly books.  I mean, I’m not sure I’d call The Stand “piddly,” but I did attempt to pass off a 35-page ice cream cookbook as a novel from which I learned something, so six of one, half a dozen of the other!  So when that same friend, working in partnership with a third blogging buddy, created a new reading challenge for 2018, I thought it prudent to try, try again.  Second verse, same as the first and all that literary jazz.  Or second verse, hopefully with more effort…than the first, and all that literary jazz (slightly less catchy saying, that!)

Last time I got quite hung up on completing each of the challenge prompts in the order in which they were listed.  This time I just jumped into the deep end with whatever theme spoke to me first, which turned out to be number 26, “A book title that sounds like the cool name for a band.”  And for this theme, I chose Isaac Marion’s The Burning World, the third novel set in the Warm Bodies zombie universe.

The Burning World Book 2.jpg

Some of you may remember that I read The New Hunger, a prequel to Warm Bodies, in satisfaction of one of the prompts last year.  The Burning World, a direct sequel to Warm Bodies that picks up two months after the events of that novel, acts as a bridge between the original story and its prequel.  It’s a fantastic framing device, particularly in light of the fact that if you’ve read the prequel, which introduces the main characters into each others’ orbits years before they ever meet face to face, you know things in this book that the characters do not.  Watching the puzzle pieces of their deeply interconnected lives (and afterlives) click into place is half the joy of reading The Burning World.

And it’s just as well there is that joy to be had from this novel, because holy smokes, absent it, there is very little light or levity to The Burning World.  If you’ve read Warm Bodies, you might remember its tone was one of a weary kind of optimism.  It ended on an up note, if not necessarily a “And they all lived happily ever after” note.  But The Burning World opens on a beleaguered community crumbling under the weight of trying to “fix” the zombie apocalypse, and it only gets much, much, much worse from there.  Part heavy political commentary (zombies were just the final outrageous straw that broke the world’s back, after years of war, environmental destruction and political abuses), part road trip journey and part bald warning, The Burning World mostly jettisons the softer aspects of Warm Bodies – gone are R’s “boy zombie-meets-girl” internal monologues, replaced now with meditations on whether love is even something worth pursuing in a world where survival is paramount.  So, too, is any sense of peace or rest or stability for our little band of wandering revolutionaries, who are left, at the end of 500-some pages, exactly where they started – on the run.  And with one final book coming in 2018 to wrap up the story, it left The Burning World in an oddly truncated and abrupt place – I literally flipped the page and thought, “Oh, okay, so that really was it.”

The Burning World Nails 1

Having said all that, this was a great novel – Isaac Marion is such an evocative writer, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of his works set in the Warm Bodies universe.  Enough that I’ve managed to pull some decent nail art inspiration from even the bleakest of dystopian tales, this burning manicure being no exception.  As for the tie?  Well, that’s a bit of a spoiler, and on that intriguing subject, I shall say no more. 😉

5 thoughts on “Literary Inspiration: The Burning World

  1. Woo! I had a feeling you couldn’t pass up that rock n roll theme, that was Julie’s gem. Let’s see, start w/ the book or the mani…book. I may never read this series, but I enjoy worlds of weary optimism. (I’ll take any optimism after my bleak reads of late) I’m imagining a more sophisticated Christopher Pike, but with less camp and more soul? The Burning World is an effective title, be it book or band. When I was younger, my brother and I had a made-up rock band called Burning Eagle! Think I was reaching for some symbolism there or maybe just thought ‘burning’ sounded cool.

    Feelin this nail art too. I’d love to sport it when I’m in a wish-I-could-burn-the-whole-world-down-mood but should probably go read instead. Just me? lol. I thought the accent nail was a big red missile pointing to earth causing fire and destruction but a necktie you say? Intriguing. Way to go on your literary inspo, you must complete more because I truly love these tie-ins.
    P.S. I now not only think Sandra! when I pass Death Note at the library but also when I walk by the DVDs and see Warm Bodies, I think I’ll design a display around the two somehow, maybe next Halloween?

    • No, not quite Christopher Pike, although in the same subject matter wheelhouse. Pike was such a just-the-bare-necessities kind ofwriter, and Marion allows himself to go on longer, more ambling meditations on humanity, politics and all those other lightweight subjects than Pike ever did (yet he manages to do so in such a neat, concise way, so you never feel like you’re being bludgeoned over the head with all the bleak.) And, like, zero camp, particularly in this book. If you’ve seen the Warm Bodies movie, that may be the issue – it has a gentle, goofy kind of rom-com vibe to it that is not present in any way, shape or form in the books. It was an interesting artistic choice to move away from the more serious nature of the books, although I’m not sure it paid off. I liked the movie well enough, but I didn’t love it the way I loved the book.

      Anyways! It’s kind of a downer. And it ends on a very unfinished note, being what turns out to be the middle book in a sort of trilogy. It just kind of runs off the end of the page – I really did turn the page and go, “Oh wow, and here be the end!”

      I love that I have created a virtual inspiration board of shitty movies and novels in your mind. 🙂 I’ve heard friends say, “I always associate you with The Lost Boys!” Don’t know if that’s a positive or a negative, though!

  2. Pingback: The Challenger | Finger Candy

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