cover image The Burning World

The Burning World

Isaac Marion. Atria/Bestler, $27 (512p) ISBN 978-1-4767-9971-1

Marion’s third Warm Bodies zombie novel (after 2013’s series prequel, The New Hunger) continues the story of a postapocalyptic world where some of the walking dead have achieved a sentient state—a conceit that some readers will have trouble buying into. The protagonist, known simply as R, is one of those evolved zombies; 67 days before the book begins, he found an “exit” from an unremembered number of years spent as a mindless flesh eater. During those two months, R’s mind has somehow reached the point where he can narrate his biography with luminous prose: “In simpler times, life was a one-act play, and when it was over we took our bows and caught our roses and enjoyed any applause we earned; then the spotlight faded and we shuffled backstage to nibble crackers in the greenroom of eternity.” The unconvincing central premise is coupled with a conventional story line, in which R and his allies are confronted by a threat from a militant group of human survivors, and underdeveloped characters, including R’s human love interest. (Feb.)