Music is powerful, and when it fuses with story, both become supercharged. One of cinema’s best tricks is to inject feelings directly into the heart via a well-chosen musical cue. There’s no real way to do this for the written word—nothing can sync up with the private narrative unfolding in your head—but I’m going to try it anyway.
I listened to a lot of music while writing the Warm Bodies series. Some songs helped me develop the story—I listened to them on walks, runs, and drives, squeezing images and feelings out of the songs and into the scenes. Some songs fueled the writing itself, getting me in the mood and helping me stay there as they played on loop for hours. And some songs found me later on, catching my ear with a shockingly relevant lyric or a perfectly matched emotion, evoking scenes from the story every time I heard them.
So I made a playlist of all those songs. And I wrote a guide to connect those songs to their place in the story.
It’s a soundtrack! For books!
It’s not meant to play while you actually read the books—that would never sync up right. Read first, then listen, and combine them in your mind. Open the playlist in Spotify and use the guide below to see where you are in the story as the playlist unfolds. Feel the music infuse the images in your head. Experience the story in a whole new way…and maybe cry a bit more than you expected.
I am dead, but it’s not so bad. I’ve learned to live with it.
A man called R wanders the maze of his inexplicable existence. Without a past, a future, or a present. A corpse who wants not to be.
Even now, here, in the darkest and strangest of places with the most macabre of company, this music moves her and her life pulses hard…I feel the flatline of my existence disrupting, forming heartbeat hills and valleys.
Something new in the endless gray. A spark of light, a flicker of warmth. Sharing a beer with a girl.
In the sunny fields of my imagination…
A sweet, simple, Golden Age romance. An indulgence, a fantasy, a future they’ll never reach…but can it hurt to try?
In this moment, the most I’d ever hope for would be for her to lay her head on my chest, let out a warm, contented breath, and sleep.
A night in the suburban ruins. Lying side by side, one heart slowly opening, another fighting to beat.
We start lumbering north on the southbound freeway, and the thunder drifts away toward the mountains like it’s scared of us. Here we are on the road. We must be going somewhere.
Corpses rise up for something more than killing. Traversing the world they helped ruin, walking toward something new. Venturing into the world of the Living.
I look into her eyes, splashing in their icy waters like a shipwrecked sailor grasping for the raft. But there is no raft. ‘Julie,” I say. “I need . . . to show you something."
R huddles in the rain, fresh blood on his teeth. Does Julie know what he’s done? Is her kindness a trap? Since it’s all about to end, he’ll make one more confession…and find a shocking forgiveness.
“What do we do?” she pleads, confounding me with her eyes, the vast oceans in her irises. “What do we have left?” I have no answer for her. But I look into her face, her pale cheeks, her red lips bright with life and tender as an infant’s, and I understand that I love her. And if she is everything, maybe that’s answer enough.
I feel a tiny thrill creeping through me. What signal have they received? Between the fall of those bones and the strange new energy pulsing out from this rooftop like radio waves, is there a notice blaring loud in their empty skulls? An announcement that their time is over?
A change. A cure. The first day of a new future.
Like perennial bulbs dried up and waiting in the winter earth, they are bursting back to life all on their own.
Children run through the airport, inviting the Dead to live. The world takes a breath.
The airport spreads out below us like a thrown gauntlet. We’re fumbling in the dark, but at least we’re in motion. We will not let Earth become a tomb, a mass grave spinning through space. We will exhume ourselves. We will fight the curse and break it.
A revolution begins. Sun-yellow eyes look to the horizon, so full of hope they can barely see the stormclouds…
A mother and daughter mourn the end of the world they loved. One rises to the challenge. The other sinks beneath it.
“You’re not dead!”
Bruised and bleeding, Julie throws out a line to a drowning Nora, unaware that others are listening too. A man and a boy, sinking into death. A seed of hope takes root at the bottom of their graves.