Tuesday, July 20, 2010
"The world is pretty much what she remembers, all burnt up and pallid - like someone came along with a sponge and soaked up all the color and the moisture too and left everything gray and bone-dry."
When I first opened the pages of The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I knew there were zombies, and I knew there was a young girl on her own trying to survive the post-apocalyptic world that the story takes place in. Were the zombies suppose to "lighten" the story up? There have been so many zombie mash-ups lately that I wasn't quite sure where this novel was going to fit in. I couldn't help thinking the story was Cormac McCarthy's The Road with a sprinkling of Zombies. But as I started reading I found out that this wasn't your average zombie novel. The Reapers Are The Angels is true Southern Gothic, that delivers a haunting story of survival and the longing for forgiveness.
This is the story of 15 year old Temple, who has always lived in this world where the meatskins, the disease carrying zombies, have over run the suburbs and the inner cities, and no one is safe. It's been 25 years since civilization had turned into a vast wasteland, and where the zombies amble along aimlessly, attacking any living creature they encounter. Temple has lived a lot in her 15 years. She has learned to survive with her wits and her knife. She's alone, traveling the roads by herself, and punishing herself for something she shouldn't really blame herself for, until she reaches out to a feeble minded young man, Maury, who reminds her of another innocent in her life. Maybe this time she can redeem herself for last time...
Alden Bell paints a vivid picture of a devastated world. Through Temples eyes we see the emptiness, the hopelessness, but the need to work together and move forward. It's eerie how whole cities seem untouched, yet no one exists there. And how some people have built communities in places that you normally wouldn't and have created "safe" zones in other places. Well written interesting characters whose instincts to survive and try to live a normal life are very realistic. The portrayal of what goes on in this world, and how Temple handles it all is what will keep you turning the pages. Temple herself has an interesting way of philosophizing about life that you wouldn't think a 15 year old with little education and who can't read would, but I chalk that up to having good common sense and having to grow up fast in order to survive her day to day life. The Reapers Are The Angels is gritty and harsh, but tempered with a young girls need for redemption.
The Reapers Are The Angels should appeal to people who enjoy dystopian fiction with a splash of the undead, but Temple herself may attract fiction readers who would enjoy reading about this one tough gal!
Thanks to Jason of Henry Holt and Company for sending along a review copy of The Reapers Are The Angels.