January 26, 2013

Book review: The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell

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Zombies have infested a fallen America. A young girl named Temple is on the run. Haunted by her past and pursued by a killer, Temple is surrounded by death and danger, hoping to be set free.

For twenty-five years, civilization has survived in meager enclaves, guarded against a plague of the dead. Temple wanders this blighted landscape, keeping to herself and keeping her demons inside her heart. She can't remember a time before the zombies, but she does remember an old man who took her in and the younger brother she cared for until the tragedy that set her on a personal journey toward redemption. Moving back and forth between the insulated remnants of society and the brutal frontier beyond, Temple must decide where ultimately to make a home and find the salvation she seeks. 

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

Part zombie story and part literary fiction, reading The Reapers are the Angels reminded me of reading books like Huckleberry Finn and Of Mice and Men in English class. In other words, the writing style didn't work for me. It's not what I want in a zombie novel.

Some reviews praised the writing, and while I can see why some people liked it, I personally found it to detract from the story. I've read books where the author misspells words or doesn't use correct punctuation on purpose. When it works, like in Moira Young's Blood Red Road, it's because the story is told in first person point of view and it sounds like the main character narrating to you. In this case, the story is told in third person point of view, and I didn't understand why the author chose to write this way except that he thought he was being clever.

The book wasn't all bad though. If you can get past the writing, there's an interesting story among all of the words. For zombie fans, there's some violence and gore that is typical of the genre. Temple was also a character that I could have liked if the book was written differently. She had some depth and nuances that made her compelling but not very sympathetic to me.

Overall, if you like literary fiction and want to try a zombie book, this might be for you. However, if you're looking for a straight-up entertaining story about zombies, I recommend Jonathan Maberry's Rot & Ruin series or Mira Grant's Newsflesh Trilogy instead.

I read this book as part of the Authors A to Z reading challenge. Next up: Die Trying by Lee Child.

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