by by Alden Bell
Genre: Horror/Zombie Fiction
I don't always like giving a star rating to novels, but in this case, I really love to. Five HUGE glowing bright stars that will burn your eyes right out of your head.
As always, stars are given to books based on their genre and purpose and place on the grand bookshelf of life. What this means is a cute indie book bought for $1.99 which I give 4 stars isn’t better than the literary fiction I give 3 stars. Every piece of work has its place. Doesn’t mean there are not standards, just means you shouldn’t expect, for example, the slapstick comedy to have deeper meaning and connect with your heart on a deeper level than a piece of literary fiction.
And you shouldn’t necessarily expect a Zombie novel to be so expressive, metaphorical, and engrossing. And this is certainly a five star Zombie genre novel.
I grabbed this book since it was heralded as perfect for fans of The Passage. What I found is a book with more meaning than The Passage, it makes The Passage look just a little bubble gum.
You all know the drill; a post-apocalyptic world where the dead come back to life, try to eat the living, and they have been fairly successful destroying the population except for pockets here and there. The main character, who has never known the world before the “slugs” came, is struggling for a safe place to stay. She journeys around the landscape, unable to feel safe anywhere so is always moving on, once in a while she finds joy and comes to the conclusion that “god is slick”:… but her real battle is she can’t feel safe inside her skull for past deeds, so she can really never find rest.
“Am I evil?” the main character wants to know and shed her shame.
The reader wants to scream, “no, you’re not evil… you are just angry and hurt and grieving”… and the irony is, instead of the reader telling her this, it is the man who is hunting her down trying to kill her who feels she is special.. The same man who respects her and sees her for what she is, is the one who tracks her down like a gun slinging Valjert.
As the novel unfolds, its seems the human race is asking itself “are we evil? Do we deserve redemption?” With every character the girl meets, the reader wonders if they are friend or foe. The zombies are just barriers, it's her fellow humans who are the real danger. I couldn't help but think of Huck Finn traveling across the countryside who, finally decides “all right, I’ll go to hell.” Temple from 'Reapers' never gets past her angst to any such conviction.
The novel is full of beautiful prose, beautiful paradoxes, and flows sweet and deep. The dialogue in the novel is not in quotes, but stuck into the paragraph of the first person main character which sucks you even deeper into her world, and the dialect is written in short, memorable phrases such as “I’m gon kill u.”
The landscape, much like the world of "The Road," is a character in its own right, only in The Reapers there seems to be the possibility of redemption and rebirth dotted across the countryside, as either hope or reminders of what is lost, or what can maybe be rebuilt. Civilizations start to pop up, heroes emerge gathering people to safety, although the people are injured or maimed and full of despair and it's clear any new world will have the scars of the old on it forever.
To dance around the spoilers, expect a thrilling, deliciously readable novel where vengeance is gained but by the wrong hands, magnificent sights are finally seen but by perhaps the wrong eyes, and the Best Hill-Billy group since The Deliverance.
God is a slick God, and so is this author.
The Bookie Monster's Rating:
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.
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