Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Review - The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell (5/5 stars)

I got a copy of this book through Librarything.com's Early Reviewer program.  I saw the cover and read the premise and instantly was dying to read it.  I loved this book.  This is a zombie novel with vision and heart, that can even be considered high literature.  It is haunting and beautiful and thought-provoking while at the same time being brutally realistic. I could not put it down and ended up reading it in a day.

Temple is a fifteen girl who was born after the apocalypse; that is after dead human beings started turning into "Meatskins" and attacking and eating live humans.  She is a tough girl who is struggling to find a place for herself.  She doesn't need anyone to protect her, but she needs a purpose and she uncannily finds beauty and wonder in the dreariest of places.  She tries to fit in with a local community until a man attempts to rape her; she kills him.  Then she is forced to flee with the man's brother Moses in pursuit.  She stumbles upon Maury, a slow mute carrying his dead grandmother and being chased by a pack a meatskins.  When she finds an address in Maury's pocket that states there are people waiting to take care of him, she decides to get Maury to his new home.

This is not a happy read.  It is gory and dark and brutal.  But somehow it is beautiful too.  Temple is a tough girl and a heroine that you really want to cheer on.  She is so practical and so capable.  She doesn't resent life, she just deals.  At one point someone asks her if she hates the meatheads and her response is "Why?  They are just being what they are."  Temple's real skill (besides surviving everything) is finding beauty in the craziest of places.

Bell as a writer did an excellent job.  The writing style is a bit different; speech is signified by a new paragraph or line rather than quotes and everything is written from an outside view.  For this book it really works though.  Bell's description is fabulous and really makes you feel like you are there with Temple.  I really enjoyed it a lot.  The characters he creates are wonderful too, full of depth and interesting.  Bell delves quite a bit into the philosophy of life in this story.  This is not your normal zombie story; it is more about humans and their quest to find a purpose, their quest to find beauty and hope, and their willingness to appreciate the good things they have (no matter how bad other things get).

The relationship between Temple and Moses is an interesting one.  Moses swears to hunt Temple down and kill her, yet somehow they seem to be the only characters in the book who really understand each other.  They understand survival, hope, and beauty and this draws them to an understanding even as Moses is hunting Temple.

This book will leave you with a lot to think about and probably leave you a little scared.  You can't help but think about how you would hold up in a similar situation and if you could be as brave as Temple.

Overall this was a wonderful read.  The writing style is perfect and makes this zombie book a work of fine literature.  The story has equal parts action, adventure, and philosophy.  It is incredibly engaging and almost impossible to put down.   I loved it and will be looking forward to Bell's future works.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
The Reapers Are the Angels: A Novel

1 comment:

  1. ooo, sounds like a good one for my zombie pile.