There are hundreds possibly thousands of post apocalyptic novels. The best I’ve read, McCammon’s “Swan Song,” King’s, “the Stand” and Cronin’s, “the Passage,” all deal with worlds that have been ravaged by something and focus on the human element of survival.
It is very hard to find a decent zombie novel though. Some of Brian Keene’s efforts have been enjoyable and Max Brooks does an interesting take on the genre but I have yet to find a zombie novel that I’ve really enjoyed....Until now.
The Reapers are the Angels is set roughly 25 years after the dead started returning to not so dead. The book focuses on Temple a young girl roughly 15 years old but with the experience of one who is much older.
Temple knows what it takes to survive. At the first sign of trouble she moves on. She has no emotional ties, just takes what she needs and goes. The story follows her progress across America. The people she encounters and the incidents she endures. Each of these episodes are intriguing and well portrayed. Whether it be communities in denial of the world around them, or mad mutants who feel they are superior you get the sense of desperation and loneliness of Temple’s plight.
Running alongside this survival, a carefully revealed back story is revealed that hints of a past family where Temple was happy.
Temple herself is a great character. She is hard and cuts herself off from getting close to other humans but at the same time displays a good sense of loyalty and at times subtle tenderness. It keeps her character fresh and the reader interested.
If surviving the zombies (slugs) wasn’t enough. Temple is also constantly looking over a man determined to kill her. It is this relationship that is the strongest part of the novel. Despite their hatred for each other, the two begin to recognise that they understand each other better then anyone else they have come across. The dynamic is interesting and plausible and concludes in excellent fashion.
Overall this is the first zombie book that I can say is really good. Others have been enjoyable but Alden Bell has struck the correct balance between portraying the horror or the situation and concentrating on the human elements of the story. My rating: 8.8