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13 Jun 2011

Book Review: The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell

"You know what I think? she says.
What do you think?
She points through the hole into the dark throat of the diseased landscape.
I think you're more dangerous than what's out there.
Well, girl, he says, that's a funny thing you just uttered.
Because I was just thinkin the same thing about you."

Older than her years and completely alone, Temple is trying to live one day at a time in a post-apocalyptic world, where the undead roam endlessly, and the remnants of mankind seem, at times, to retain little humanity themselves.
This is the world she was born into. Temple has known nothing else. Her journey takes her to far-flung places, to people struggling to maintain some semblance of civilization - and to those who have created a new world order.
When she comes across the helpless Maury, she attempts to set one thing right. If she can just get him back to his family in Texas then maybe it will bring redemption for some of the terrible things she's done in her past. Because Temple has had to fight to survive, has done things she's not proud of and, along the road, she's made enemies...

The Reapers are the Angels is not so much a book about a Zombie Apocalypse as it is about the living humans left alive afterwards. 25 years ago the world went straight to hell and so for 15 year old Temple - this is the only world she's ever known. Taught not to read and write but to shoot and survive. Carrying with her the memory of her almost-brother Malcolm, Temple encounters groups travelling the country, cities of people attempting to rebuild a civilization and some very strange mutations. Oh. And lets not forget the Zombies. Countless 'slugs' of which Temple has no problems dealing with.

The narrative is almost beautiful in its' violence and gruesomeness. The strength of this book is seen so acutely through the clarity of the landscapes and each of the characters; which makes it so unbelievably easy to inhabit the world and it's subsequent dangers. The characters Temple meets are each special in themselves - the silent Maury, the easy-going Lee, the sickening Abraham. But it is her sadistic dance with Moses that has to be my favourite. The depth of understanding they have for each-other is none that I have seen before.
Talk of God and Religion is apparent throughout - as you might have guessed simple from the title - but it fits in well with this broken and wasted husk of a world. Also the lack of speech marks takes a bit of getting used to, a-la-McCarthy's The Road, but like The Road I think it fits in well. If I had a rating system on this site I would give it five stars! *laughs*

Published: September 2010 by Macmillan


HR Harkness said...

Ooh, I hadn't even heard of this one and now I can't wait to read it, what a great review!

Alex said...

Thank you! You'll enjoy it, no doubt about that ;)