Book Review: Zone One by Colson Whitehead

10365343Title: Zone One

Author: Colson Whitehead

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Zombies, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Fantasy, Literary Fiction, Novels

Publisher: Doubleday

Published: October 9,2011

Page Amount: 259 pages

Blurb From Goodreads: In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuild­ing civilization under orders from the provisional govern­ment based in Buffalo. Their top mission: the resettlement of Manhattan. Armed forces have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street—aka Zone One—but pockets of plague-ridden squatters remain. While the army has eliminated the most dangerous of the infected, teams of civilian volunteers are tasked with clearing out a more innocuous variety—the “malfunctioning” stragglers, who exist in a catatonic state, transfixed by their former lives. And things start to go wrong. 

Why Read: Halloween had just approached, and in classic procrastination mode- I had decided to bag all my horror reads at the end of October, giving myself no time to read them as per usual. Zone One, I’d heard about it from here and there – that it was a classic zombie book, and an absolute necessity in any reader’s inventory, if you were a horror fan. Well. I’m a horror fan, and I do love a good zombie book… but this book, was unique.

Review: It is difficult to know where to start with Zone One. On on hand, the ambience is so expertly formulated that I found myself slightly concerned home alone. Who knew if the world had ended while I was napping and that I was now in a foreign country while zombies roamed wild? Certainly not me. So in that sense, this book was fantastic – because the fear got to me.

On the other hand… I have quite a lot of issues in the manner that the story was told. The character development was not really a factor, and although the reader eventually gets Mark’s origin story of sorts – it has none of the revealing characteristics that I am used to receiving. In other words, I didn’t really feel like I ever got to know the characters. While I certainly understood Mark’s motivations, he was not exactly the relatable type. He describes himself in certain parts of the novel as the ultimate average, who would have amounted to nothing in our world as it stands now. However, upon the arrival of the zombies – he became the best of the best, because everyone else was lost. Perhaps that is the case, but could he at least have explained it better?

The ambience comes essentially from the writing style, a very dry and informational style, which forwarded the idea that this was no fiction. Zombies were among us, and the new reality was one of horrific consequences, and odd new normal of stragglers, camps for the living, and a constant fear of death. I did enjoy that bit. And while the writing was what kept me going, the plot almost made me stop. I could not identify what was exposition, what was the climax and what was the ending of the story. In a sense, that could be a way of telling the story, but I felt as though it was a lack of telltale signs.

All in all – a decent book, and I’m not sorry I read it – but there are better reads.

Verdict; Pass.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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