The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell
Author: Alden Bell
Release Date: August 3, 2010
Dates Read: June 5-8, 2012
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.
I thought I would be a fan of this book. I really did. I like zombie books, and I like a good survival story in a post-apocalyptic setting. Combine that with a strong heroine, and I thought I had myself an enjoyable novel. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I did not like this book.
It started out well enough. Actually, scratch that. It started off with me wondering how I received an e-Book with such broken formatting. I quickly realized that it was another of those stylistic things. I’ve been taken aback by this before in Blood Red Road and Shatter Me, so I moved past it and did my best to move on. However, I think it does bear mentioning that you should be prepared to find zero quotation marks in this book. In a book that uses dialogue and inner thoughts to drive the plot, it sometimes becomes difficult to muddle through exactly who is speaking, and if Temple is speaking aloud or in her head.
That aside, the book started off on a pretty good foot. It was a book about a young girl making her way in a country defeated by mindless zombies. She is thoughtful, considering God and the way things may have been before — when there were enough people to keep civilization running smoothly. But Temple knows that God works in mysterious ways, and that nature will always win. She moves on from place to place as the zombies or nature itself force her out. Pretty soon on from there it becomes apparent what the problem with this book is. At least, what I consider to be the problem.
That is, the author. Trying far too hard. This novel is chock full of purple prose and leading situations. Alden Bell has tried too hard to craft a literary zombie novel, and to me it shows. This is a book the author clearly intended to be analyzed in an English class, with students pain-stakingly examining between the lines for evidence of allegory, symbolism, motifs and themes. In my opinion, this is not a book written to be enjoyed, and it was not. I stuck it through to the end, because I hate leaving a book unfinished. But by the last few chapters, I was sorry I had done so, because the forced literary elements just piled on at the novel’s conclusion.
I’d only recommend this novel if you consider yourself a person that enjoys the kind of work that goes with reading a novel not just for enjoyment, but for hidden messages. Perhaps you will find yourself a good match for this book.