Thursday, May 17, 2012

Zone One by Colson Whitehead: Review by AimeeKay

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.

Mark Spitz is a member of one of the civilian teams work­ing in lower Manhattan. Alternating between flashbacks of Spitz’s desperate fight for survival during the worst of the outbreak and his present narrative, the novel unfolds over three surreal days, as it depicts the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, and the impossible job of coming to grips with the fallen world.

And then things start to go wrong.

Both spine chilling and playfully cerebral, Zone One brilliantly subverts the genre’s conventions and deconstructs the zombie myth for the twenty-first century.
OMG!! So nice of Melissa to feed my zombie addiction. And to feed it with such a great read. Really she is too sweet!

Can you tell I really enjoyed this one?

So a bit of a summery on this one. Zone One follows Mark Spitz and his sweeper group through the the new zombie filled New York. Their job? Clear out any zombies the marines missed on their initial assault that started the effort to take back New York. Through a series of flashbacks Mark takes us through his life from before the "Last Night" up until present day.

This is a much more psychological look at the zombie apocalypse. Don't get me wrong the novel has it's fair share of action and gore. But it delves deep into how Mark views the world and how the horror around him affects him, and how it affects those he comes in contact with. You really get inside the survivors heads, and you can feel their desperation, as well as their need for hope.

I was intrigued when I started reading Zone One. The authors writing style and descriptions held my attention from the first page. As we are introduced to Mark through his memories of his uncle in New York, and as he starts to analyze why he is so drawn to the city. The story itself takes place over three days in Marks present day, but his flashbacks make it seem like a much longer time period. The jumping between his memories could get a bit disconcerting. For example when he begins to tell Gary about how he got his name. You don't actually find out about the situation they are in when Gary asks him about it until quite a while later. But Whitehead weaves together Marks memories with his present point of view with amazing skill. While all of his recollections don't seem to have an obvious point at the moment they are being retold, they all are specific pieces in the puzzle that is the main character. Once all the pieces have been assembled the picture of Mark Spitz and the new world he abides in is brought to stark clarity.

Even if you aren't a Zombiephile like me, I definitely recommend getting a copy of Zone One. But may I recommend you clear yourself time to read it. Take time and really enjoy Whitehead's writing and the world he brings to life. In my opinion it was over way to soon, and I gladly would have read more. I'm hoping the author plans to write more of Spitz's story in the future. But even if he doesn't I will definitely be on the look out to pick up more of this authors work as soon as I can.

Thanks again to Melissa for the awesome read!

Til next time!


  1. Zombies, but in a somewhat different book. Sure why not. I have read the more usual zombie books and this more psychological sounds good

  2. Zombies................


    and I am not surprised that Aimeekay is the one who read it :)

    Great review and now on my must get list :)

  3. LOL! Zombiephile! That, I'm definitely not, but I'm trying to be one. I just don't think I've got the brains to pull it off. LOL

  4. Sounds like a novel I could love. Dystopian is my fave. Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Thanks AimeeKay for the rockin' review! I'm so glad you enjoyed it so much!

    @Felicia... uh you sayin' I don't have the bwains for eet??? Darn you and your logic! :P LOL

  6. I'm not a huge zombie fan but this one sounds really good. At first I wasn't sure it wasn't part of a series, but it sounds more like a standalone book. If that's the case, I will have to give it a go.

  7. Oh wow. I'm not much of a zombie fan either. This sounds very good. So glad to see you loved it so. ;D Thank you!

  8. Glad you guys like the review! :)

    @ryan- yes it seems to be a stand alone. I can see at the end where it could lead into another book....but because of how the book itself read it feels as if it is complete at the end.


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