Thursday, August 8, 2013

[REVIEW] Zone One

Publisher: Doubleday
Author: Colson Whitehead
  • ISBN-10: 0385528078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385528078
Number of Pages: 259
Release Date: Oct 18, 2011

Book Blurb: A pandemic has devastated the planet, sorting humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. After the worst of the plague is over, armed forces stationed in Chinatown’s Fort Wonton have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street—aka Zone One. Mark Spitz is a member of one of the three-person civilian sweeper units tasked with clearing lower Manhattan of the remaining feral zombies. Zone One unfolds over three surreal days in which Spitz is occupied with the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder (PASD), and the impossible task of coming to terms with a fallen world. And then things start to go terribly wrong…

Review: This book comes with quotes from reviews made on renowned review sites such as Kirkus Review and Booklist, as well as from Publishers Weekly. Where they are very positive and call the book "his most readable book to date" (Kirkus Review), I found it to be just the opposite.

Sure, the pop culture references and the language in itself are very clever, but as I read I couldn't stop thinking about how inaccessible the book felt to me. For me, the combo "literary novel meets zombies" just didn't work.

One could perhaps attribute this to the fact that I'm Swedish, but I've used English for over 30 years now, studied it at university and mostly read books written in English. The language in itself is very poetic, and while the literary novel-zombie novel combo feels really off to me, that's not my main issue. 

For me, I think the key element was the main character. He's just so...blah. And, like the book in general, I found him, too, inaccessible. I couldn't care less what happened to him. I actually rooted for the zombies, like in Warm Bodies. But then, perhaps that was the point? That would definitely have been clever.

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