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The Reapers Are the Angels: A Novel Paperback – August 3, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Born into a crumbling society plagued by zombies, all 15-year-old Temple knows is to kill or be killed. When she is assaulted at a safe house, she murders her human attacker, Abraham Todd, and runs from his vengeful brother, Moses. Temple soon acquires a traveling partner, a slow mute by the name of Maury, and begrudgingly takes responsibility for his care, remembering a young boy she swore to protect but couldn't save. Fleeing Moses, the "meatskins," and her own battered conscience, Temple still finds moments of simple joy in the brutal world. Bell (a pseudonym for Joshua Gaylord, author of Hummingbirds) has created an exquisitely bleak tale and an unforgettable heroine whose eye for beauty and aching need for redemption somehow bring wonder into a world full of violence and decay.
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“If you loved Justin Cronin's The Passage, this summer's vampire hit, you'll get a charge out of The Reapers Are the Angels. It's a literary/horror mashup that is unsettlingly good.” ―USA Today

The Reapers Are the Angels is a knockout, a fresh take on the zombie novel, with a heroine you can't help but root for as she braves the land of the living dead and the dead living, pursued by a foe far more dangerous than flesh-eaters and with the beacon of redemption flickering ahead. Alden Bell will snatch your attention and keep it until long after you close this book.” ―Tom Franklin, author of Hell at the Breach

“Alden Bell provides an astonishing twist on the southern gothic: like Flannery O'Connor with zombies.” ―Michael Gruber, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Air and Shadows

“Alden Bell has managed something improbable and striking: a disconcertingly beautiful tale of zombie apocalypse. The Reapers Are the Angels is soaked in all the blood that any horror fan could desire, the effluvia rendered in a high Southern Gothic style as redolent of rotting magnolia as anything written by William Faulkner or Cormac McCarthy.” ―Charlie Huston, author of Sleepless

“... This is a must-read for those who like their literature both brain-specked and philosophical.” ―


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 1 edition (August 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805092439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805092431
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (213 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alden Bell is the pen name of Joshua Gaylord (Hummingbirds) who lives in New York. For the past decade, he has taught high school English at an Upper East Side prep school (a modern orthodox co-educational Yeshiva). Since 2002, he has also taught literature and cultural studies courses as an adjunct professor at the New School. Prior to coming to New York, he grew up in the heart of Orange County: Anaheim, home of Disneyland. He graduated from Berkeley with a degree in English and a minor in creative writing, where his instructors included Bharati Mukherjee, Leonard Michaels and Maxine Hong Kingston. In 2000, he received his Master's and Ph.D. in English at New York University, specializing in twentieth-century American and British literature.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

98 of 103 people found the following review helpful By A. Reid VINE VOICE on June 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Well, this wasn't what I expected at all.

Having last entered the world of zombies in The Forest of Hands and Teeth, given the age of the protagonist (15) and the rather skimpy information on the review copy, I guess was expecting another young adult "message" horror novel. I like that kind of thing, so why not?

I was not expecting this work of art that caught me up and shook me and broke my heart because it is both so beautiful and so sad. Zombies: the new face of magic realism. Who knew?

The language is flawless. It is unobtrusive, but lush and almost lyrical. The pacing, too, flawless. Not a passage drags, nothing wasted. The characters are strong and believable; their motivations make sense; their voices are clear and distinct.

I will not kid you. This book is intense. Temple may be 15, but the life she lives is very adult, and the situations she encounters are gut-wrenching. The book made me cry, more than once; it isn't going to be a good fit for everyone. It's a pretty grim world, and an unflinchingly violent one, but in spite of the monsters it's *not* a conventional horror story. If you come for catharsis, you'll get it, but maybe not the kind you expect. This isn't spine tingling; it's soul twisting. I won't be surprised if reviews are highly divided; those who are looking for conventional horror or are even further afield as I was may not be universally pleased. This is a great book - a masterpiece, maybe - for the *right* reader.

The book left me thoughtful and sad and grateful for what I have. Grateful, too, to have read it. I'm still caught up in the aftermath, having finished it moments before I started writing the review, so it's really too soon to say--but I *think* I may have just found a contender for my shortlist of "favorite books."
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Pavarti on February 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
DISCLAIMER - purchased in Borders in NYC

Alden Bell's The Reapers are The Angels is the perfect combination of Charles Portis' True Grit and the classic zombie flick Night of the Living Dead. If you are a fan of the highest quality literature, thought provoking themes and the supernatural than there is nothing lacking in this book. I often pick up a book, hoping for something new, something unexpected, only to be disappointed with another piece of drivel. Now don't get me wrong I'm not above drivel *cough*Twilight*cough* but the quest for quality adult literature is an ongoing one. In fact, I often feel like Don Quixote himself, always trying but never succeeding. For once my high hopes were rewarded with a thoroughly enjoyable and at times profoundly disturbing story.

Reapers follows a young girl named Temple who has learned that not only isn't it safe to live in the world because of the "meateaters" but sometimes because the other surviving humans are the worst monsters of all. At the beginning of the book she is living alone on an isolated island, sleeping in an abandoned lighthouse and fishing for food. We are immediately given the sense of desolation that she feels, her language is unsophisticated and she is harder than anyone should have to become. But Temple was born into this world of horror and death, this is where she belongs and the only thing she knows. In the manner of a true survivor she can find beauty in the simple things around her and even in the very monsters that threaten her life.

Bell tells a simple tale. A girl is forced to leave her island and travels with the dream of someday seeing Niagara Falls Along the way she meets many different kinds of people and monsters, until in the end she must face what it ultimately means to be human.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mark Matthews on December 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As always, stars are given to books based on their genre and purpose and place on the grand bookshelf of life. What this means is a cute indie book bought for $1.99 which I give 4 stars isn't better than the literary fiction I give 3 stars. Every piece of work has its place. Doesn't mean there are not standards, just means you shouldn't expect, for example, the slapstick comedy to have deeper meaning and connect with your heart on a deeper level than a piece of literary fiction.

And you shouldn't necessarily expect a Zombie novel to be so expressive, metaphorical, and engrossing. And this is certainly a five star Zombie genre novel.

I grabbed this book since it was heralded as perfect for fans of The Passage. What I found is a book with more meaning than The Passage, it makes The Passage look just a little bubble gum.

You all know the drill; a post-apocalyptic world where the dead come back to life, try to eat the living, and they have been fairly successful destroying the population except for pockets here and there. The main character, who has never known the world before the "slugs" came, is struggling for a safe place to stay. She journeys around the landscape, unable to feel safe anywhere so is always moving on, once in a while she finds joy and comes to the conclusion that "god is slick":... but her real battle is she can't feel safe inside her skull for past deeds, so she can really never find rest.

"Am I evil?" the main character wants to know and shed her shame.

The reader wants to scream, "no, you're not evil... you are just angry and hurt and grieving"... and the irony is, instead of the reader telling her this, it is the man who is hunting her down trying to kill her who feels she is special..
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