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Zone One: A Novel
Format: Hardcover|Change
Price:$16.72+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on September 4, 2017
I freakin' loved this book. I don't really read zombie fiction, but I'd bet this is the very best zombie book ever written. It's everything you (I) wish "The Walking Dead" was, but just isn't.

Very basic description: the zombie apocalypse has been underway for a few years and reconstruction is happening. We follow one guy who's part of a militia-like group connected to the newly formed government in Buffalo. His job is to clear out and reclaim Manhattan, Zone One.

So, yeah, it's also a New York book. It's so New York.

I think the two "problems" I would offer up are also its strengths.

First, the writing is powerhouse. Almost every sentence is a work of art. This is no exaggeration. Every. Sentence. Why is this a problem? It's a tough, tough read. It takes forever to read a page. This isn't because it's slow; rather, it's slow going. One has to pause and navigate and consider these blow-you-away sentences. Also, I assigned it to my Eng 101 class, thinking, Famous Writer! Zombie Novel! I was in search of, um, description. I hadn't read it. I wanted to do so.

Well, they're dying. The description part paid-off: he's amazing. But it's a hard read. This actually is a bit of a problem. Chock it up to several things: anti-intellectualism in America? Kids don't read? Or all of these things, plus Whitehead needs to bring it down a notch, make it a little more accessible. I think he actually did with THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD. He is clearly a great writer, and I'd love to know how long it takes for him to write a single sentence.

Second, there is zero cheesiness in this book. It's moody and contemplative and philosophical and smart. Again, why might this be a problem? Its philosophical conclusion is not my own philosophical conclusion. If Colson would like to talk about it, I've got a different--dare I say better--end.
Alas, he's the author, not me. And I loved this book.
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on March 5, 2016
The story takes place over the span of three days as the protagonist, a citizen soldier "sweeper" tasked with cleaning up residual zombies in Lower Manhattan along with two team members, searches and cleans out a few mid-rise buildings in a small safe zone, destroying the few zombies they find there. Much of the story is told in flashbacks (confusingly intermingled with the present time narrative) which detail the protagonist's musings on the fall of civilization due to a zombie plague and his experiences surviving the first few years of the aftermath. Almost nothing happens, and certainly nothing new or interesting which adds to or reinvents the zombie apocalypse genre. Skip this one, particularly if you are looking for any entertainment or adventure.
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on June 5, 2017
An enjoyable read even though there was no real plot. If you are looking for non-stop zombie action this probably isn't the book for you. But if you are looking for a well written allegorical, literary novel then this is a good one.
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on July 25, 2015
This book was a good read. I would love to read the book this would have been if an excellent editor had been involved. It had potential and the writing was at times beautiful but it needed cleaned up and the ending was an absolute cop out. I was disappointed at the end that I'd wasted so many hours finishing this.
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on October 16, 2017
Kind of a Zombie book, but more of a stream-of-consciousness snoozer. The guy can write, sure, but plot helps. I don't recommend.
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on August 2, 2012
The literary world over the last few years has been somewhat obsessed with the undead--novels featuring vampires, zombies, werewolves, mythical creatures, etc. are more popular than ever before. Yet there hasn't quite been a zombie novel like Zone One, Colson Whitehead's thoughtful and thought-provoking new book.

It's a time in the distant future and the world has been hit by a pandemic (referred to as the Last Night) which divided its citizens into two classes--the living and the living dead. While an initial military operation killed many of those who turned into zombies following the Last Night, brigades of citizen soldiers, at the behest of the provisional government in Buffalo, have been tasked with clearing out the rest of New York City so it can eventually be resettled. Mark Spitz is one of those citizen soldiers, and over the course of three surreal days, Zone One follows his efforts and those of his fellow recruits as they sweep city buildings and kill any remaining zombies that had been able to hide, or were trapped when the plague hit. The book cuts between the present day and accounts of Mark's attempts to survive in the early days of the pandemic.

I've referred to this as an "intellectual zombie novel," because while there is no shortage of lurid violence as the zombies attack and are captured, the book spends more time exploring themes of survival, courage, mediocrity, and the fight to distinguish yourself in a world characterized by unique people. Whitehead is a tremendously gifted writer and his use of language is mesmerizing at times, but I felt at times that the book moved very slowly, because despite the action, everything unfolds at a fairly meditative pace. This is a book worth reading, but it's important you keep in mind that this is a book much heavier on contemplation than action. But Colson Whitehead has made a worthy, if somewhat unique, contribution to the zombie "genre."
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on April 3, 2017
Took me a while to get used to his particular style. Like his boice.
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on July 9, 2017
Visually interesting; good character development - no heroics, just survival; pace follows the events closely, so the reader gets to join in a bitking
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on September 2, 2016
The author is an excellent writer, no doubt, and does a good job navigating a dark journey through the eyes of a sympathetic and somewhat detached observer as the main character.
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on April 20, 2016
The writer makes this a pretty hard slog at times. I want to read the version where an editor cut it back some in terms of language.
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