Review: The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell

Posted date: 2011-11-04

Posted By : Marc

The Reapers are the Angels
by Alden Bell
240 pages
Holt Paperbacks (August 3, 2010)

I have always been a zombie movie watcher. In the waning years of the last century, my girlfriend (now wife) and I amused ourselves with numerous zombie movies of the 60s and 70s, both classic and obscure. Until reading Seth Grahame-Smith alteration of Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I had never read or even considered horror-type novels (notable exception: Dracula by Bram Stoker). I liked that one enough to go back and read the original Pride and Prejudice. I wondered, then, about the zombie portion. A blogger I like, Tbogg, described this book as

... what you would get if you asked Harper Lee, Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy to collaborate on a Walking Dead script.
I'm not familiar with Flannery O'Connor, but the rest of the description sounded intriguing.

The desolation was not as bleak as we often see in stories of the ruined society genre. It is not a cheery picture by any stretch, but it is somewhat less hopeless than most. We follow the path of a somewhat bright illiterate teen aged girl named Temple. The author sprinkles background information throughout the story, but just enough information is given to leave some sense of mystery. She had been born when society was already in deep collapse, which provides for an interesting perspective.

Unlike most stories of the genre, Temple is not on a quest. She is simply living. In the course of her travels, the protagonist encounters characters that are fully developed, rather than the simple hollow characters that often fill in the background. When she finally does acquire a purpose, it is almost ancillary to the narrative. Imaginative and rich (as much as can be expected, given the state), the story was never silly or over-the-top. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a simple adventure story and is not turned off by the intrinsic darkness of the topic.

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