The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell

After reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, I felt scarred for life, like I would never, EVER read another book about an apocalypse. Fast-forward three years and I guess I’m over it because some of my favorite books of the summer—The Passage, Mockingjay—are apocalyptic/dystopian in nature. My latest find is The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell, which takes place about a quarter century into a zombie apocalypse.

It’s the story of Temple, a teenager who can’t remember a time before people started awakening after death. The United States as we know it is gone—mostly destroyed except for the colonies of survivors sprinkled throughout the country. Temple wanders through the dangerous, zombie infested areas alone since she has lost the few people that mattered to her. When the book begins, she’s living on an island in an old lighthouse. She’s forced to move on when, thanks to a receding waterline, a “meatskin” makes it to the island. She leaves her temporary home and embarks on a journey that will take her across the country and into the paths of some very interesting people. Life on the road also means that she’ll have to face some of the dark inner-demons that torment her.

The Reapers Are the Angels is more about Temple and her odyssey and less about zombies than I expected. Temple is a memorable character, and I loved that she had a sense of wonder and appreciation for the beauty left in the world. I was really invested in her story, though my interest started to wan toward the end of the book. There’s one storyline in particular that seemed a bit ridiculous, even for a book about zombies. Still, I loved the majority of the book and I’m glad that I had a chance to read it.

The Reapers Are the Angels reminded me of a few different books like The Road (desolate setting, lack of quotation marks, no attempt to explain the beginning of the apocalypse) and Justin Cronin’s The Passage (similar literary writing style). I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the language the characters used reminded me of the TV show Firefly because it had a similar cowboy twang to it. I’d recommend The Reapers Are the Angels to anyone who likes these books/TV show and wants to read a literary take on a zombie apocalypse.

Quotes from The Reapers Are the Angels:

God is a slick god. Temple knows. She knows because of all the crackerjack miracles still to be seen on this ruined globe.

We’re all of us beholden to the beauty of the world, even the bad ones of us. Maybe the bad ones most of all.

Sometimes when there’s no light to see by, that’s when everything comes sharp and clear.

He looks like someone who could slap you or kiss you and you wouldn’t be able to tell which one is coming and it would mean the same thing either way.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars | Publisher: Holt Paperbacks | Pages: 240 | Source: Publisher | Buy on Amazon

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