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I like zombies! Love zombies. They dont love me though. I enjoyed the new approach to zombies in this novel and there are some new ideas and zombie antics that are very enjoyable but, BUT, it doesnt half go on. And on. And on. And on. And on. It's like the author has his word count on and is using a thesaurus to get to his target. I'm half way through and the zombie bits are great but then it goes off on a tangent right in the middle of the action and remembers back to some boring thing that is probably meant to be intellectual but I just wanted back to the action. I got half way through and decided to take my own tangential approach and start reading different books, one day I may return to see the end but the pace is so slow I may expire before I get there.
I love a good zombie book, so when this one was recommended to me (at an academic conference of all places) as being a literary take on the genre, I thought I'd give it a try.
I've got to say, after reading it I'm not at all sure that the "literary zombie" works. The first section read as overwritten with far too much description. In fact, this continues throughout the novel (why use one word when eighty will do?) and as a result it gets hard to follow where in the narrative you are with the main character, Mark Spitz. There's an awful lot of introspection/how he got where he was which is mingled with the main action and it can sometimes be hard to follow the train of thought.
That said, after the first third (where I nearly gave up), I started to get it a bit more. This, it seemed to me, is a satire on how we live now (like zombies) - it's all too easy to see yourself as one of the stragglers that Mark Spitz is clearing up. I loved the idea that Mark Spitz had the feeling that optimism (hope for the returning world) would destroy the human race. (At the same academic conference where this was recommended to me, the notion of "cruel optimism" was discussed - the feeling that things will get better when they never do and never will which undoes people).
This was okay as a book - I had to read it in one sitting or I would have given up completely and also lost my thread. It's not the best zombie book I've ever read, but it is a thoughtful one.
Having enjoyed "The Nickel Boys" and "The Underground Railroad" I was really looking forward to this. It's a hard read. I don't know why I persevered but something wouldn't let me give up. The writing is quite compelling in asmuchas one gets absorbed by the imagery. As to what it's all about beneath the surface story I haven't got a clue. Too clever for me.
A brilliant take on the zombie apocalypse. Not an easy read - you need to pay attention as the narrative weaves its complex web - but intelligent, thought-provoking, and gripping. Despite its literary chops it’s as action-packed, breathless, and gore-drenched as any of its pulp brethren. Couldn’t put it down...
Set a fair time after survivors of an apocalypse have organised themselves into a military society of sorts, this novel reads more like a Vietnam or Gulf War story than horror. The "soldiers" patrol the streets of New York, clearing out zombies, some who have a condition where they perform a repetitious series of acts which are an echo of their former lives. The survivors don't take these particular "walkers" very seriously, and this turns out badly for one of the main characters. The main male character is known as Mark Spitz, and story behind this sobriquet is revealed fairly late on in the book, as is his pre-sweeper life. Called a literary horror novel mainly because of Whitehead's past work. It is certainly a serious novel, but can be read as a thriller too, with a number of exciting set pieces. Not sure if Whitehead will return to genre writing, but has made a good job it it with this one.
This was ok. Didn’t grab me at all unfortunately. A bit rambling. Got it because it is supposed to be a zombie classic but I don’t know why. There are some strong parts but mostly I found it a slow read and was glad to get to the end.
This is one of the best post-apocalypse/zombie/survival novels I've read since last year's
The Reapers are the Angels
by Alden Bell. Lovely writing captures the dislocation, madness and loneliness of survivors as they try to rebuild their world and come to terms with all they've seen and lost. The story is told over three days in the life of a civilian "sweeper" Mark Spitz with often jarring flashbacks to his life before the plague and during his battle for survival in the wastelands.
If you're looking for page after page of gore then you will be disappointed. This is a strange, smart and haunting book that has a lot to say and it will live in the memory.
I'm now claiming that this is y second favourite post-apocalyptic novel, behind "World War Z".
It's bleaker in tone than WWZ, but so very well written. The reactions feel real, and I loved the gradual unfolding of our understanding of the protagonist. I don't get people's criticisms that it's dull or boring. Whilst fully meaning the pun (and being completely ashamed of it too) I devoured this in a single day.