Zone One by Colson Whitehead

May 4, 2015 Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, Psychological, Zombies 20

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

Got a case of the Mondays? Perhaps you’re feeling a bit… zombie-like? You’re in luck, because today we’re going to talk about Colson Whitehead’s novel Zone One (yes, there are zombies!) As with any number of the books I read, I was recommended this book by the brilliant Sarah Says Read. That girl never steers me wrong.

zoneoneZone One is set in the post zombie-apocalyptic world. The US government is a bit rag tag at this point, but the remaining population is pulling themselves up by the bootstraps and trying to take back some of their cities. Mark Spitz is on a team of sweepers tasked with clearing the zombiefied remnants out of Manhattan.

In a rather novel approach to zombie trope, Whitehead focuses on the aftermath of the event rather than the gory horror of the apocalypse itself. (There still is some gore, though, so it will satisfy your blood lust.) What is more interesting to me is the psychological cost of survival. A MASSIVE portion of the remaining population suffers from a condition known as PASD (Post Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, natch.) How can your brain possibly reconcile having watched your zombified mother feast upon your father’s entrails? That’ll leave a scar, yo!

I’ll admit that Whitehead’s prose was a little stodgy for my taste. It felt a little like he was trying to overcompensate for the subject matter of the novel by burying it in elaborate turns of phrase. Of course, I’m desperately plebeian when it comes to language, so take the criticism for what it’s worth. All in all, though, Zone One is definitely a book zombie fans should check out.

Talk to me, Bookworms! When reading genre fiction, do you prefer authors stick to an established mythology or do you like it when they step outside the box (or coffin, or re-animated corpse. Whatever.)

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20 Responses to “Zone One by Colson Whitehead”

  1. Annabel Smith

    This sounds GOOD. I don’t like the gory zombie bits so this would probably be more to my taste than the average zombie book. I like my zombies out of the box – I stopped reading World War Z because it just felt like too many other things I’d read. If you’re going to do such a hackneyed genre you need to bring something fresh to it IMHO.

    • Words For Worms

      Definitely a different take than WWZ, I think it’d probably be a bit more up your alley. Oh! I keep forgetting to tell you! I was talking to my MIL and she said “oh I saw this new book called Whiskey and Charlie and it looks really good” and I was all “OMG THAT’S ANNABEL’S BOOK! SHE’S MY INTERNET FRIEND!!!”

  2. Michelle

    I have heard great things about this one and mean to get to it one of these days. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Wesley at Library Educated

    I generally think zombie books are not for me, but I enjoyed this one. I liked that it took a longer term look at what would have to happen to get society back on it’s feet. (Body bags, lots and lots of body bags)

  4. Megan M.

    I love when authors make a story innovative. It’s hard to do, but it usually pays off, and it has to be much more interesting to write.

    • Megan M.

      Also, fun fact: when I was working for the library, they asked us to vote for which authors we wanted to invite to give readings at our branches, and I totally voted for Colson Whitehead because his author photo was cuuuuuuute. Librarians are horndogs. LOL

    • Words For Worms

      I would think so. I’m not cut out to write fiction, but it’s got to be more fun to change things up than to be super formulaic. Then again, it’s probably way harder, too.

  5. Sarah @ Sarah Says Read

    Yay, I’m glad you didn’t hate it! I’m always nervous when people read the things I liked.

    The huge reason I liked Zone One is that he steps out of the box. Zombie novels can get repetitive after a while.

  6. Rhian

    I’m not into zombie fiction in general, though I have read a couple (I think World War Z was my first so I really enjoyed it). I recently read the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant which sounds similar to Zone One in that it’s set 20+ years after The Rising and so is more in the nature of a post-apocalyptic story. While there are zombie attacks in the books, zombies are actually more of a rationale to describe how/why the world/society changed and copes with zombies as a daily threat.

  7. Jenny @ Reading the End

    >>>I’ll admit that Whitehead’s prose was a little stodgy for my taste. It felt a little like he was trying to overcompensate for the subject matter of the novel by burying it in elaborate turns of phrase.

    I all the way agree with this. It was TOO MANY METAPHORS, it was a metaphor stew, and I got frustrated wading through them all. (See what I did? I used two metaphors in the same sentence. Just cause one metaphor isn’t enough.)

  8. Alley

    Oh man, I had the same reaction you did to the writing. I liked the premise but the prose was sooo dense and I do think it was a little compensating for the low-brow topic. OR I’m too dense to actually get it. Both maybe? I’ll go with both.

Talk to me, Bookworms!

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