Zone One by Colson Whitehead

This onezone one was SO almost a DNF. (Actually, I probably would have been happier if it had been!) It took me weeks to get through and completely obliterated my chances of meeting my Goodreads goal this year and it’s only June. Zone One was not exciting. It was not profound. It was not interesting. It was not even really unique since walking dead stories seem to have exploded onto the book scene in the way vampire novels did a few years back.

This is the story of a guy, who claims to be remarkable only in his mediocrity, selected to join a team of pseudo-soldiers clearing out New York City for repopulation after the zombie apocalypse occurs.

The prose was dense, and although the writing was lovely at times, I found I really had to be focused to even get into the story. I guess it felt like the whole darn book was pretentious and the author was trying too hard to show off his oh-so-eloquent vocabulary. I mean, I get that this is both literary fiction as well as a zombie genre novel, but it just didn’t seem to work. (Embrace one or the other, Mr. Whitehead, and I’m sure you could do it well, but this…well, let’s not do this!)

It’s true. I loved the descriptions of stragglers who got lost in their former lives, endlessly cycling through day after day of clearing paper jams in the workroom copy machine and the one vivid line about the squelchy sound a person’s head makes after it hits every step going down 38 floors in a body bag, but for what purpose? To make some grand statement about how our routines become who we are or that the end times will be brutal and inhumane? Bleh.

And, as for the apocalyptic part, who cares? We got three days Spitz’s stream-of-consciousness tale that went absolutely nowhere. No breakthroughs came along to save the people from the death plague, no last minute removals to a sanctuary occurred, and really, our main character seems no better or worse off than how he began. Sure, there are new crises, stories about friends lost, but overall, so what? SKIP IT.


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