I don't really like zombies. Sure, I loved Zombieland - it was a funny movie. And Resident Evil is one of my favorites. But Night of the Living Dead scared the everliving crap out of me in college & to this day I've never been able to watch it. (Okay, I admit, one should not go see a zombie movie when one has smoked certain things and is definitely brain altered...)
So, zombie books? Not really my thing.
I was at Borders last week, looking at their Buy One Get One 50% Off shelves. I found Dark & Stormy Knights, an anthology I wanted to read, but I couldn't find another book there. I have a rule that if I can't find that 50% off book, I'm not buying (its illogical, I know). So, anyway, I saw 'The Reapers are the Angels' there. I picked it up. I read the first page and it was....interesting. I decided, what the hell. I'll buy it.
Now, I wasn't even sure if I would be able to read it. Its got a funky style. There are no quotes when someone is talking - I have a BS is journalism - to me that's like not putting on your underwear and wearing a mini-skirt. I think I might rather stick forks in my eyes than read books that are grammatically incorrect. It's also written present tense - another of my pet peeves. She goes here. She does that. Ack. (I'm shivering just saying it.)
So, you'd think with all these issues, there would be no way I'd even read it, never mind make it five minutes into this book, right? Well, I'll admit what I thought would happen. I thought I would pick it up once or twice, attempt to read it, and eventually toss it aside in my 'God help me, what was I thinking?' pile.
But something about those first pages kept calling to me. They were fascinating. Captivating. I had other books lined up to read and I bumped them all to read this book. And I am so glad I did.
It is the story of Temple, a fifteen year old girl. She lives in a world greatly altered by some event that has created a world of zombies. She has never known a world where zombies don't exist, but she still sees beauty in the world that remains. Temple, you realize almost immediately, is struggling with something horrible that happened in her past. Something she did that changed her forever. She can't read or write, she's a loner, a traveler. As much as she's a caring, kind person, she sees herself as more of a monster than the zombies.
Temple finds herself in a town (more of a group of people living in a group of buildings under constant guard), where she attempts to fit in. But she makes a series of blunders that put her in a precarious position where she has to defend herself. In the process she kills a man and finds herself on the run from his brother, Moses, who wants revenge. The story follows her on her trip across the ravaged country where she meets a series of people, picks up a special needs man, all the while being chased by Moses.
This is not a funny tale. Its not even a scary tale (tho it is scary at points). Its a dark, horrible & terribly tragic story of life, loss and the need for redemption. I could not put it down. It grabbed me from the first page and held me in its icy grip as I rushed with Temple from the things that haunted her. It was beautiful and sad, and left me haunted.
The Reapers are the Angels was such a good book, I started it at 10 a.m., blew off everythign I had to do for the day & stayed up until almost 1 a.m. to finish it, knowing I had to get up at 5 to get my son off to school. Nothing was as important as finishing Temple's story. If I were to rate it, I would say it was one of the best books I've read this year. Definitely in the top 10. Seriously. I found myself just pausing today at various points and thinking about it. Its a rare book that does that to me.
All I can say is bravo, Alden Bell. Your book is brilliant in its darkness.