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View all 5 comments. Mar 17, Donna Backshall rated it did not like it Shelves: end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it , on-overdrive , books , reviewed-amazon , terrible-narration , mental-illness , terrible-editing , no-no-just-no , unimpressive-writing , regret-i-read-it. That's all I can say. I bailed about one-quarter of the way in. I am so done, I don't want to bother reviewing, but I need to dig my head out of the word salad that was this book and warn fellow readers.

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Are there commandments for novel writing? If there are, I want to submit these for consideration: - Lists do not constitute atmosphere. We all have access to Unbearable. We all have access to a dictionary and a thesaurus. The trademark of a talented fiction writer is the ability to use the right words at the right time, and to relate a story tightly, concisely, and clearly so it is compelling, immersive and informative. I saw no evidence of anything like this in Zone One.

It was such a mess of lists upon lists of things past, and inventories of symptoms present, while we enter a post-apocalyptic zombie-infested Manhattan through the experiences of a guy named Mark Spitz. Yes, I'm serious It was, in a word, dreadful. As well, in the Overdrive audio version, the narrator read like he was breathless, eager and upbeat, made to sit on the edge of his seat in anticipation of the rom-com fun just waiting to hit him. But this attitude was entirely inappropriate for the morose military operations as they unfolded.

The smiling Chandler Bing tone of his narration made the beleaguered story even more unapproachable.

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View all 10 comments. Nov 25, Brett Talley rated it it was ok Shelves: zombies-literary-fiction-horror. In an addendum to my original review, I initially gave this book three stars.


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Then I watched the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, and it struck me that if a television show can display complex human emotion and interaction while simultaneously incorporating what is expected of the genre, this book should have been able to do the same thing. If you think that is ridiculous, so be it. In the interest of full disclosure, Zone One is one of the books that beat out my novel, That Which Should N In an addendum to my original review, I initially gave this book three stars.

I can assure you, that did not affect my opinion at all. That is the challenge Colson Whitehead faces in his novel Zone One. Whether you are capable of enjoying Zone One depends almost entirely on how you view it.

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If you are looking for a zombie novel, Zone One is probably not for you. Zone One is a story of the end of the world, told through the eyes of the anachronistically named Mark Spitz. I challenge you to find people under thirty who know who Mark Spitz is other than in relation to Michael Phelps.

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But I digress. The action takes place over the course of a single day or so, although the time-line of that day is impossible to piece together given the never-ending flashbacks and temporal gymnastics.

The zombie apocalypse has decimated society, but reconstruction is underway, led by the new government in Buffalo. But Spitz suspects that things are not as secure as the government wants them to believe. The main problem with Zone One is that, although at times it is well-written, it is neither a good zombie novel nor good literary fiction. There is a good book here.

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I get it; Whitehead is trying to make a point. And while that is all well and good, if you are making a point in a zombie novel, then you have to respect your readers. When the zombies show up, the action should start. The best example of this deficiency has been well documented in the myriad angry reviews by zombie aficionados that have sprung up across the web.

Early in the novel, Spitz is ambushed by a group of zombies. Whitehead spends ten pages describing this encounter, but not because he dedicates himself to documenting the terrifying struggle against scratching, diseased claws and snapping jaws. No, Whitehead sees the zombie attack as an opportunity to explore the emptiness of middle class life. They had been reeled in by the old lie of making a name for oneself in the city; now they had to figure out how to survive. Hunt-and-gather rent money, forage ramen. Sorry to ruin it for you. He could have done this in the aftermath, with Spitz staring down at the dead skels, thinking about who they were before the virus took them.

We could have had the best of both worlds—the action packed zombie attack and an important insight into the human condition. This happens repeatedly throughout the novel. Every zombie assault is a time for meditation, every pair of plague bearing jaws an opportunity to reflect on the mediocrity of middle class life.

Everyone more focused on securing the best apartments in the new society than putting down the roving bands of undead. George Romero invented the modern zombie largely as a metaphor for mass consumerism. We get it; the shambling hordes are like the denizens of strip malls or partakers of chain American food restaurants, and the long winded discourses on the sad commercialism of the middle class grow tiresome because of it.

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The strange thing about Zone One is that once I accepted its shortcomings and took it for what it was, I sorta liked it. Whitehead does a pretty good job of describing what life would be like after the rising, both in the wilderness and in the isolated human settlements that remain. That success only made the book that much more frustrating. Never before has a positive review been so unfair to the author it praises. It invites forgivable prurience: What is that relationship like? Oct 28, David Brooke rated it it was ok. A pretty terrible experience.

No, not a zombie outbreak, this book. There are flashes of interesting in this book, but overall you just want to skip ahead. This one takes an instant blow to the chin for being extremely frustrating and annoying. In Zone One zombies linger in their cubicles waiting for the copier to make the print outs that will never come, stand in iParty starring at guerrilla costumes wishing they could afford what they are wearing, or laze in recline-able chairs endlessly pressing the power button on the remote control.

A big twist at the end deals with the protagonist's race, and I found this twist utterly pointless. The entire book isn't very clear. The reader can't get a bead on why we should care about anyone or why we should care about any of it. The book feels like it never got beyond the short story phase, but to get it on the rack the author stuffed it with pages of filler.


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  6. A frustrating experience. View all 4 comments. Oct 06, Melki rated it really liked it Shelves: up-at-the-crack-of-doom , they-re-coming-to-get-you-barbara. A powerful, thought provoking oddball of a book. How to even categorize it? I suppose it is a thinking man's zombie novel, though it is lacking in the required skin-ripping, intestine-chomping, walking dead action that would hold most zombie aficionados' interest. The living ARE hunted by the dead, but Whitehead does not linger on the messy details. A team arrives in New York City to clear out areas for possible reclaimation when the crisis has ended.

    The city looms large in this book, pulsating A powerful, thought provoking oddball of a book. The city looms large in this book, pulsating in both its emptiness and later with invading throngs of the dead. The main character, Mark Spitz - not the heavily-medaled swimmer - spends much of the book lost in memory and ruminating on the lives of the dead. All of this introspection tends to make the whole experience more real and personal.

    Characters disappear without a trace, leaving survivors who will always wonder. Ultimately, one of the saddest books I have ever read. View all 3 comments. Nov 15, Brian rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: All Goodreads chums. Second Reading: June 30 - July 4, We are studied in the old ways, and acolytes of what's to come. I was a young teen 13? It wasn't until much later in life - after countless viewings of dozens of zombie movies, reading loads of zed-lit and dinner party "what if" discussions - that it finally clicked why this genre's appeal doesn't abate: what we call human civilization is a soap bubble fragile construct.

    It only takes a little scratch to bring it all down. Zombies simply represent an acceleration of that process and then holds up a giant mirror to whatever is left. Want to see what you are made of, humanity? This is what you are. You are animals. We never see other people anyway, only the monsters we make of them. From the time of my zombie illumination, Zone One is the novel I hoped would one day be written. Whitehead took that internal journey to ask the questions about what makes our flatlined culture keep ticking and what happens to us when it all comes crumbling down.

    The internal monologue of the protagonist Mark Spitz is a relatable one.