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In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead.

Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuild­ing civilization under orders from the provisional govern­ment based in Buffalo. Their top mission: the resettlement of Manhattan. Armed forces have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street—aka Zone One—but pockets of plague-ridden squatters remain. While the army has eliminated the most dangerous of the infected, teams of civilian volunteers are tasked with clearing out a more innocuous variety—the “malfunctioning” stragglers, who exist in a catatonic state, transfixed by their former lives.

Mark Spitz is a member of one of the civilian teams work­ing in lower Manhattan. Alternating between flashbacks of Spitz’s desperate fight for survival during the worst of the outbreak and his present narrative, the novel unfolds over three surreal days, as it depicts the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, and the impossible job of coming to grips with the fallen world.

And then things start to go wrong.

Both spine chilling and playfully cerebral, Zone One bril­liantly subverts the genre’s conventions and deconstructs the zombie myth for the twenty-first century.
Published: VintageAnchor an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on Oct 18, 2011
ISBN: 9780385535014
List price: $11.99
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This would seem to be an apocalyptic book but it's about so much more! Zombie fans will be disappointed, the writing is very intelligent. A compulsive reading for sure!read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This post-apocalyptic book takes place in on Manhattan Island (Zone One), where Mark Spitz and his colleges work as "sweepers." Their job is to remove all the straggler-zombies from the area and bag them for disposal. This book isn't plot driven so much as world-building-driven. Whitehead uses beautiful prose to describe the "reconstruction" of America. As spell-binding as his sentences are, however, this flowery language distracts from the few action scenes...making this book not so much about zombies as about compulsive and overwhelming mediocrity. I don't mean that Whitehead's writing is mediocre--not in the slightest!--but that the book is about mediocrity. The mediocrity of Mark Spitz is described in beautifully pregnant prose. In fact, Mark had "unrivaled mediocrity" and all the "advantages this adaptation conferred in a mediocre world." The zombies themselves were a metaphor for the mediocre masses of Manhattan. Many of them harmlessly flipped non-existent burgers over ovens that had broken down long ago. They window shopped in front of boarded up displays and vegged in front of dead televisions. Thus, the book had a rather dark view of humanity...that we are descending irrepressibly into mediocrity. On top of that mediocre metaphor, Whitehead flirts with an allegory for the post-Civil War reconstruction. He compares the "untold Americans" who were not a part of the reconstruction to "slaves who didn't know they'd been emancipated." I pondered the meaning of this slave metaphor for a long time. Did Whitehead mean that these slaves hadn't been told about the reconstruction? That there were untold numbers of them? That nobody would ever tell their story? Maybe he meant all of that? Following through with his mediocre-zombie metaphor, it seems that Whitehead meant that America is filled both with mediocre masses who live like zombies and their slaves...slaves of technology, slaves to the whim of the mediocre masses, slaves to the unpredictability of a fickle universe. I had a hard time reading this book because of all the flashbacks and literary musings--I don't recommend people listen to the audiobook version due to these unexpected and frequent changes. I probably would have enjoyed it much, much more if I had physically read it. :) I think this is an excellent work for its meaning and its prose, but it's going to get bad reviews from the zombie-fiction-lovers out there, because, in the end, it's not really about zombies.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
It's the unraveling of our civilization, and as it tries to rise again, it repeats the same bullshit, inane, and soul-less patterns that it used to be so fond of. As in every good zombie story, the monster here is ourselves, the recesses of our humanity, and Whitehead's lyrical prose puts a mirror to it like no one else.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

This would seem to be an apocalyptic book but it's about so much more! Zombie fans will be disappointed, the writing is very intelligent. A compulsive reading for sure!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This post-apocalyptic book takes place in on Manhattan Island (Zone One), where Mark Spitz and his colleges work as "sweepers." Their job is to remove all the straggler-zombies from the area and bag them for disposal. This book isn't plot driven so much as world-building-driven. Whitehead uses beautiful prose to describe the "reconstruction" of America. As spell-binding as his sentences are, however, this flowery language distracts from the few action scenes...making this book not so much about zombies as about compulsive and overwhelming mediocrity. I don't mean that Whitehead's writing is mediocre--not in the slightest!--but that the book is about mediocrity. The mediocrity of Mark Spitz is described in beautifully pregnant prose. In fact, Mark had "unrivaled mediocrity" and all the "advantages this adaptation conferred in a mediocre world." The zombies themselves were a metaphor for the mediocre masses of Manhattan. Many of them harmlessly flipped non-existent burgers over ovens that had broken down long ago. They window shopped in front of boarded up displays and vegged in front of dead televisions. Thus, the book had a rather dark view of humanity...that we are descending irrepressibly into mediocrity. On top of that mediocre metaphor, Whitehead flirts with an allegory for the post-Civil War reconstruction. He compares the "untold Americans" who were not a part of the reconstruction to "slaves who didn't know they'd been emancipated." I pondered the meaning of this slave metaphor for a long time. Did Whitehead mean that these slaves hadn't been told about the reconstruction? That there were untold numbers of them? That nobody would ever tell their story? Maybe he meant all of that? Following through with his mediocre-zombie metaphor, it seems that Whitehead meant that America is filled both with mediocre masses who live like zombies and their slaves...slaves of technology, slaves to the whim of the mediocre masses, slaves to the unpredictability of a fickle universe. I had a hard time reading this book because of all the flashbacks and literary musings--I don't recommend people listen to the audiobook version due to these unexpected and frequent changes. I probably would have enjoyed it much, much more if I had physically read it. :) I think this is an excellent work for its meaning and its prose, but it's going to get bad reviews from the zombie-fiction-lovers out there, because, in the end, it's not really about zombies.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
It's the unraveling of our civilization, and as it tries to rise again, it repeats the same bullshit, inane, and soul-less patterns that it used to be so fond of. As in every good zombie story, the monster here is ourselves, the recesses of our humanity, and Whitehead's lyrical prose puts a mirror to it like no one else.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I never expected to love a zombie book, but I fell headlong into this wonderful novel that has very little to do with zombies and very much to do with the human condition. Fun to have some questions answered by the author on Twitter (will continue to follow).
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead.Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuilding civilization under orders from the provisional government based in Buffalo. Their top mission: the resettlement of Manhattan. Armed forces have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street—aka Zone One—but pockets of plague-ridden squatters remain. While the army has eliminated the most dangerous of the infected, teams of civilian volunteers are tasked with clearing out a more innocuous variety—the “malfunctioning” stragglers, who exist in a catatonic state, transfixed by their former lives.Mark Spitz is a member of one of the civilian teams working in lower Manhattan. Alternating between flashbacks of Spitz’s desperate fight for survival during the worst of the outbreak and his present narrative, the novel unfolds over three surreal days, as it depicts the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, and the impossible job of coming to grips with the fallen world.And then things start to go wrong.Both spine chilling and playfully cerebral, Zone One brilliantly subverts the genre’s conventions and deconstructs the zombie myth for the twenty-first century.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I'm not familiar with zombie books or movies. But I am a big Colson Whitehead fan. Unfortunately, I think this book might disappoint readers in both camps.Here's a plot summary: The novel is set some time after a worldwide "plague" turned victims into zombies, who then killed most of the population, starting with those closest to them. The few lone survivors have fled and survived alone or in very small temporary groups. Now a nascent government in Buffalo is setting up camps for survivors and has sent teams to clear out part of Manhattan--dubbed Zone One--for resettlement. The book's hero, nicknamed Mark Spitz, is on one of those teams.On the plus side, the book displays Whitehead's customary inventiveness and creativity. As always, I love the premise. Unfortunately, the novel plods a bit. It doesn't really get moving until the very end, when the zombies finally break through the barriers of Zone One and into the pages of the book. Ironically, what it's missing as a book is the verve of zombie or other genre movies--pacing, plot, action, a sense of danger.Instead, much of the book is an exploration of personal loneliness and privileged urban anomie. That's Whitehead territory, and his characteristic humor and intelligence are evident as always, but he doesn't hit the marks this time. It's like hanging out with a friend in a prolonged post-divorced funk; you are sympathetic, but you also want him to move on eventually. Similarly, the book feels almost shut in. Shut in, in its own sadness and paralysis, like the survivors holed up in random buildings, trying to wait out the zombies by showing no signs of life so the zombies pass by without attacking. It turns out to need a zombie attack.
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