Tatiana's Reviews > The Reapers Are the Angels

The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell
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Aug 07, 11

bookshelves: 2011, dystopias-post-apocalyptic
Recommended to Tatiana by: Megan
Recommended for: those looking for a different zombie story, with a philosophical flavor
Read from August 05 to 07, 2011

I just finished reading probably a couple of dozens of the book's reviews and feel like there is hardly anything left to add. Except maybe that The Reapers Are the Angels is one of the very few zombie books I have ever finished and pretty much the only zombie book that I finished with pleasure and emotional involvement. Most likely because this novel isn't really about zombies. It is about us, people, whose conscience (and not external circumstances) often is our most dangerous and relentless enemy.

In The Road-like fashion (I have to say, Alden Bell was undoubtedly very heavily and obviously inspired by Cormac McCarthy's works), the post-apocalyptic setting is nothing but a backdrop for exploring the matters of human soul. Bell doesn't dwell on detailing his world, and correctly so. Some authors (Lauren DeStefano in Wither, for instance) make a mistake of over-explaining things when they don't need to. And Bell doesn't need to tell us how this zombie business works. Because for his main character, 15-year old Temple, zombies are the least of her problems. For Temple, they are a part of the natural environment, like, let's say, animals. Survival in this infested world is easy, dealing with what is inside her mind and heart - guilt, doubt, loneliness - that is hard.

Others have already said it, Temple is the one who carries this novel. She is a remarkably well realized character. She is self-sufficient, strong, capable, caring, and honorable, but with a gaping hole in her soul. I dare you not to empathize with her and her search for self-forgiveness and sense of belonging. Does she find it? I wished for a different ending, I won't lie.

There are still some lingering questions that I haven't found the answers to, even after reading other reviewers' opinions about the novel. I never quite understood the main antagonist, Moses. Is he another lost soul looking for a purpose and who finds a very strange one? His vendetta is so... pointless. Your thoughts are very welcome.
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Reading Progress

08/05/2011 page 1
14.0%
08/06/2011 page 3
43.0% 1 comment
08/07/2011 page 113
59.0% 3 comments
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Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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Michelle I'll be interested to see your review. I still don't quite know how to review it!


message 2: by Tatiana (last edited Aug 06, 2011 05:31AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tatiana We shall see. I hope I like it, so many of my friends loved it.


Michelle I liked the story, I was just constantly thrown out of it because of world building details that just didn't stand up under scrutiny.


message 4: by Austin (new)

Austin This book sounds interesting. How is it so far?


Tatiana I am enjoying it.


Megan yay :)


Wendy Darling I'm so glad you liked this, Tatiana! I was not bothered by the questions that went unanswered (some of the practical questions regarding supplies, different character motivations), just because I felt that this was such an allegorical tale, almost like a post-apocalyptic western. The story and the writing were both so compelling that it still worked for me overall...and I'm glad it did for you, too.


Tatiana Wendy Darling wrote: "I'm so glad you liked this, Tatiana! I was not bothered by the questions that went unanswered (some of the practical questions regarding supplies, different character motivations), just because I f..."

Minimal details worked here well I think. It was an internal journey, rather than a large-scale save-the-world sort of narrative, so the intricate world-building wasn't a must for me as well.


Michelle Is he another lost soul looking for a purpose and who finds a very strange one? His vendetta is so... pointless. Your thoughts are very welcome.

I have to say I wondered the same thing. I reread the last chapter a few times, wondering if I just wasn't getting something. I really felt like a different ending would have been better. (view spoiler) My problem with the ending, paired with questions like how on earth are they still drinking sodas 20 years after the fall of modern civilization (I had a Prof. in college who collected Pepsis from every country he visited - I know what 20 years does to that stuff.) made it where I just couldn't seem to review a book that I actually REALLY liked. I also like the fact that Bell didn't feel the need to over-explain everything (I just didn't buy some of his details.) After reading your review, I feel a little better about not getting Moses.


Limonessa I interpreted in an allegorical way, as all this book is:
First, his name, is self-explanatory. Moses. Moses means savior, deliverer and he is the one who brought the Israeli people to the "promised land". You can see the analogy here, I think, with Temple's quest (and I am sure you can do a whole analysis on Temple's name as well but I won't even go there).
On another level, I think Moses is an allegory of Temple herself, not quite a an alter ego, but more as part of her conscience. The one that she can't ran away from, no matter how hard she tries (he always finds her after all, right?) Again, analogy here with Temple killing Moses' brother and Temple feeling responsible for her own brother's death. This is why Moses is relentless in his task and has to get revenge because Temple herself is unable to forgive herself.
Did I make any sense?


Tatiana Lisa O. wrote: "I interpreted in an allegorical way, as all this book is:
First, his name, is self-explanatory. Moses. Moses means savior, deliverer and he is the one who brought the Israeli people to the "promise..."


Oh yes, Lisa, you did. Thank you.


Megan So glad you enjoyed this! Regarding Moses, I think Lisa has a point. I also believe that pursuing Temple provided him with an opportunity to take control of the situation around him. As many have pointed out, she represents the new world and until Moses conquers it, he is unable to find his own peace and move on.


Clarissa I'm sorry I can't flesh out Moses for you more. I also found him so frustrating. The whole vendetta felt so pointless. I guess the way Bell ended it glaringly obvious that it was a wasted effort.


message 14: by jana (new) - rated it 5 stars

jana I agree, this is one of the few zombie books that i have liked also. Loved Temple.


Danielle Lisa's explanations clinched it for me: 5 stars.


message 16: by Skip (new) - rated it 4 stars

Skip I actually thought that Moses and Temple were kindred spirits. I liked that Moses constantly supported Temple's humanity when she was obsessing about her "evil" deeds.


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