Katie Parker's Reviews > Zone One

Zone One by Colson Whitehead
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's review
Oct 24, 11

bookshelves: sci-fi-fantasy, dystopia, new-releases, zombies
Read from October 18 to 24, 2011

I know that zombies are pretty prevalent in American culture at the moment, but I’m kind of a newbie to this sub-horror genre. I’ve seen exactly one zombie movie (Zombieland), two episodes of The Walking Dead, and, now, I’ve read one zombie book.

A plague has created “skels” (zombies) across the planet, effectively wiping out most of humanity. The federal government has relocated from Washington D.C. to Buffalo, New York, and is currently clearing an area of Manhattan to be repopulated by the survivors. Unfolding over three days, the novel follows a civilian sweeper, Mark Spitz (which isn’t his real name, but a nickname he earned during an event that is eventually described), as he and the Omega unit search for skels and stragglers, building by building and floor by floor, within the zone. As they work their way through the zone, Mark Spitz recalls the events that led up to the present day: the arrival of the plague, how he survived, and his relationship with another survivor.

Though the book is in third person, the writing was very stream-of-consciousness. The narrative jumps from present day to a memory without warning, and often this was a little hard to follow. I understand that it was structured this way to illustrate the Mark Spitz’s PASD (Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder), and that non-linear form is probably what contributes to its reputation as a literary novel, as opposed to a genre novel, but it was still confusing. I’m willing to forgive that, though, as the writing was captivating and quite highlight-able.

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Reading Progress

33.0% "Not super sure how I feel about this so far. The writing seems very stream-of-consciousness, even though it's in 3rd person. And some jargon (skels, pheenies, etc.) is used throughout the narrative, only to be explained way later. Seems jumbled, but I guess linear stories aren't priority post-apocalypse."
68.0% "It's getting better. Still jumps around to the point that I sometimes have to think about whether something is a memory or in the present, but I like it, overall."
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