Mary's Reviews > The Zona

The Zona by Nathan Yocum
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's review
Nov 21, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: have-ebook, read-since-joining-goodreads
Read from November 08 to 20, 2011

This is a tiny PA slice of life from one small corner of the world....Arizona now called Zona...several years after storms and floods and God knows what else have ended life as we know it. This isn’t a story of the apocalypse itself but what remains of this one part of the world after the waters and storms have somewhat receded. The author doesn't go much into what caused the apocalypse other than to hint that it was brought on by climate change. No matter, in any event, it's now an ugly world. A very ugly world. There are no lucky ones in this story except maybe the people who were lucky enough not to survive the initial storms and disasters.

The main character, Lead, (and we do find out eventually why it is Lead as in "Leed", not Lead as in rhymes with "head"), is a now disgraced ex-preacher on the run from the "Church", a so-called, religious sect that is the authority in the Zona. The Church uses religious indoctrination, food, fear and torture as a way of controlling the few people dumb enough to have survived the apocalypse. The Church’s preachers don’t preach. They are sent out by the Church, without knowledge as to why, to assassinate or apprehend people whom the Church has deemed for one reason or another to be sinners or enemies.

The book starts seemingly without a purpose but slowly unfolds a couple of dozen pages into the 115 page story. It follows Lead as he begins his journey across the harsh and unyielding deserts of the Zona first simply to escape sure death at the hands of the Church and later to what he hopes is a new life away from the influence of the Church in the now almost mythical city of New Pueblo. He runs into all kinds of problems and meets various helpful and interesting characters on his journey and we learn much about his and these other characters’ often poignant back stories. Lead, a young child when the whole end of the world went down, is no superman, no genius and is not possessed with any superior morals or powers. He is just a poor sap who like everyone else, did what he had to do to survive. The horrors he faces aren’t necessarily that different or harsher than the horrors any of the other survivors have had to face. The amazing thing is that even though Lead has survived these horrors, he still has managed to retain even a tiny bit of humanity and morality.

Even though I wouldn’t call this story sweet and easy in anyway, it was a short and enjoyable read. The author is quite a wordsmith. Although his words and sentences were simple, he managed to place these few simple words together in such a way as to describe the scene and place you right there, so that you feel the gravity of the situation and the emotion of the character perfectly as in this example from page 33:

“Lead drifted in and out of dreams. His body radiated heat that refused to cool in early morning air. Dirt coated his chest and arms thick, like a tailored shirt. Terence tipped flat warm water into his mouth. Droplets ran down Lead’s chest, streaking the layers of dirt.” Each word that the author chooses packs a punch, tells a story. And there were dozens of these little gems in the book.

Although there were a few spelling and grammatical errors (these were nothing that a good editor wouldn’t have caught) and the book in its entirety wasn’t perfect (and the author certainly is enamored of the Van Cleef ), it was a joy to read specifically because of the author’s mastery of the written word that included gems like the one above and other pearls of logic such as this from page 35: “Yes, but my sin wasn’t against God. My sin was against the Church. Church and God ain’t the same thing. From what I know, God’s perfect. The Church makes mistakes.” Amen to that.
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message 1: by Nathan (new) - added it

Nathan Yocum Thanks for listing my book. It's always good to see interest from another Apocalypse Whenever member.

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