This is a super (SUPER) belated review, but I actually wrote most of it right after I finished the book back in October. But work got busy at the beginning of November, and since then, I’ve just been…lazy. (The internet and my phone are huge distractions.) But here it is, finally:
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:
“He was a mediocre man. He had led a mediocre life exceptional only in the magnitude of its unexceptionality. Now the world was mediocre, rendering him perfect.”
“Best to let the broken glass be broken glass, let it splinter into smaller pieces and dust and scatter. Let the cracks between things widen until they are no longer cracks but the new places for things. That was where they were now. The world wasn’t ending: it had ended and now they were in the new place. They could not recognize it because they had never seen it before.”