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The Reapers Are the Angels

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Overview

Zombies have infested a fallen America. A young girl named Temple is on the run. Haunted by her past and pursued by a killer, Temple is surrounded by death and danger, hoping to be set free.

For twenty-five years, civilization has survived in meager enclaves, guarded against a plague of the dead. Temple wanders this blighted landscape, keeping to herself and keeping her demons inside her heart. She can't remember a time before the zombies, but she does remember an old man who ...

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Overview

Zombies have infested a fallen America. A young girl named Temple is on the run. Haunted by her past and pursued by a killer, Temple is surrounded by death and danger, hoping to be set free.

For twenty-five years, civilization has survived in meager enclaves, guarded against a plague of the dead. Temple wanders this blighted landscape, keeping to herself and keeping her demons inside her heart. She can't remember a time before the zombies, but she does remember an old man who took her in and the younger brother she cared for until the tragedy that set her on a personal journey toward redemption. Moving back and forth between the insulated remnants of society and the brutal frontier beyond, Temple must decide where ultimately to make a home and find the salvation she seeks.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"If you loved Justin Cronin's The Passage, this summer's vampire hit, you'll get a charge out of The Reapers Are the Angels. It's a literary/horror mashup that is unsettlingly good."—USA Today

"The Reapers Are the Angels is a knockout, a fresh take on the zombie novel, with a heroine you can't help but root for as she braves the land of the living dead and the dead living, pursued by a foe far more dangerous than flesh-eaters and with the beacon of redemption flickering ahead. Alden Bell will snatch your attention and keep it until long after you close this book."—Tom Franklin, author of Hell at the Breach

"Alden Bell provides an astonishing twist on the southern gothic: like Flannery O'Connor with zombies."—Michael Gruber, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Air and Shadows

"Alden Bell has managed something improbable and striking: a disconcertingly beautiful tale of zombie apocalypse. The Reapers Are the Angels is soaked in all the blood that any horror fan could desire, the effluvia rendered in a high Southern Gothic style as redolent of rotting magnolia as anything written by William Faulkner or Cormac McCarthy."—Charlie Huston, author of Sleepless

"... This is a must-read for those who like their literature both brain-specked and philosophical." —journalstar.com

 

Library Journal
This may be the most beautiful book about zombies this reviewer has ever read. Fifteen-year-old Temple travels alone through a dead world. Born after the apocalypse, this is the only realm she's ever known, and she is perfectly suited to it, dispatching "meatskins" as a matter of course. After she accidentally kills a man who attempted to rape her, his brother vows revenge. Zombies and even her pursuer are a backdrop to a story about Temple's real enemy, the monster she fears herself to be. Bell is a pseudonym for Joshua Gaylord (Hummingbirds). BZG Temple encounters a bulked-up, inbred clan of half-humans who have been injecting a steroidlike fluid derived from zombie brains.
Terrence Rafferty
It's astonishing…to come across a zombie tale like Alden Bell's novel…in which a world that "has gone to black damnation" becomes, somehow, the occasion of a young woman's spiritual redemption…[Bell's] sentences roll and dawdle, as if moving to the rhythm of the stilled, eerie environment.
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805092431
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/3/2010
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 166,404
  • Product dimensions: 5.64 (w) x 11.04 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Alden Bell is a pseudonym for Joshua Gaylord, whose first novel, Hummingbirds, was released in Fall '09. He teaches at a New York City prep school and is an adjunct professor at The New School. He lives in New York City with his wife, the Edgar Award-winning mystery writer, Megan Abbott.

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Read an Excerpt

1.

God is a slick god. Temple knows. She knows because of all the crackerjack miracles still to be seen on this ruined globe.

Like those fish all disco-lit in the shallows. That was something, a marvel with no compare that she's been witness to. It was deep night when she saw it, but the moon was so bright it cast hard shadows everywhere on the island. So bright it was almost brighter than daytime because she could see things clearer, as if the sun were criminal to the truth, as if her eyes were eyes of night. She left the lighthouse and went down to the beach to look at the moon pure and straight, and she stood in the shallows and let her feet sink into the sand as the patter- waves tickled her ankles. And that's when she saw it, a school of tiny fish, all darting around like marbles in a chalk circle, and they were lit up electric, mostly silver but some gold and pink too. They came and danced around her ankles, and she could feel their little electric fish bodies, and it was like she was standing under the moon and in the moon at the same time. And that was something she hadn't seen before. A decade and a half, thereabouts, roaming the planet earth, and she's never seen that before.

And you could say the world has gone to black damnation, and you could say the children of Cain are holding sway over the good and the righteous—but here's what Temple knows: She knows that whatever hell the world went to, and whatever evil she's perpetrated her own self, and whatever series of cursed misfortunes brought her down here to this island to be harbored away from the order of mankind, well, all those things are what put her there that night to stand amid the Daylight Moon and the Miracle of the Fish—which she wouldn't of got to see otherwise.

See, God is a slick god. He makes it so you don't miss out on nothing you're supposed to witness firsthand.

She sleeps in an abandoned lighthouse at the top of a bluff. At the base there's a circular room with a fireplace where she cooks fish in a blackened iron pot. The first night she discovered the hatch in the floor that opened into a dank storage room. There she found candles, fishhooks, a first aid kit, a fl are gun with a box of oxidized rounds. She tried one, but it was dead.

In the mornings she digs for pignuts in the underbrush and checks her nets for fish. She leaves her sneakers in the lighthouse, she likes the feel of the hot sand on the soles of her feet. The Florida beachgrass between her toes. The palm trees are like bushes in the air, their brittle dead fronds like a skirt of bones around the tall trunks, rattling in the breeze.

At noon every day, she climbs the spiral stairs to the top of the signal tower, pausing at the middle landing to catch her breath and feel the sun on her face from the grimy window. At the top, she walks the catwalk once around—gazing out over the illimitable sea, and then, toward the mainland coast, the rocky cusp of the blight continent. Sometimes she stops to look at the inverted hemisphere of the light itself, that blind glass optic, like a cauldron turned on its side and covered with a thousand square mirrors.

She can see her reflection there, clear and multifarious. An army of her.

Afternoons, she looks through the unrotted magazines she'd found lining some boxes of kerosene. The words mean nothing to her, but the pictures she likes. They evoke places she has never been—crowds of the sharply dressed hailing the arrival of someone in a long black car, people in white suits reclining on couches in homes where there's no blood crusted on the walls, women in undergarments on backdrops of seamless white. Abstract heaven, that white—where could such a white exist? If she had all the white paint left in the world, what would go untouched by her brush? She closes her eyes and thinks about it.

It can be cold at night. She keeps the fire going and pulls her army jacket tighter around her torso and listens to the ocean wind whistling loud through the hollow flute of her tall home.

Miracle, or augury maybe—because the morning after the glowing fish, she finds the body on the beach. She sees it during her morning walk around the island to check the nets, she finds it on the north point of the teardrop landmass, near the shoal.

At first it is a black shape against the white sand, and she studies it from a distance, measures it with her fingers up to her eye.

Too small to be a person, unless it's folded double or half buried. Which it could be.

She looks around. The wind blowing through the grass above the shore makes a peaceful sound.

She sits and studies the thing and waits for movement.

The shoal is bigger today. It keeps getting bigger. When she first came, the island seemed like a long way off from the mainland. She swam to it, using an empty red and white cooler to help keep her afloat in the currents. That was months ago. Since then the island has gotten bigger, the season pulling the water out farther and farther every night, drawing the island closer to the mainland. There is a spit of reefy rock extending out from the shore of the mainland and pointing toward the island, and there are large fragments of jutting coral reaching in the other direction from the island. Like the fingers of God and Adam, and each day they come closer to touching as the water retreats and gets shallower along the shoal.

But it still seems safe. The breakers on the reef are violent and thunderous. You wouldn't be able to get across the shoal without busting yourself to pieces on the rock. Not yet at least.

The shape doesn't move, so she stands and approaches it carefully.

It's a man, buried facedown in the sand, the tail of his flannel shirt whipping back and forth in the wind. There's something about the way his legs are arranged, one knee up by the small of his back, that tells her his back is broken. There's sand in his hair, and his fingernails are torn and blue.

She looks around again. Then she raises her foot and pokes the man's back with her toe. Nothing happens so she pokes him again, harder.

That's when he starts squirming.

There are muffled sounds coming from his throat, strained grunts and growls—frustration and pathos rather than suffering or pain. His arms begin to sweep the sand as if to make an angel. And there's a writhing, rippling movement that goes through the muscles of his body, as of a broken toy twitching with mechanical repetition, unable to right itself.

Meatskin, she says aloud.

One of the hands catches at her ankle, but she kicks it off.

She sits down beside him and leans back on her hands and braces her feet up against the torso and pushes the body so that it flips over faceup, leaving a crooked, wet indentation in the sand.

One arm is still flailing, but the other is caught under his back so she stays on that side of him and kneels over his exposed face.

The jaw is missing altogether, along with one of the eyes. The face is blistered black and torn. A flap of skin on the cheekbone is pulled back and pasted with wet sand, revealing the yellow white of bone and cartilage underneath. The place where the eye was is now a mushy soup of thick clear fluid mixed with blood, like ketchup eggs. There's a string of kelp sticking out of the nose that makes him look almost comical—as though someone has played a practical joke on him.

But the rightness of his face is distorted by the missing mandible. Even revolting things can be made to look whole if there is a symmetry to them— but with the jaw gone, the face looks squat and the neck looks absurdly equine.

She moves her fingers back and forth before his one good eye, and the eye rolls around in its socket trying to follow the movement but stuttering in its focus. Then she puts her fingers down where the mouth would be. He has a set of upper teeth, cracked and brittle, but nothing beneath to bite down against. When she puts her fingers there, she can see the tendons tucked in behind his teeth clicking away in a radial pattern. There are milky white bones jutting out where the mandible would be attached and yellow ligaments like rubber bands stretching and relaxing, stretching and relaxing, with the ghost motion of chewing.

What you gonna do? she says. Bite me? I think your biting days are gone away, mister.

She takes her hand from his face and sits back, looking at him.

He gets his head shifted in her direction and keeps squirming.

Stop fightin against yourself, she says. Your back's broke. You ain't going nowhere. This is just about the end of your days.

She sighs and casts a gaze over the rocky shoal in the distance, the wide flat mainland beyond.

What'd you come here for anyway, meatskin? she says. Did you smell some girlblood carried on the wind? Did you just have to have some? I know you didn't swim here. Too slow and stupid for that.

There is a gurgle in his throat and a blue crab bursts out from the sandy exposed end of the windpipe and scurries away.

You know what I think? she says. I think you tried to climb across those rocks. And I think you got picked up by those waves and got bust apart pretty good. That's what I think. What do you say about that?

He has worked the arm free from underneath him and reaches toward her. But the fingers fall short by inches and dig furrows in the sand.

Well, she says, you shoulda been here last night. There was a moon so big you could just about reach up and pluck it out of the sky. And these fish, all electriclike, buzzing in circles round my ankles. It was something else, mister. I'm telling you, a miracle if ever there was one.

She looks at the rolling eye and the shuddering torso.

Maybe you ain't so interested in miracles. But still and all, you can cherish a miracle without deserving one. We're all of us beholden to the beauty of the world, even the bad ones of us. Maybe the bad ones most of all.

She sighs, deep and long.

Anyway, she says, I guess you heard enough of my palaver. Listen to me, I'm doin enough jawing for the both of us. Enough jawing for the both of us— get it?

She laughs at her joke, and her laughter trails off as she stands and brushes the sand off her palms and looks out over the water to the mainland. Then she walks up to a stand of palm trees above the beach and looks in the grassy undergrowth, stomping around with her feet until she finds what she's looking for. It's a big rock, bigger than a football. It takes her half an hour to dig around it with a stick and extract it from the earth. Nature doesn't like to be tinkered with.

Then she carries the rock back down to the beach where the man is lying mostly still.

When he sees her, he comes to life again and begins squirming and shuddering and guggling his throat.

Anyway, she says to him, you're the first one that got here. That counts, I guess. It makes you like Christopher Columbus or something. But this tide and all—you wanna bet there's more of you coming? You wanna bet there's all your slug friends on their way? That's a pretty safe bet, I'd say.

She nods and looks out over the shoal again.

Okay then, she says, lifting the rock up over her head and bringing it down on his face with a thick wet crunch.

The arms are still moving, but she knows that happens for a while afterward sometimes. She lifts the rock again and brings it down twice more just to make sure.

Then she leaves the rock where it is, like a headstone, and goes down to her fishing net and finds a medium-sized fish in it and takes the fish back up to the lighthouse, where she cooks it over a fire and eats it with salt and pepper.

Then she climbs the steps to the top of the tower and goes out on the catwalk and looks far off toward the mainland.

She kneels down and puts her chin against the cold metal railing and says:

I reckon it's time to move along again.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 64 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(29)

4 Star

(27)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 64 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 15, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This is a slow and emotionally intense story. The main protagoni

    This is a slow and emotionally intense story. The main protagonist is a hard and simple young woman who is as kind as her circumstances allow her to be. I'll be honest, I cried over this book. The various people you meet through Temple are an interesting and varied lot and you get to see how vastly different people can turn out in a post-apocalyptic world. All of the characterizations made sense for the situations the characters were in, and the world building was excellent.

    The only reason this got a four instead of a five from me was that I didn't find it believable that people and society would still have some of the luxuries they were shown to have in the story.

    Fair warning: It's a brutal story.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2014

    Be prepared to suspend your disbelief

    I'm more than willing to accept that Zombies roam the earth, but some aspects of this novel defy belief. Society collapsed at least 15 years ago, and yet the protagonist can hop into a car abandoned for decades and start it. What about fuel spoilage, battery drain? Entire cities have power. How? Who's maintaining the infrastructure? This might have been a readable novel, but the author's lazy world building spoiled it for this reader.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    This book was amazing. With all honesty, this has to be one of t

    This book was amazing. With all honesty, this has to be one of the best books that I've ever read. With huge twists and turns throughout the plot, with relationships and characters you'll never forget, all leading up to the shocking conclusion that will bring a tear to your eye. Hands down this has to be a book you will be reading under the covers at night, and afterwards lying on your pillow, regretting that you had read it in the dark. The only down side of his book is that it uses no quotation marks, but does add a new line with every new speaker. So to  tell who is speaking, you might have to pay close attention. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    This is my all time favorite book!

    This is my all time favorite book!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    Pretty great

    This book is full of action and suspence along with amazing characters. Temple is a girl whom the reader will be voting for until the very end. A reccomended read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2012

    Quick, fantastic read!

    This book is a quick read (you could get through it in a dedicated 2-3 hours), but it is well worth your time. I don't mind that they didn't explain how the outbreak happened, but was hard to believe that gas stations would still have gas and edible food on the shelves this many years after society decayed.
    But if you can activate a willing suspension of disbelief about some of the technical aspects of this book, you should really enjoy it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 18, 2012

    Best Book I have read this year.

    This is an amazingly good book that happens to be set in a zombie apocalypse. If you like The Road or Game of Thrones you will likely enjoy this. The book has a number of nice twists, an oddball section and some amazingly good sections. There is a nice Southern Gothic feel to the language and scenery that I particularly enjoyed. If you don't enjoy dark fantasy or zombies you still might find this worth your time. Highly Recommended.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Loved it!

    In this intelligent and affecting post-apocalyptic tale a fifteen year old zombie-killing orphan called Temple makes her way across a ruined American landscape on a mission to return a mentally handicapped man to his family, if they're still alive. She's pursued by a man sworn to kill her and haunted by a tragic past. Her story grabs you and refuses to let go until the shocking and heart-wrenching conclusion.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2011

    Love it

    This novel is awesome. A different take on zombies.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Amazing book

    The Reapers are the Angel is one of those books that people aren't going to expect, and that many otherwise avid horror fans might end up over looking. A gothic southern tale of a girl who lives alone after the zombie uprising it does for zombies what Interview with a Vampire did for vampires.
    Temple is barely a teenager, left to survive in a failing world. She's illiterate, had never know family or a world without zombies yet she's searching the world for something she can't put a name to. Despite her very different way of thinking she's easily an Everyman for a wide swath of readers who find this book.
    Intensely strange, deeply emotional this is a zombie tale not to be missed, or underestimated in the sea of knock off biohorror apocalypse books. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, but readers should beware that Bell's intoxicating tale will pull you in and make it very hard to let go. An absolute must have for modern horror collections.
    Contains: language, violence, attempted rape, sex

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Zombies!

    I enjoyed this book! A very well written and unique tale of a Zombie Invasion!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 27, 2011

    Highly Recommended -YA book

    Wow! A fantastic read. The very young heroine of the story faces internal struggles of whether what she does is right or wrong during a time where the world is populated with zombies and other horrible mutants. As she travels through the U.S. she faces many obstacles, but she is one tough kid who faces all battles and kills for survival. I even enjoyed the ending, which was rather unexpected.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 30, 2010

    Touched

    wow this is a zombie novel - yet i feel sad! Great, great read! Touching!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2010

    My Best Book of 2010!

    If you had told me that a novel about a zombie apocalypse would make my top 5 books of 2010, I'd have said you were crazy. But that's before I read The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell. The reason this "zombie" novel rates so highly is because it isn't really about zombies. It's the story of a 15-year-old girl's struggle for survival in a world that has become unbelievably hostile. Zombies are just the menace; they could easily be replaced by another obstacle and the work would not suffer.

    It's interesting that there are two apocalyptic novels this summer. The mega blockbuster by Justin Cronin, The Passage, also tells the story of a young girl and how she survives in a world overrun by vampires (albeit vampires who share zombie-like behavior). But the heroine of The Passage is a possible savior of the world. Temple, the heroine of Alden Bell's book, is not the world's savior. She's trying to survive and find some way to atone for the massive evil she believes she has committed.

    I liked The Passage a lot. But I loved The Reapers Are the Angels. In some sense it is more akin to Cronin's first book, Mary and O'Neil, with its lyrical prose and moments of heart-stopping beauty. I point to the scene where Temple and Maury break into the Art Museum and are mesmerized by the beauty of the paintings. Those few paragraphs burn with an intensity rarely seen in modern literature. They sparkle with beauty and irony and sadness and when I encountered them I had to stop and really think about what I was reading. And, of course, read that passage again.

    If you are looking for the equivalent of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, you'll probably be disappointed by The Reapers Are the Angels. But if you want to read about a journey across a scarred land that deals with the questions of good and evil and has a heroine who is tough and funny and instantly likeable, this is the book for you.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A great book and with a great heroine.

    Temple, a fifteen-year-old girl, wanders the broken landscape of a destroyed world. Although it's never clear what transpired, it's assumed that some sort of nuclear event wiped out most of civilization. What's left are ruins. There are small pockets of people here and there trying to put the world back together, but in addition to these colonies, there are others. Mainly, those that return from the dead. Zombies, slugs, meatskins. They lurch through the streets and crawl upon the ground. Although they are a nuisance, their lack of speed allows for easy disposal and Temple can't remember a time when they didn't exist. Along the way, Temple meets some interesting characters. Self-sufficient to a fault, she realizes along the way that people matter, that SHE matters and it becomes a journey of self-discovery. I was completely surprised by The Reapers are the Angels. Just a few pages in, I was thinking, "What have I gotten myself into?" The opening was gritty and sort of sickening and another blogger even mentioned to me that she couldn't get past the story's opening. But there was something there that kept me going. I do believe it was story's heroine, Temple. She's endearing in a backward, kiss-ass way. A diamond in-the-rough, so to speak. She reminded me a lot of Lisbeth Salander from the Millennium Trilogy. Temple is tough, but inherently good and she doesn't even know it. This innocence is what reminded me of Lisbeth. As Temple makes her trek across the country, she runs into all sorts of interesting and sometimes, vile characters. At times her interactions with them are uncomfortable. I say uncomfortable because their intentions are not always admirable and she knows it and sort of talks out loud about what is going on. There is one scene with these giant, mutated people. This particular scene is incredibly disturbing. Not disturbing in a graphic way (well, maybe a little), but twisted, backwoods, disturbing. It reminded me of this scene in Texas Chainsaw Massacre where they are all at the dinner table "eating." Remember that scene? Dysfunctional with a capital D. There were times where I felt this book was just wild!! Other times, there was this quiet, beautiful thing going on and I would actually linger on the page a bit longer to enjoy it. This is one of those books that you cannot peg at first glance. It has zombies in it, but it's not a book about zombies. It's about good vs. evil, trust, responsibility, regret, appreciating what you have and there are larger themes here dealing with death and religion and life after death. Overall, very thought provoking.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 31, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Absolutely loved it!

    Oh boy! I stayed up way too late last night - I literally could not put down The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell. I have a fondness for post-apocalyptic novels and this one grabbed and wouldn't let go of me 'til the last page.

    Sometime in the future, zombies have stumbled about the land for over twenty five years, eating whatever humans they can catch. Temple has been born into this world and knows no other. She remembers living with an old man and a boy who might have been her brother. Now fifteen and with heartache and tragedy her constant companions, she travels what is left of the world that was, seeking something. Her chance encounter with a man named Maury could be her salvation - although she doesn't recognize it as such. And an encounter with a man named Moses could be her downfall.

    Reapers was such a great read on so many levels. The uncertainty of what Bell would come up with next in this world and what Temple would encounter had me holding my breath and frantically turning pages. Temple as a character was fascinating. Old beyond her years, born into a world with no compass, she has her own sense of morality and direction. The conversations she has with those she meets in her travels and herself are quite philosophical.

    "See it's a daily chore tryin to do the right thing. Not because the right thing is hard to do - it ain't. It's just cause the right thing - well, the right thing's got a way of eluding you. You give me a compass that tells good from bad, and boy I'll be a soldier of the righteous truth. But them two things are a slippery business and tellin then apart might as well be a blind man's guess. And sometimes, you just get tired of pokin at the issue. Those are the times you just do something because you're tired of thinkin on it. And that's when the devil better get his pencil ready to tally up a score, cause the time for nuances is gone. And you think, that's it for me on this world. You think, all right then hell is my home."
    The setting is mostly in the Southern states and has a distinct Southern gothic tone. In the cover blurb, author Michael Gruber compared it to Flannery OConnor's style - an apt description. Athough the book has zombies, they are more of a supporting platform than a main focus. How they came to be is never explained. Granted, there is a fair amount of violence and blood spilled, so be warned. But it is Temple and her personal journey that captivated me.

    An excellent read for me - definitely 5 stars. This novel would appeal to those who enjoyed Cormac McCarthy's The Road or Richard Matheson's I Am Legend. I can see this being made into a movie as well.

    (interesting sidenote - the title seems to be taken from the Bible - Matthew, Chapter 13, verse 39 King James version) "The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels."

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2010

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    Book Review - The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell

    (Advance Readers Copy)
    Holt Paperbacks 2010
    Trade Paperback
    240 pages

    In light of the wealth of post-apocalyptic stories like The Book of Eli, The Road, and The Passage, now filling book shelves and movie theatres all across America "The Reapers Are the Angels" by Alden Bell turned out to be both a pleasant surprise and a real treat to read and in some ways is better than the others I've mentioned above. I had never heard of this book or the author before so had no preconceived notions concerning any hype or advertising that might be attached. I delved into it without pause and found that I literally could not put it down. Perhaps its my penchant towards post-apocalyptic fiction (you'll notice I used the word "wealth" above for good reason) which goes back to my early readings of book like Deus Irae, A Canticle For Liebowitz, and Dahlgren. So, I knew I had to read this as soon as it appeared in the mailbox.

    And I did, and was quite pleased to find what I believe might one of the year's best sub-genre releases. Remarkably, Reapers fits snuggly into the mold set by the Science Fiction classics mentioned earlier. The character development is extraordinary, the antagonist(s) (and yes there are more than one), and the main characters, and even the zombies, known as meatsacks, are believable and well-written. One character, and I won't spoil the story here, gets into an almost impossible situation. Later in the story he appears again with no explanation given of his escape. One wonders if another book set in the same universe from this particular characters' POV isn't in the making. I'd pay to read that one, too.

    4 out of 5 stars

    The Alternative
    Southeast Wisconsin

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastic, quick read!

    FANTASTIC book!!! I was drawn in from the very beginning and flipped through the pages as quickly as I could! This novel never slows down and keeps you interested from beginning to end.....and what a shocking end it is!!!
    HIGHLY recommended!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 7, 2010

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    An awesome post-apocalyptic read!

    It is a bleak and desolate world, with pockets of humanity scattered around the country. The world is inhabited by both humans and zombies (referred to in the book as "meatskins" or "slugs"), although these zombies really aren't quite as terrifying as in most zombie stories. They're sorta slow and meandering, and relatively easy to defeat. I'm really surprised at how many people get killed or attacked by them and how feared they are, all things considered!

    In this desolate world, it is the humans that are far more dangerous than the zombie population. And alone in this world is a young, tenacious fifteen-year-old girl, being chased by her own demons.

    I love Temple. She's haunting, but strong and courageous and smart and sympathetic. There is really something of a kinship between her and the character of Moses Todd. They really "get" one another. It's as if they are playing by the same rules in the same game, while everyone else in the world is playing by a different set of rules. The two of them are the reapers in a world of saints and sinners , and Temple is a little uncomfortable with her role in this world.

    I also love the cover of this book! It transfixes me everytime my eyes fall on it.

    Oh, please someone make this into a movie! What a fun movie this could be! I can see the scenes playing out in my head. However I also have a bit of an alternate ending playing out in my head as well.

    There is definitely some "suspension of disbelief" required, beyond that required for a basic zombie/post-apocalyptic story. For instance, the fact that this is supposed to be something like 25 years after zombies appeared on the scene and the breakdown of government and society and life as it was known, and yet there is still gas available in working gas stations, and the gas hasn't gone bad after sitting for decades. Shoot! The gas can go bad in a weed-eater or lawn mower after just sitting for one season!

    I really enjoyed this story! If you like post-apocalyptic, give this one a tumble. It's a quick and easy read, very well-written, with some fun, rip-roaring moments. I look forward to more from Alden Bell!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2010

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    grim convergence of horror with science fiction

    Fifteen years old Temple has learned one thing in her life; either one kills the zombies and other predators or they die. She can never remember a time before the Meatskins when the globe was relatively safe, but recalls the old man and her younger sibling before she was forced to begin her trek to nowhere.

    At an alleged safe house, human Abraham Todd assaults her. Following her credo, she kills him but flees before his family or allies can come after her. Outraged by the teen's murder of his brother, Moses vows to find, torture and kill Temple. On her trek, Temple finds a dim witted mute Maury who starts tagging along with her. She cannot shake him and soon feels responsible for his safety; as he brings back memories she would prefer to forget. Meanwhile Moses stalks her and the meatskin zombies chase her and her companion.

    The world of Alden Bell is a dark place, a terrible place to live but Temple refuses to die so circumstances of survival has made her one of the fittest and toughest. Temple makes the grim convergence of horror with science fiction work as she seeks redemption instead of the remorse that fills her soul. Her journey is deadly battling predators of all kind; some who would rape and then kill her; other who would eat her to death. The Reapers Are the Angeles is an exciting fast-paced thriller that grips readers from start to finish.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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