The Reapers Are the Angels: A Novel

The Reapers Are the Angels: A Novel

by Alden Bell

Paperback(First Edition)

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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.

“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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805092431
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 08/03/2010
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 311,160
Product dimensions: 5.64(w) x 11.04(h) x 0.65(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About 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.

Read an Excerpt


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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The Reapers Are the Angels 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 103 reviews.
TMBreck More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
-Hunter More than 1 year ago
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. 
Avid_Reader38 More than 1 year ago
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.
The_Alternative More than 1 year ago
(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
CharminKB More than 1 year ago
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!
blodeuedd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
25 years ago they started to emerge, humans tried to fight back, and fought for years, but now the land lies kind of dead. People hiding behind barricades, and hunters on the road, fighting one zombie at a time. Among theses are 15 year old Temple, all on her own. All she ever has know has been death and destruction. She moves from place to place, hiding, running, fighting, and soon running from more that just zombies.I liked Temple, she was kick-ass for sure. But then she grew up in a world that had slowly lost the fight. She is a good with a knife, she says what she thinks, and she remembers those that have fallen. She also feels that there is a darkness within her, but growing up like that who can blame her.It is not a scary book, there is no real zombie action. She avoids them best she can, she knows their tricks, and they are pretty slow and stupid. The danger here is more from other humans. When society falls so those everything. You learn about those that prayed on other humans, and then the most scary of them all show up, hillbillies, you'll see. But there are also nice people, just trying to get by, and helping each other.The book had this strange and nice flow to it. It was like it was happening, and like it had happened, would happen. I liked it, he has a talent. It was a good book, and a sad one.What do I think, well if people just manage to survive, then they will outlive the zombies, or this world will become a barren wasteland. I do wonder, since I do not get that answer.This was a different sort of zombie book. It reminded me a bit of The Road, I have only seen the movie, but it had the same hopelessness to it, and hope. It is a story about a young woman on the road, aged far beyond her years.
kayceel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I requested this one because I love zombies, survival and teenage protaganists, and this one has all that, plus horror, suspense, redemption and sorrow.Temple was born ten years after a zombie apocalypse, and started running from the 'meatskins' when they overran her foster home and has been traveling ever since. At fifteen, she's become talented at surviving, whether by running or by standing and fighting. After meeting up with a large group of survivors, she runs afoul of a pair of brothers, and must run again.Temple is a strong young woman. She's pragmatic and despite the state of her world - small pockets of survivors surrounded by decay and zombies - she notices the small things and treasures the thought of one day seeing Niagra Falls.This reminds me very much of McCarthy's The Road - dark and desperate, but ultimately hopeful.Recommended.
Twink on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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."
cmwilson101 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Plan to stay up all night and call in sick to work - this book demands attention. It is a compelling and beautifully written story of a Temple, a young woman surviving in a zombie-infested world. Temple is a self-sufficient woman, strong, skilled at survival; action abounds as she takes a journey across America, fighting zombies along the way. The road-trip action story is satisfying on its own, but at a deeper level it is absolutely enthralling because Temple is a unique and contemplative heroine who ponders the meaning of life and searches out beauty even as she kills zombies. Her story raises questions about the difference between good and evil, human motivation and satisfaction, and ultimately death itself.There are several reasons that this book stands out from others in the crowd of zombie literature: the writing is beautiful, lyrical; Temple has been born many years after a zombie apocalypse, and zombies thus are simply a part of life; and the emphasis of the story is not on horror and despair but rather on beauty and hope. For these reasons, and the tightly woven plot, this is a hugely satisfying read which deserves to be considered one of the best books of the year. Alden Bell is a newish author, and I hope he has a long and productive life because I am waiting to read more from him.
Meggle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I haven't read too many zombie novels but this book was totally not what I was expecting. It was a little deeper than your typical hack and slash zombie apocalypse novel, although it did have its share of gory parts. The story follows a fifteen year old girl named Temple through a zombie infested America. She meets many different characters along the way and ends up running from a man whose brother she killed while trying to return a half witted man named Maury to his relatives in Texas all the while wrestling with the demons of her past. The author has a very beautiful way of writing which at times reads almost like poetry. A great read.
KromesTomes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
[The Angels Are the Reapers] by [[Alden Bell]]First, a word of caution: Although this book is scheduled for ¿young adult crossover marketing¿ per its back-cover copy, this book is likely to be considered YA-friendly only by the same kind of people who consider [[Stephen King]] to be YA-friendly. The level of gore is that high, and there are some sexual situations that might give some parents pause as well.Also, note that this is NOT a spoiler-free review.That all being said, I have to say that although there are the bones of a pretty good novel buried in this book, it¿s all but overshadowed by Bell¿s too-often overly florid language and some awfully unrealistic plot points (even considering this is a zombie book).The story follows a 15-year-old girl named Temple--or sometimes Sarah Mary Williams, depending on her mood--who was born some 10 years after a zombie apocalypse strikes the world. It¿s an interesting twist, and sets the stage for Temple¿s road trip through a variety of different environments that show the different ways people are coping (or not) with the disaster. But after Temple kills a guy attempting to rape her, the guy¿s brother swears a vendetta against her and chases her through a variety of heavily symbolic set pieces through which she eventually learns that people back in our times were essentially zombies, too, etc., etc.But it was exceedingly difficult to get past the voice the author used for Temple, and of a significant part of the narration as well. Consider the following passage, which comes after the attempted rape/murder, when Temple¿s on the run and comes to a river, where she washes, and she¿s described as being ¿like a tiny despoiled innocent washing away the marks of her ruin, dunking her head under the baptismal fount of heaven, and rising up again with the pink of her flesh beginning to show through the mask of putrefaction.¿A little of this goes a long way, but there¿s a lot of this. And I suppose it¿s the kind of thing that leads blurber [[Michael Gruber]] to call the book ¿an astonishing twist on southern gothic: Like [[Flannery O¿Connor]] with zombies.¿ But not only does this tone not match with what little background we get about Temple¿s upbringing, but even if it did, it would still have to be considered so far over the top as to bring the whole edifice down.My final take: Not recommended.
Wova4 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After several days of consideration I can't decide if Alden Bell should be commended for running with and improving on an idea or pilloried for outright theft considering the novel The Reapers Are Angels. This book cannot possibly be reviewed without comparing it to the source, Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Both novels feature an apocalyptic world at some point after the initial accident/whatever upended civilization. Both are brooding stories of the difficulty of travel and show hints of what mankind has fallen to. Each focuses on a central pair of characters, one dependent upon the other to navigate their world. Bell even choose to discard quotation marks in dialogue, as if to prove himself as a stylist on par with McCarthy (not going to debate either end of that assertion). Both end with a death and an indifferent continuation as another character picks up the load and carries the child-figure on.There are differences as well. Bell's apocalypse is peopled with the living dead--classic slow-moving, hardly-dangerous zombies. There is even one surprising group of other-classed beings that the protagonist stumbles into. With this, The Reapers Are Angels does devolve into more pulpy action sequences as befits the situation. Bell also intentionally infuses place into his story, looking at the decay of the Southeastern U.S., where McCarthy made his lands anonymous. The section on the wealthy estate was the best diversion among all elements, in my opinion.If you like your apocalypses to feel real, this book will be very frustrating. Bell's apocalypse is an unbelievable land of plenty. We're told the main character is 15 or 16 and can't remember the way the world once was, so we're looking at 10 years of fallen civilization. Yet, the character finds unlooted gas stations stocked with still-edible crackers, running water many places, and areas with working electric grids. The various small outposts of humanity seem to always have a cold coke for her when she craves it. Running vehicles and gas are readily at hand. And yet, this doesn't seem to be a soft apocalypse with any functional government or infrastructure. Anyone who has read "The World Without Us" will feel how badly thought-out things are.Thus my ambivalent review. I feel Bell could do very good things, but he's been caught writing too much like another book and lacking appropriate world-building. Give it a try if you're a fan of the genre, but steer clear if you find your preferences in line with my comments above.
EKAnderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Of all the books I've read so far this year, THE REAPERS ARE THE ANGELS is one I keep coming back to. I can't stop thinking about Temple, a young girl in the barren wasteland that is America, who can't remember a time when she wasn't trying to outrun zombies and stay a step ahead of would-be predators. Temple forges ahead against all odds, sometimes with only faith to keep her going, encountering character after character -- a wealthy family holed up in their estate, a "dummy," post-apocalyptic cowboys, and a man named Moses, who will follow her to the end of the earth in the name of revenge. REAPERS is a striking novel, as creepy as THE ROAD but also as artfully written and emotionally intense. With a fiery female protagonist, a twist around every corner, and enough monsters to keep you awake all night, Alden Bell's novel isn't one you'll soon forget either.
NKSCF on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow, I was not expecting this book to be as good as it was. With a main character you will care about immediately, intricately described and wondrously-devised plots, as well as an interesting premise, The Reapers Are the Angels is definitely one of the best books to come out this year.Temple is a young woman born into a world several years after it has been almost overwhelmed by zombies. Traveling alone in the South, she stays with no one more than she has to, but on the way she finds herself gaining allies and enemies during the trip.I was a little disappointed by the bittersweet ending, but the writing makes it work excellently. The book's strengths more than make up for its minor weak points along the way, and I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a great, character-driven story.
theepicrat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story starts off just fine - the writing superb - Temple has been living on a remote island that finally gets breached with its first "meatskin" (zombie). Which means more will eventually be coming, so she decides to head back to the mainland (America) and make the most of her time left on Earth by seeing the sights. Which makes total sense - I mean, why stay holed up when you can travel the world, that is, as long as you are equipped to handle zombies. Thankfully, the zombies are the slow-moving type in this book, so really her chances of survival are pretty phenomenal.So I was reading along just fine for the first 50 pages or so, and then I hit a roadblock when Temple picks up a traveling companion who is virtually mute and things just get weirder and weirder. And maybe I didn't read too closely to see if their relationship changed, but I didn't appreciate Temple's attitude towards her unexpected (and unwanted) companion - sure, she showed pity by having him tag along, but did she have to treat him like a dog?Long story short, The Reapers Are The Angels feels more like a literary zombie fiction that might fall in the same category as any of William Faulkner's books (which I haven't read, so maybe I'm off, but I totally had the same reaction!), but with zombies. It was like The Forest Of Hands And Teeth / Carrie Ryan, but the more adult version with some more grown-up themes, and without as much amazing vibes.
booksandwine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It seems that paranormal/horror is becoming so incredibly popular, that even the literati are getting in on it. First, there was The Passage, a literary tale of vampires and the downfall of society. Now, there is The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell, a much more formal take on zombies, than the urban fantasy and YA fare that I am used to.The Reapers Are The Angels takes place 25 years after the zombies have risen. Society has completely degraded. People now live in isolated enclaves. Temple, a 16 year old girl, has many secrets. As she roves the land of the living dead, she tries to outrun her past as well as out run a very real foe. You would think with the countless incantations of zombies, that nothing original can be added to the genre. I mean, how many takes can you have on dead people rising and eating brains? Most of the time with Zombie books you get an insane amount of death, infection, and some gore along the way. It's typically a lot of action, some questions on society, the end. I have no complaints on that. I quite enjoy those types of stories. The Reapers Are The Angels is different in that there is a literary flavor to the prose, sprinkled with deep meaning, which totally flew over my head. The style in which this story is told is very similar to The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I guess it is me, but I much prefer stories of apocalypse told in the Stephen King style than in this sort of sophistication. I just connect better with the characters when the writing is less formal. I rather liked this quote:"It was a powerful sight and spoke of ingenuity and human pride and the deathless spector of evolution -- a thing of mightiness that cast its shadow far out past the road, and beyond that to the fertile plains of America. A country of foolishness and wonderment and capital and perversity." pg. 88Disclosure: This book received for review.
booksmitten on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a post-apocalyptic zombie novel that is unequivocally influenced by William Faulkner, from its style to its themes to some plot points and the names of its two main characters, not to mention most of the bit parts. When I noticed the names Temple and Maury in the review, I knew the author was up to something. I might go so far as to call it a mash-up, IF there weren't so many of those floating around after a certain zombie mash-up became a bestseller. And I'd argue that it's better than all of them.Temple is a great character, and there is a long journey to deliver a body -- in this case a living one -- through a landscape of walking dead, to a family that may or may not still be there. She grapples with her identity, with her baser instincts, with her perceptions of God and duty and right and wrong in a broken world. History is a living, swirling thing, and "The past is never dead. It's not even past." In fact, it's still walking around. Aldon Bell also channels Faulkner when he describes so lyrically the bits of beauty that are always ensconced in decay, and the broad sweeping descriptions of the horizon and the road and the land."She raises her gaze and her eyes blur teary in the cool wind and all the lights of the city go wild and multiple, and she wipes her eyes and sits in one of the chairs and looks out beyond the periphery of the power grid where the black rolls out like an ocean."Despite the fact that it borders on derivative much of the time, I found this book to be enjoyable, thought-provoking, smart, and occasionally really beautiful. I would have never thought that I'd read a zombie novel, but look at that, the pigs are flying.It felt pretty episodic, which is neither here nor there. And I didn't like the last two sentences. But oh well. It is totally worth reading.
tibobi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Short of It:A dark, grisly little tale of a world taken over by zombies. But, the bright spot lies within its heroine, one of my faves, right up there with Lisbeth Salander.The Rest of It: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.The Reapers are the Angels does contain some violence and will turn your stomach in some places, but if you can get past those moments, I think you¿ll be just as surprised by this book as I was. In this sense, it¿s very similar to The Road. It¿s tough to read in places but what you take away from it makes it worth the effort.Some have asked me if this book falls into the category of dystopian fiction. It has a dystopian feel to it and you certainly get the feeling that a collapsed government is what caused the devastation, but there is no repressive and controlled state that is typical with dystopian fiction. It¿s not straight thriller either. It¿s definitely a hybrid of a few different genres
IbnAlNaqba on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've got to say, Alden Bell's novel The Reapers Are The Angels is a vast improvement over the majority of available zombie long fiction. Bell takes the zombie genre and does what I desperately wish so many other authors would do with it... he tells a story that's set in a zombie apocalypse, rather than just piling on action. Not only that, but Bell is actually a pretty good writer, with linguistic stylings that carry the reader beyond mere visualization and into something almost poetic. One can't help but be impressed with his emulation of Southern dialogue, though he seems a bit ill-acquainted with the south at times (For example, we don't have a lot of basements in Florida, Alden. Too close to the water table, our rural meth labs are on the ground floor). He also builds a pretty fair storyline, though the main attraction here is his use of descriptive language and dialogue. And zombies, of course. Can't forget the zombies. I love the phrases he uses for them. So what we have here is a fine zombie novel, pretty close to top-notch. I felt the need to subtract a half-star for his lack of acquaintance with the South, which helped pull me out of the story on rare occasions (but hey, I live here... can't expect perfection from someone who doesn't), but apart from that this is a 4 1/2 to 5 star novel. An excellent read, all things considered.
BeckyJG on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Every day is a struggle when your species is no longer at the top of the food chain. Fifteen year old Temple has never known an existence free of quotidian scrabbling for food, shelter, and clothing. She grew up knowing how to kill when necessary; in particular, she grew up knowing how to administer the coup de grace that would render the tirelessly shuffling, voracious zombies that have overrun the world truly dead. Temple learned how to kill people, as well, and she learned at a very early age how to make sure that a dead person wouldn't succumb to the virus that infected the world a quarter of a century earlier and rise again to join the shambling ranks of the undead.Temple's landscape is a bleak one. Cities are full of mostly abandoned buildings, highways are littered with the hulks of cars left to rust where they lay, and people are either too frightened or too evil to make any attempt to work together to rebuild society. She has been traveling for most of her short life, sometimes with others but lately mostly alone. So far, so typical, of pretty much every post-apocalyptic road novel written in the last three decades. And The Reapers Are the Angels does indeed make use of all of the genre's now hoary tropes. Zombies, mutants, gangs of thugs and rapists, good but clueless people holed up on their family estate--they're all here. But although this novel is a really good horror read, it is so much more than that as well.To start, there's Alden Bell's glorious, soaring prose. Here are the opening paragraphs:"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 then there is the psychological depth with which Bell has written. Temple is a smart girl and a resourceful one. Her heart is a warrior's. She's illiterate, but has the soul of a poet. She's also introspective and haunted; as her story unfolds we learn that she's running from a mistake--the mistake of a child, but one from which she will never fully recover. Although she does make enemies--she kills a man who attempts to rape her and spends the rest of the book pursued by his brother, who is bent on revenge--still, she does good along the way, not to make amends (in her world, there are far too many kill-or-be-killed scenarios) but because she has an abiding understanding of what is right. It's not surprising that the heroine of a novel should have such layers, but that the villain should also be nuanced came as a surprise. Although Moses Todd, the vengeful brother, never loses his single-minded resolve to kill Temple when he catches up with her, our last glimpse of him sees him in an utterly surprising, but wholly believable, act of compassion. The Reapers Are the Angels is that rare book that is a delicious read both for its story and for the quality of its writing. In fact, I would
Homechicken on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Let me start by saying I like the story so I can explain why I only gave it 1.5 stars. The primary reason is the fact that the entire text has not one single quotation mark. All conversations are written as every other paragraph. I was often confused when a character was speaking and when they were thinking, or something else was being described. As if that wasn't bad enough, the constant barrage of "should of" and "could of" were so immensely distracting that it ripped me from the experience of the story every time I ran across one.So 4.5 stars for the Zombie Apocalypse story from the viewpoint of a young woman, but the delivery was so flawed that it dragged down the entire book.
mel-L-co0l-j on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Blurb~~ ¿A slug dressed in black with a white preacher's collar lifts his hand toward the sky as if calling upon the god of dead things, while a rotting woman in a wedding dress sits open-legged against a wall, rubbing the lace hem against her cheek.¿You trapped me, Mr. Bell; and you did it with glee, and the most unabashed lack of remorse. I innocently picked up this utterly addictive tale by Alden Bell, aka Joshua Gaylord, on an evening in which I had urgent and dire projects to complete. I never got to them; I was immediately bewitched. The pleasantly disconcerting imagery quickly owned me, and soon thereafter, I became intrigued with the protagonist, Temple. Temple is a mesmerizing, psychologically intriguing young girl, who we follow as she traverses the US, trying to stay one step ahead of the living dead. Temple relishes her curses at least as much as her redemptions, and this is her draw. You¿ll remain fairly off-balance throughout the tale, never quite sure if she¿s a saint or a devil, never quite sure you should really dig her as much as you do. The other characters in the tale are no less amazing in their depth. The Reapers isn't your standard zombie treatment. Very few zombie cliches are utilized, and the ones that are quickly become unrecognizable. This novel is part zombie fun and mayhem, part philosophy on the human condition. No punches are pulled; the ball hits the target every time, and you end up dunked in ice-cold water. With sharks. Thanks for the meatskin tango, Mr. Bell. Read it.________________________________________________________________________________Full Review~~ ¿See, God is a slick god. He makes it so you don't miss out on nothing you're supposed to witness firsthand.¿ -- TempleYou trapped me, Mr. Bell; and you did it with glee, and the most unabashed lack of remorse.I innocently picked up The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell (a pen name for Joshua Gaylord) on an evening in which I had urgent and dire projects to complete. I never got to them; I was immediately bewitched. The pleasantly disconcerting, trenchant imagery quickly owned me, and soon thereafter, I became intrigued with the protagonist, Temple. I'd never encountered Temple¿s particular psyche, in real life or in lit; yet Alden made her completely believable and human, without sacrificing her unsettling charm. You¿ll remain fairly off-balance throughout the tale, never quite sure if she¿s a saint or a devil, never quite sure you should really dig her as much as you do. ¿Those are the times you 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... You think, all right then, hell is my home. And she raises the gurkha and brings it down.¿We follow Temple as she traverses the US, trying to stay one step ahead of the living dead, grimly determined to experience life in the process. Temple relishes the dank at least as much as her redemptions, and this is her draw. And who's worse -- The plague-ridden monsters, or the unaffected? The folks Temple encounters are unexpected, amazing, and pure ¿ whether they're cutting off Temple's finger or bedding her ¿ and this makes for a dizzyingly fun and disturbing tale. ¿His will to destroy her, and her will to remain undestroyed ¿ both things are beautiful and holy.¿The Reapers isn't your standard zombie treatment. Very few zombie cliches are utilized, and the ones that are quickly become unrecognizable. The story is part zombie fun and mayhem, part philosophical allegory about the human condition. There are shades of Objectivist and Humanist philosophy, though whether Bell's tale is an allegory for them, or
titania86 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Zombies have been roaming the Earth for twenty five years now. This is the only world that fifteen year old Temple has ever known and she¿s learned how to survive in it because it¿s either learn fast or die. She travels around looking for safe havens and moves on once those places cease to be safe. On her travels, she encounters a variety of living situations, from groups of people living in skyscrapers to a rich family hiding in their house oblivious of the crumbing world outside. When staying with the people settled in skyscrapers, she is attacked by a man there and is forced to kill him in self defense. His vengeful brother, Moses Todd, vows to kill her and follows her everywhere she goes. As she tries to evade Moses and zombies, can Temple ever find a place she can stay permanently and find peace? The world that Temple lives in is different than most zombie novels. The initial outbreak is long past and our protagonist has never even seen the world as we know it. Most novels of this sort focus on the start of the zombie apocalypse and The only other book I can think of that is similar is Carrie Ryan¿s The Forest of Hands and Teeth, but this book is much more brutal than that. The zombies are a constant threat, but there is also a more unpredictable danger from other people resulting from the breakdown of the government and society in general. In addition, the novel takes place primarily in the south, giving it a distinctive flavor.The writing in the novel is spot on. It¿s descriptive enough to give great detail to the world contained in the novel, but not so much that it bogs down the pacing. There are no quotation marks to denote conversation in the entire book, but the writing is such that it¿s clear who is talking and it ends up not distracting from the novel at all. It just gives the book a little different feeling to read than most books for me. I read this book so fast and couldn¿t put it down. I was so engaged in the story and the characters that I found myself reading in every moment possible throughout my day. I really like Temple and her blunt honesty. She may be young, but she can certainly take care of herself. She can¿t read because she never had a formal education, but she is one of the smartest protagonists I¿ve ever read. In her short life, she has seen a ridiculous amount of violence and it takes a strong person to not just break. Although Temple is tough, her humanity remains intact, as shown with her tolerance and treatment of Maury, a mentally disabled man she meets and takes care of. Her character has many dimensions that are revealed throughout her travels in the novel. The Reapers Are the Angels is now one of my favorite zombie novels. I like and dislike the ending at the same time. It¿s realistic and fits the tone of the book, but I wish it didn¿t have to happen. I would recommend this to any zombie lover.
kraaivrouw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Without a doubt this is one of the best books I've read all year. It's beautifully written, high readable, has characters that are relatable, and world-building that is believable. Plus it's got zombies. Need I say more?