Favorite Books of the 2010s: The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell

This is a series of reviews of my favorite books published between 2010 and 2019.


The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell (2010)

It’s hard to believe that someone could come out with a fresh and different take on the zombie apocalypse novel, but Bell has done it here. He seamlessly combines Southern gothic tropes with zombie tropes to tell a story that seems utterly unique. But he doesn’t lose sight of his characters, and his protagonist–a fifteen-year-old girl named Temple wandering the abandoned South–is someone we come to know and care deeply for. Her voice is distinctly her own, and her observations of the world she finds herself in, the only world she has ever known, are both poetic and insightful. This book started off slow for me but built and built until I could not let it go.

This was also a refreshingly different take on the post-apocalyptic genre. Instead of portraying people in a post-apocalyptic situation as reverting immediately to savagery and shedding all vestiges of civilization, which is the norm, this book portrays them as just people, in all their complexity. The survivors maintain their humanity, for the most part, which seems to me much more believable. Even the villain is not purely villainous.

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