Zone One: A Novel Hardcover – Oct 18 2011
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.
PRAISE FOR ZONE ONE:
"THE BEST BOOK OF THE FALL...provides the chilling, fleshy pleasures of zombies who lurch, pursue, hunger...while brilliantly reformulating an old-hat genre."
“If you’re going to break down and read a zombie novel, make it this one.”
--The Wall Street Journal
“[Whitehead] takes the genre of horror fiction, mines both its sense of humor and self-seriousness, and emerges with a brilliant allegory of New York living.”
-- New York Observer
"A zombie story with brains...Readers who wouldn't ordinarily creep into a novel festooned with putrid flesh might be lured by this certifiably hip writer who can spine gore into macabre poetry...Everything comes to life in this perfectly paced, horrific, 40-page finale shot through with grim comedy and desolate wisdom about the modern age in all its poisonous, contaminating rage. It's a remarkable episode, but elevated by the power of Whitehead's prose to the level of those other ash-covered nightmares imagined by T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Cormac MacCarthy.
--Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“Whitehead writes with a sharp, descriptive power, reeling off one pithy observation after the next in a way that invests this post-apocalyptic world with a surprisingly tactile presence.”
--The Associated Press
“Whitehead, himself a New Yorker, writes about Spitz’s travails in the brooding, vertical metropolis with a dark poetry, which makes this harrowing tale not just a juicy experiment in genre fiction but a brilliantly disguised meditation on a “flatlined culture” in need of its own rejuvenating psychic jolt.”
--The Seattle Times
"Highbrow novelist Colson Whitehead plunges into the unstoppable zombie genre in this subtle meditation on loss and love in a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, which has become the city that never dies."
"For-real literary -- gory, lyrical, human, precise."
"A satirist so playful that you often don't even feel his scalpel, Whitehead toys with the shards of contemporary culture with an infectious glee. Here he upends the tropes of the zombie story in the canyons of lower Manhattan. Horror has rarely been so unsettling, and never so grimly funny."
--The Daily Beast
"Whitehead's uncommonly assured style and his observational gifts make the book a pleasure to read."
"Whitehead writes with economy, texture and punch. He has a talent for sardonic aphorism and an ear for phonetic intrigue...[Zone One] is a cool, thoughtful and, for all its ludic violence, strangely tender novel, a celebration of modernity and a pre-emptive wake for its demise."
--Glen Duncan, for The New York Times Book Review
“As much as Whitehead was inspired by and occasionally references the ‘70s disaster movies that share DNA with Zone One, it’s his remarkable turns of phrase that lift the story above the gory rublle of a midday matinee. Whether charged with bleak sadness or bone-dry humor, sentences worth savoring pile up faster than the body count.”
--Los Angeles Times
“Zone One takes in all the classic tropes of the zombie novel and blends them to create a novel both melancholy and feverishly exciting, one that is as much about our past and our present as any possible future.”
“Whitehead writes in cinematic images, with a lucid command of language, a knack for comic invention and a blithe freedom.”
--The Kansas City Star
“Zone One is an off-kilter love letter to a post-apocalypse Manhattan. It’s loaded with gallows survivor humor and absolutely stunning descriptions.”
“Cinematic in scope and nimble in its use of hard-core gore, [Zone One] is an absorbing read, crammed with thoughtful snapshots of the world the survivors have left behind…a sharp commentary on the rat race of contemporary life.”
"Colson Whitehead's ZONE ONE isn't your typical zombie novel; it trades fright-night fodder for empathy and chilling realism...yielding a haunting portrait of a lonely, desolate, and uncertain city."
“A great read that’s snarky, scary, and profound.”--Parade
"Zone One is a smart, strange, engrossing novel about the end of metaphors and the way that, as Mark Spitz knows all to well, no barrier can hold forever against the armies of death."
“The kind of smart, funny, pop culture-filled tale that would make George Romero proud…[Whitehead] succeeds brilliantly with a fresh take on survival, grief, 9/11, AIDS, global warming, nuclear holocaust, Katrina, Abu Ghraib, Pol Pot’s Year Zero, Missouri tornadoes, and the many other disasters both natural and not that keep a stranglehold on our fears.”
-- Publishers Weekly, starred review
"This diabolically smart, covertly sensitive, ruminative, and witty zombie nightmare prods us to think about how we dehumanize others, how society tramples and consumes individuals, how flimsy our notions of law and order are, and how easily deluded and profoundly vulnerable humankind is. A deft, wily, and unnerving blend of pulse-elevating action and sniper-precise satire."
--Booklist, starred review
"[Whitehead] sinks his teeth into a popular format and emerges with a literary feast, producing his most compulsively readable work to date...Whitehead transforms the zombie novel into an allegory of contemporary Manhattan (and, by extension, America)."
--Kirkus, starred review
"[Zone One] achieves a kind of miracle of tone. A fragile hope permeates these pages, one so painful and tender, it's heartbreaking...Colson Whitehead is in fresh, appealing and often very fine voice."
"The stylistic exuberance on display would be overwhelming if it weren't so well controlled, shifting weightlessly from M*A*S*H-style battle narrative to a melancholic Blade Runner-like vision of Urban devastation...The smallest of details is marked by originality of language."
--The New Statesman
"Zone One is not the work of a serious novelist slumming it with some genre-novel cash-in, but rather a lovely piece of writing...Whitehead picks at our nervousness about order's thin grip, suggesting just how flimsy the societal walls are that make possible our hopes and dreams and overly complicated coffee orders. Pretty scary."
“Colson Whitehead is quickly becoming one of the country’s most exciting young writers.”
--Rachel Syme for Monkey See, NPR.org
PRAISE FOR COLSON WHITEHEAD:
“[Whitehead’s] writing does what writing should do; it refreshes our sense of the world.”
– John Updike, The New Yorker
“Colson Whitehead…[is] a large and vibrant talent…This is the voice of a writer who is watching America carefully.”
–The New York Observer
“Whitehead is making a strong case for a new name of his own: that of the best of the new generation of American novelists.”
“No novelist writing today is more engaging and entertaining when it comes to questions of race, class, and commercial culture than Colson Whitehead.”
“Whitehead has a David Foster Wallace-esque knack for punctuating meticulously figurative constructions with deadpan slacker wit….You can’t help but admire Whitehead’s writerly gifts.”
–The Los Angeles Times
“Whitehead can write sentences like nobody’s business.”
“Whitehead’s engaged eyes and precise prose show us the small details we overlook and the large ones we fail to absorb.”
—The Miami Herald
“[Whitehead] writes wonderfully, commanding a lush, poetic, mellifluous prose instrument.”
“Whitehead [is] one of the city’s and country’s finest young writers.”
“Ebullient, supremely confident.”
–San Diego Union Tribune
“A scientist of metropolitan encounters, he surveys places where the masses collide, knitting together hundreds of observations and calculations that usually remain unspoken.”
—The Village Voice
About the Author
COLSON WHITEHEAD is the author of the national best seller Sag Harbor and the novels The Intui tionist, John Henry Days, and Apex Hides the Hurt, as well as The Colossus of New York, a collection of essays. A recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and a MacArthur Fellowship, he lives in New York City.See all Product Description
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
The tale is centred during reconstruction efforts in Manhattan when the threat is still real but there is an organized effort to return to the way things used to be. It employs flashbacks of Spitz's previous life, his and other survivor's "Last Night" stories, and vignettes of survival. But what Whitehead does extremely well is he challenges the boring repetition of conventional zombie fiction often framed in what he calls "that interregnum cliche". At various points throughout the book he destroys the recurring myths that have been advanced in so many of these books, such as:
- "The new micro-societies inevitably imploded, on the island getaways, in reclaimed prisons, at the mountain top ski lodge accessible only by sabotaged funicular, in the underground survivalist hideouts finally summoned to utility.Read more ›
I did enjoy the ties made to modern consumerism and trends in North America throughout the book, a very good reflection of soicety.
I would recommend the book, though it would not be number one on my list.
Anyone who writes a novel of dystopian zombie science fiction will inevitably find their work compared with Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend", widely acclaimed as one of the finest vampire/zombie genre fiction novels ever published, perhaps second only to Bram Stoker's "Dracula".Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
That said, Whitehead is this book's worst enemy. He takes every opportunity to show off his inventiveness, preen his considerable literary plumage and display his intimate acquaintance with the thesaurus. In playing with the narrative thread and timeline, sometimes just because he can, he adds unnecessary stress to what is not a terribly sturdy plot in the first place. Perhaps as he matures, he will write to make the story the thing instead of himself. If this book had 35% less exhibitionism and 30% more plot, it could have been a real showpiece. Instead, it is a pleasant, if sometimes tedious diversion written by an obviously talented, but all-too-self-indulgent author.
It seems that the reviews for this book are distinctly divided. Fans of the zombie/apocalypse genre have offered some pretty scathing reviews and low ratings. Fans of "literary fiction" are giving it a bit more credit. I'm generally more aligned with the literary fiction readers, but I think the zombie fans have some legitimate criticisms.
The main criticism against this book seems to be the lack of plot, and I can't disagree. A lot of the book is mildly amusing; it's just not very compelling. Even the (rare) engaging passages are frequently interrupted by reflections about the past, which significantly slow the pace. It took me about three time as long as it should have to finish the book, because I literally fell asleep within a few pages nearly every time I picked it up.
Although there's little plot, the book's main character is somewhat interesting. He's survived a long time since the "Last Night." His survival, though, is not due to his courage, strength, or cleverness. He's completely average with the exception of his cockroach-like survival instinct. Although readers are unlikely to fall in love with Mark Spitz, he provides an amusing lens for this story.
1. It feels like he challenged himself to use every big word in the English language.....in every chapter. I don't mind big words and I fully understand them. However, I don't need an author to use a minimum of 1 in every sentence. We know you are smart. You don't have to prove it in ever other word.
2. You don't have to describe everything he sees, smells, touches, or imagines. I was one description away from freaking out and that was on page 4.
3. This is a Zombie book in the way Harry Potter is a movie about kids at school. Yea, it is in there, but it is an afterthought to the real purpose of the book......which seems to be to find out how many words he can use to actually say nothing. Example?
"When they stepped into the lawyers' suite they stumbled into a sophisticated grotto, as if the floor has been dealt into the building from some more upscale deck. In the waiting room, their helmet lights roved over the perplexing gemoetric forms in the carpet that they sullied with their combat boots, the broad panels of dark zebra wood covering the walls with elegant surety, and the low, sleek furniture that promised bruises yet, when tested, compressed one's body according to newly discovered princliples of somatic harmony."
Um.............What? You are talking about looking for zombies in a building and this is your description? If "Somatic harmony" is an exciting phrase for your zombie movies, by all means, grap this book because I don't remember hearing that phrase in The Walking Dead!
Don't pick this up expecting a literary "take" on the zombie action thriller, a few scenes aside, there isn't much action. The bulk of the book takes place inside the protagonist's head, as he trudges around a mostly-safe part of Manhattan as part of a three-person militia unit "sweeping" the blocks for stray zombies the Marines missed when they secured this part of the island. As they clear Manhattan for the impending resettlement, he mentally documents the pre-"Last Night" world and its ridiculous concerns, ranging from consumer items to real estate to sitcoms, and so on. There are plenty of flashbacks to his year on the run in the wilderness, and we get plenty of stories from other characters about where they were when it all came crashing down. These provide the necessary "what would I do" moments which are integral to the zombie genre (and many other horror genres for that matter), but make no mistake, this book is only headed to one place. There's only three ways a zombie story can end, good, bad, or setup for the sequel, and I'm not spoiling anything by telling you that Whitehead is not interested in building any suspense, because every so often he'll slip in a direct statement that tells you it's not going to end well. The book is told from the perspective of a Sunday, and the "action" mainly unfolds over the previous two days, with lots of flashbacks to earlier times. I suppose this flashback within a flashback chronology might be confusing to some people, but I never had a problem with it.
It's nothing new to use genre forms to tell allegorical tales, and American materialism has been skewered by the zombie-maestro himself, George Romero, in Dawn of the Dead. But the sheer skill at work here makes this well worth reading, whether you're a zombie enthusiast, a fan of Whitehead's, or just a lover of interesting fiction.
He also apparently suffers from a complete lack of knowledge of humanity. Perhaps this is an unfortunate philosophical commitment on Whitehead's part. His characters are fixed, static, cesspools--they do not change; they do not learn; they do not grow. Perhaps he thinks this is the way in which all people really operate. If so, I feel badly for him.
Worse yet--a post-apocalyptic tale involving zombies (and involving even zombies that do not move or threaten harm) offers a wide range of philosophical and ethical issues with which to grapple. Somehow, the author misses most of these and chooses to focus on one issue--that the protagonist is mediocre and therefore somehow apt for the situation at hand. It's infuriating and ultimately demoralizing. John Gardner put it best: "Fiddling with the hairs on an elephant's nose is indecent when the elephant happens to be standing on the baby."
I really wanted to like Zone One. I forced myself through to the end in the hopes that at some point it would move beyond mere character sketch and into the realm of story. It never did. This likely results from what I just mentioned--his characters never learn, change, or grow. If they did, this sketch would move towards story.
In Zone One, Whitehead demonstrated that he can obviously write, but he cannot tell a story.