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Zone One: A Novel by Colson Whitehead

Zone One: A Novel (2011)

by Colson Whitehead

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,271899,334 (3.34)167
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» See also 167 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
This book has one of those rare publishers synopses that actually gives a great description of the book - until it succumbs to a last paragraph of hyperbole. While I wouldn't say it "...deconstructs the zombie myth for the twenty-first century" (I don't know what that would look like, but I don't think it looks like this book) it is definitely a fresh take, wry and witty with some genuinely marvelous sentences. If you're looking for a dense, action-filled apocalyptic experience like Cronin's Passage trilogy this isn't the book. It's tone reminds me more of Billy Lynn's Long Half Time Walk, even though the stories are entirely different. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
This book written by the author of [book:The Underground Railroad|30555488] is a story of post apocalyptic world after a pandemic where a virus turns the infected into flesh eating zombies. The time has progressed through the interregnum and the government is reorganizing with a plan to rebuild. Our protagonist, known as Mark Spitz is part of the sweeper crew cleaning up Manhattan for re-population. He describes himself as a person who has always been mediocre. This is a bleak, gray, cold story. It did not pull me in. It felt like work to read it. The author is a word smith and can put together sentences that are so complex that it becomes work to figure out what is being said. The night of the pandemic origin is called Last Night. The time of no government is called interregnum. The return of government is marked by "rules, spins to make the masses happy, sponsors, and paperwork, of course". Mark Spitz in his mediocrity, has survived but all the survivors are suffering with PASD (post apocalyptic Stress Disorder) in one variation or another. ( )
  Kristelh | Dec 19, 2018 |
Think Catch 22, in New York City, with zombies. Like all the best zombie fare, this is less about blood and brains (although there is plenty of that) and more about coming down to the essentials of ourselves, and the crazy strangely optimistic attempt to survive that comes despite despair.

Great book, but I think it got into my head too much, and now I have a touch of PASD (post apocalyptic stress disorder). Nightmares, twitchiness, irritability, and inability to focus. Get out of my head, Whitehead!
( )
  JanetNoRules | Sep 17, 2018 |
Set in the terrifying aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, Whitehead's novel follows Mark Spitz, a member of a team charged with clearing the dead bodies from a small section of New York. Whitehead parcels out background details slowly, so the reader slowly begins to understand what's gone on and just how bad things are. And then ... ( )
  JBD1 | Apr 24, 2018 |
In "Zone One", Colson Whitehead has given us one of the best literary treatments of the Post-Apocalypse ever written, perhaps the finest since Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend". As a zombie novel, it is the best of that sub-genre of horror fiction. Much of its excellence derives from Whitehead's skill as a satirist. He has a deft touch for turning a phrase and a power of description that elevates "Zone One" into the realm of "serious" works that study and comment upon the American mass psychology.

We never learn the true name of Mark Spitz, the protagonist of the novel. We only discover the source of his nickname, a reference to him supposedly not being a good swimmer, late in the story. We learn enough about him in flashback to know that he has lost everyone he loves in the pandemic that has divided the world into the tormented living and the animate, cannibalistic dead. He refers to the universality of PASD (Post-Apocalypse Stress Disorder) among the living, such that he and every other survivor of the plague is coping, or not, with the lingering effects of shock, intense fear, and crippling levels of grief and guilt.

Mark Spitz is a member of a team that is assigned to search and remove the "stragglers" from a section of Manhattan below Canal Street, Zone One, after the Marines have retaken the southern part of the island in a massive search and destroy campaign against the "skels". Stragglers are apparently passive plague victims, unlike the more numerous and dangerous un-dead who are constantly on the prowl for human flesh. The stragglers, activated by some latent memory in their otherwise plague-befuddled brains, return to the places that appear to have some emotional resonance for them. Once there, they remain frozen in position in their catatonic state. But it is extremely foolish to assume that a straggler is harmless, as a member of Spitz' team learns in a scene of true horror.

The government in "Zone One", unlike Robert Kirkman's libertarian fantasy in "The Walking Dead", does not collapse. It manages to rally and restore a center of order in Buffalo, the new U.S. capital, from which it wages a war to slowly reclaim the nation from the infected hordes. Whitehead gets in some especially funny commentary about military bureaucracy and the neurotic themes of our perpetual War on Terror and our efforts to create friendly regimes in foreign lands where we Americans are not welcome. The government works with the corporate world to create official sponsors for the war effort against the "skels". Mark Spitz and his comrades carry "No-No" cards which specify which branded products they are allowed to loot as they clear their way through Manhattan, and which are off-limits. Spitz and his fellow sweepers share stories of "Last Night" (before all hell broke loose) and their lives before and after that great, terrible, dividing event in time. We are told, repeatedly, that Connecticut is the most loathsome place on Earth, but are given no details as to how it acquires its reputation. That's an example of Whitehead's quirky humor and how he blends it so well with the horror of "Zone One" to suggest that Zombie America is not that different from the violent, fearful and materialistic nation in which we live before the Apocalypse. ( )
  ChuckNorton | Apr 17, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Colson Whiteheadprimary authorall editionscalculated
Corral, RodrigoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koay, Pei LoiDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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He always wanted to live in New York. His Uncle Lloyd lived downtown on Lafayette, and in the long stretches between visits he daydreamed about living in his apartment.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385528078, Hardcover)

Guest Reviewer: Justin Cronin on Zone One by Colson Whitehead

The phrase “the thinking person’s [something]” may be terminally overused, but surely that’s what Colson Whitehead has accomplished in Zone One--a savvy zombie classic, the best addition to the genre since George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.

In a nutshell: Zone One is a story of three days in the life of one Mark Spitz and his squad of three “sweepers” moving through the eponymous Zone One of lower Manhattan, a walled-off enclave scheduled for resettlement in the aftermath of a zombie plague. The great masses of the undead, known as “skels” for their skeleton-like appearance, have been violently dispatched by a Marine detachment. It falls to Spitz and his fellows to take care of the handful that remain, as well as a second-tier of the infected known as “stragglers”: zombies who have bypassed the cannibalistic urges of their more lethal fellows in favor of a hollow-eyed, eerily nostalgic repetition of some mundane act. Surfing a vanished web. Switching the channels of a dead remote. Filling helium balloons in a ransacked party supply store. Running a photocopy machine, presumably for all eternity.

These trapped souls, like much in Whitehead’s novel, evoke a pure pathos. But Whitehead’s tale is as much a chronicle of the living as the dead. Survivorship is his true subject, and with its lower-Manhattan setting, Zone One’s suggestive nod to a post-9/11 New York is no accident. Part of the novel’s power flows from the reader’s uncomfortable sense that Whitehead’s apocalypse, for all its strangeness, also feels strangely familiar.

But what truly sets Zone One apart from the literary and filmic zombie hordes is the sheer quality of the writing. Whitehead’s language zings and soars. The zombie genre is an intrinsically playful blend of horror and slapstick, but Whitehead takes this maxim to vertiginous new heights, producing a shockingly full-throttle immediacy in the process. The distance between the real world of the reader and the imagined world of Whitehead’s skel-infested New York, in all its aching pity and graveyard comedy, collapses to nothing. In these pages, the world of the undead is brought vibrantly to life. Friends, you are there.

Readers of Whitehead’s previous novels may be surprised to find him traveling the halls of zombie horror. They shouldn’t. For a long time Whitehead has strutted his stuff as one of our smartest young writers, and Zone One is every inch the book he was born to write, a pop-culture thriller of the first order. It will make you think. It will make you want to bar the door and weapon up. It will make you miss the obliterated, lovely world for the duration of its reading, and for some time after. It’s that kind of book: a zombie novel with brains.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:53 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In a post-apocalyptic world decimated by zombies, survivor efforts to rebuild are focused on Manhattan, where civilian team member Mark Spitz works to eliminate remaining infected stragglers and remembers his horrifying experiences at the height of the zombie plague.… (more)

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