BookBrowse has a new look! Learn more about the update here.

Reviews of Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Zone One

A Novel

by Colson Whitehead
  • Critics' Opinion:
  • Readers' Opinion:
  •  Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
  • Oct 18, 2011
  • Paperback:
  • Jul 2012
  • Rate this book

  • Buy This Book

About This Book

Book Summary

Both spine chilling and playfully cerebral, Zone One brilliantly subverts the genre's conventions and deconstructs the zombie myth for the twenty-first century.

In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead.

Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuild­ing civilization under orders from the provisional govern­ment based in Buffalo. Their top mission: the resettlement of Manhattan. Armed forces have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street - aka Zone One - but pockets of plague-ridden squatters remain. While the army has eliminated the most dangerous of the infected, teams of civilian volunteers are tasked with clearing out a more innocuous variety - the "malfunctioning" stragglers, who exist in a catatonic state, transfixed by their former lives.

Mark Spitz is a member of one of the civilian teams work­ing in lower Manhattan. Alternating between flashbacks of Spitz's desperate fight for survival during the worst of the outbreak and his present narrative, the novel unfolds over three surreal days, as it depicts the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, and the impossible job of coming to grips with the fallen world.

And then things start to go wrong.

Both spine chilling and playfully cerebral, Zone One bril­liantly subverts the genre's conventions and deconstructs the zombie myth for the twenty-first century.

Excerpt
Zone One

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. When his mother and father dragged him to the city for that season's agreed-upon exhibit or good-for-you Broadway smash, they usually dropped in on Uncle Lloyd for a quick hello. These afternoons were preserved in a series of photographs taken by strangers. His parents were holdouts in an age of digital multiplicity, raking the soil in lonesome areas of resistance: a coffee machine that didn't tell time, dictionaries made out of paper, a camera that only took pictures. The family camera did not transmit their coordinates to an orbiting satellite. It did not allow them to book airfare to beach resorts with close access to rain forests via courtesy shuttle. There was no prospect of video, high-def or otherwise. The camera was so backward that every lurching specimen his father enlisted from the passersby ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Zone One may not be Whitehead's finest novel, but it's a satisfying, riveting read. The beautifully long, descriptive sentences are richly sensuous, and the languid plot is driven by characters rendered life-like through the author's choice of third-person omniscient narration. Those in love with the written word will most appreciate Whitehead's magic. Lovers of zombie genre novels may find it less appealing. It's a story to be savored slowly, melting on the tongue like fine chocolate. While not a masterpiece, Zone One is a distinct cut above the average and an impressively multi-layered novel that is well deserving of praise...continued

Full Review (612 words)

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Lisa Guidarini).

Media Reviews

Esquire
The best book of the fall... a book you want to read rather than one you should read.

GQ
For-real literary - gory, lyrical, human, precise.

New York Observer
[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.

The Daily Beast
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. ...Horror has rarely been so unsettling, and never so grimly funny.

USA Today
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.

Booklist
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.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. [Whitehead] sinks his teeth into a popular format and emerges with a literary feast, producing his most compulsively readable work to date.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The kind of smart, funny, pop culture-filled tale that would make George Romero proud… [Whitehead] succeeds brilliantly with a fresh take.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book



Zombies in Literature

They're the undead dreaded monsters that feast on the brains of the living. But what exactly is the origin of the zombie? No one knows for sure - perhaps it's the Haitian belief that animals can be brought back to life via witchcraft; or maybe it's the jiang shi (reanimated dead body) in Chinese folklore that lives off others' qi or life forces; or what about the evil Dybbuk in Jewish fables that consumes the spirits of lost souls?

The Magic Island Though a definitive mythology of the origin of zombies isn't entirely clear, these ghastly ghouls - in some form or variation - have been a part of the Western literary tradition for centuries. Mary Shelley's 1818 Frankenstein introduced the idea of harvesting body parts of the dead, and in H.P. Lovecraft...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Zone One, try these:

We have 8 read-alikes for Zone One, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by Colson Whitehead
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start
discovering exceptional books!
Find Out More

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Coin
    The Coin
    by Yasmin Zaher
    A popular choice for book jackets in recent years, perhaps especially in the historical fiction ...
  • Book Jacket: The Night of Baba Yaga
    The Night of Baba Yaga
    by Akira Otani, Sam Bett
    When Yoriko Shindo gets into a brawl on a busy street in 1970s Tokyo, she has no idea what the ...
  • Book Jacket: The Anthropologists
    The Anthropologists
    by Aysegül Savas
    A documentary filmmaker, Asya is interested in the "unremarkable grace" of daily life, "the slow and...
  • Book Jacket: Mood Swings
    Mood Swings
    by Frankie Barnet
    This book begins with a bombastic premise. Seemingly fed up with the heating planet, the world's ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
The 1619 Project
by Nikole Hannah-Jones
An impactful expansion of groundbreaking journalism, The 1619 Project offers a revealing vision of America's past and present.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Very Long, Very Strange Life of Isaac Dahl
    by Bart Yates

    A saga spanning 12 significant days across nearly 100 years in the life of a single man.

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L T C O of the B

and be entered to win..

Who Said...

They say that in the end truth will triumph, but it's a lie.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!