Wow. Again, Whitehead writes an amazingly intelligent, complex, and relevant novel and entertains the hell out of me during the process. Zombies!
His seamless prose sheds light on a world going through a "Reboot," which is eerily similar to Reconstruction, save for there is no one to integrate back into society. Again, humanity picks itself up, dusts itself off, and tries to make things right again, only to find that trying to reconstruct the life before will never work. Things change. Things always change. Keep up, don't get stuck in the past. Move on. Build.
I'm shaken after reading the last twenty pages because it's what every zombie apocalypse survivor fears: the barricades simply will not hold. Not forever, anyway. As Mark Spitz recounted all the events he'd gone through, from Last Night to last night, I felt a connection with him; I loved his character and also that of his teammates in Omega. He held back bonding with others for this nagging fear that he couldn't yet exhale, only to discover that he was right. Oh, what PASD (post-apocalyptic stress disorder) does to a person. I think I'll be suffering from PZOSD.
The final scene, where he decides to jump in the water, was both liberating and tearful; I don't know if he'll make it. I certainly hope he does and I won't be giving up on him. This character was so real to me!
This writer is brilliant! Why isn't this guy being handed prizes left and right? Undoubtedly, this man is literature's best kept secret. Do yourself a favor and discover this guy for yourself.
As a zombie story, as a novel, as a work of literature, as a piece speaking to humanity, this is nothing short of stunning and a mature, complex allegory. Oh, how I loved this book.
This book pissed me off in a lot of ways. Not the least of which is an author writing a zombie novel as capital "L" Literature. An (capital "a") Author, slumming and writing a 'genre' novel DOES NOT WORK if you don't RESPECT THE GENRE. And DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
I picked this up because I heard about it via an NPR interview with the author. Mr. Whitehead said he basically wrote it because he was annoyed with his neighbors and friends in NYC. He had visions of them dead and not moving.
... There are some nice things I will say about his mythology and vernacular creation, but I need to say the main reason this book doesn't work is because the protagonist is a "B" student. A solid "B" - good enough to get into law school, but not smart enough to have a literary internal monologue and DEEP THOUGHT like it's presented. He's no Holden Caulfield, and this is no "The Things They Carried," and certainly not "Farewell to Arms" for zombies. Frankly, the protagonist is a slacker. The only thing that's realistic about these inner stories is how they meander down a rabbit hole for what seems like days on end, utterly lose their point, and then, what should be three chapters later, emerge with an answer to the simple question from his squadmates. (That's another big complaint of this book, there are no chapter markings - just 3 long sections that do not have very coherent stopping points. That's just arrogance on the writer's part. ) The only possible explanation is that this is an outgrowth of the protagonist's PASD (Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder - that he can't stay focused long enough to explain himself and his actions in less than 10,000 words.)
Also, while I like the vernacular the author invents "Skels" "pheenie" - he takes way too long to explain their origin (and I should not have to wait to page 182 to find out why "Mark Spitz" is his nickname - or wait another hundred pages to find out what that means. )
About the only thing the author gets right is how frakked the government response would be, and the war "sponsors."
The whole book is just a nauseatingly smug portrayal of the author as a young man in NYC, an overly large vocabulary used to vomit all over everything he hates and loves about Manhattan - dressed up in cheap Walmart Halloween zombie make-up (you know, the instant all-inclusive kits that bleed off in less than an hour.) There's some really pretty photographic affects, but you feel utterly jilted to have wasted your money and time on this crap.)
You want some good zombie stuff? Read the "Day By Day Armageddon" series, or "World War Z," or go pick up the "Walking Dead" graphic novels. Get the "Living Dead" anthology edited by John Joseph Adams. Just avoid this.