I listened to this as part of the Spooky Season Reads event for the Coffee and a Good Book Facebook Group. I found the Audiobook on Scribd.
Several people in the group abandoned the book after a few pages due to the author’s dense writing style. This is one place where an audiobook can help; it can move you on through the difficult parts so you don’t get too bogged down.
That said, though, the author does have a pretty dense writing style. Zone One is pretty much a zombie book, but at least half of it must be taken up with philosophical observations of life in twenty-first century America. The main character, who we know only by the nickname his fellow soldiers in the effort to clean up after the zombie plague and re-establish civilization have given him – Mark Spitz - has proclaimed himself a mediocre citizen, and has decided he this is the perfect persona for the times. He has derogatory thoughts about most of the brain-dead individuals he is called on to eliminate in the course of his present job. Maybe this is the only way he can keep himself a reasonable facsimile of sane.
The team he is assigned to is part of a larger group whose mission is to rid the southern tip (I think) of Manhattan of the remaining victims of the zombie plague and make it once again fit for habitation by those still-living people who are left in the world. This is the Zone One of the title. The action in the book’s present time occurs over the space of only three days, but the flood of flashback memories going back to the beginning of the plague (a time referred to as ‘last night’) and extending over the intervening five years, comes so thick and fast that it is often difficult to keep up with what is present and what is past.
Little is explained about the actual plague, or about how it is that the myriad undead manage to keep wandering about without eating anything, except of course to spread the plague (which is what the virus programs them to do – a trait they share with the ‘hungries’ of The Girl with All the Gifts). But these un-people have mostly been this way for about five years and for much of that time they haven’t had even any other people to eat. Yet they don’t give up walking and attacking until their heads are shot off. The narrator seems to have the impression that the plague was caused primarily by all the things that are wrong with modern society.
For most of the length of this book, it seems more hopeful than the other spooky reads of the season. A government of sorts has been re-established. There are safe camps, and progress is being made in clearing out the infected. However, in the end, it doesn’t appear to end well.
Cover image from Goodreads.
Title: Zone One
Author: Colson Whitehead
Narrator: Beresford Bennett
Publisher: Random House Audio
Genre: Science Fiction/Horror