Here’s a book that really tests my mettle as a reviewer. The reason being that I really didn’t enjoy it and yet when I try to figure out why I find it extremely difficult to say. Maybe I’ll have worked something out by the end of this post.
Zone One is the story of what happens after a zombie apocalypse. Some months (years?) after the outbreak of a plague that turns its victims into the walking undead we follow Mark Spitz, a member of a ‘sweeper’ team of civilian-turned-military whose job is to root out and destroy the remaining infected from ‘Zone One‘ aka Manhattan which has been largely cleared and walled off in preparation for re-inhabitation. By reclaiming the city it will be a symbolic act of civilization re-asserting itself.
Ostensibly the action takes place over one weekend but as with most novels that use this device it seems, we inevitably get a lot more history in flashback. Everything from his initial experiences of the plague his ‘Last Night‘ story (every survivor has one and the sharing of such has become a kind of ritualistic bonding experience) through his various travels and his ultimately joining the sweeper team in Zone One.
So why didn’t I enjoy it? It’s hard to say. Every possible answer I can think of gives rise to counter-examples. The first third has very little dialogue and is description-heavy. There are multiple flashbacks-within-flashbacks and overlapping time frames. These are things I noticed and didn’t enjoy but also which I know I’ve at least not minded in other books. All I can ultimately say is that it felt like a slog and it was with a sense of relief that I finished it.
This is one case where my score really reflects my own personal reaction. I’m very aware that it’s well written and others might really enjoy it. However since I found it so difficult to get through with little, to me, reward, I can’t give it a higher mark.
5/10 – a slow lumbering trudge through the world of the undead, sadly not in a good way.