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The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell

9/10 A haunting and beautifully written vision of fractured humanity.

The Reapers are the Angels is the highly impressive debut novel of high-school English teacher Alden Bell. It is a haunting and beautifully written vision of fractured humanity that may soon be regarded as a classic within its genre.

Older than her years and completely alone, Temple is trying to live one day at a time in a post-apocalyptic world, where the undead roam endlessly, and the remnants of mankind seem, at times, to retain little humanity themselves.

This is the world she was born into. Temple has known nothing else. Her journey takes her to far-flung places, to people struggling to maintain some semblance of civilization - and to those who have created a new world order.

When she comes across the helpless Maury, she attempts to set one thing right. If she can just get him back to his family in Texas then maybe it will bring redemption for some of the terrible things she's done in her past. Because Temple has had to fight to survive, has done things that she's not proud of and, along the road, she's made enemies.

And one vengeful man is determined that, in a world gone mad, killing her is the one thing that makes sense...

It is difficult knowing what to expect from The Reapers are the Angels. The book’s title is vague, the back cover features an extract rather than the customary blurb. For many, reading the first few pages will be a step into the unknown. It is, however, a step that will result in the reader falling instantly under the spell of a very talented author as he weaves a harrowing, yet moving story.

Alden Bell’s characters are vivid and detailed with both major and minor players benefiting from a pleasant and deserved amount of attention. The narrative, as powerful and eloquent as has been seen in this genre for some time, is stark and commanding with never a word wasted. The reader will find themselves completely immersed within the post-apocalyptic world of the author’s creation which is, despite being plagued by the undead, still vibrant and alive with nature and beauty.

"The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of the world."
The Reapers are the Angles: Chapter 11

One of the book’s many strengths is that one never knows, at any time, what to expect.

Alden Bell’s The Reapers are the Angels breathes new life back into the post-apocalyptic zombie novel. An oddly beautiful tale (considering the subject matter), featuring an hypnotic narrative and near perfect ending. Very highly recommended.

If you have read and enjoyed The Reapers are the Angles, these titles have similarities and are also recommended: Swan Song by Robert McCammon, The Stand by Stephen King, The Road by Cormac McCarthy and I am Legend by Robert Matheson.

The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell
Hardcover: 302 pages
Publisher: Tor (3 Sep 2010)

Alden Bell lives in New York with his wife, an Edgar-award-winning novelist. For the past nine years he has taught high school English at an Upper East Side prep school. Since 2002, he has also taught literature and cultural studies courses as an adjunct professor at the New School. He graduated from Berkeley with a degree in English and a minor in creative writing. In 2000, he received his Master’s and Ph.D. in English at New York University, specializing in twentieth-century American and British literature.

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3 positive reader review(s) for The Reapers are the Angels

Our interview with Alden Bell

Alden Bell lives in New York and has, for the past ten years, taught high school English there. He graduated from Berkeley with a degree in English and a minor in creative writing and, in 2000, received his Master’s and [...]

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The Reapers are the Angels reader reviews

from England

Captivating from beginning to end.

from America

It is a beautiful book that tells all the insides and outsides of life and it is in a zombie apocalypse which makes the book even better.

from England

I found this novel thoroughly enjoyable. At first, I was sceptical about the reading, as the narrative is so unique, but after a while, I found myself truly immersed in this beautiful novel. The storyline was truly breathtaking, and it did make me truly consider what would happen to the world if anything like this ever happened. The characters were believable, and Temple seemed so much older than she actually is (which is, of course, how it's supposed to be) - it made one realise that an event like this would truly age people. One criticism I have is the interesting punctuation and grammar. At some points, the sentences were a little disjointed, but it made for a more personal touch to the trauma that the speaker is suffering from. I found the lack of speech marks in my copy (I don't know whether this is universal or not) a little confusing at times, particularly when there were multiple people talking. Other than those small criticisms, I found this novel thoroughly enjoyable and recommend it for anyone who enjoys reading post-apocalyptic fantasy.(Lovely review Zoe. The lack of speech marks threw me at first and I mentioned it to the author. He said it was commonly found in Southern Gothic books. Cormac McCarthy's The Road is written without speech marks - now there's a book I would recommend! Thanks, Lee @ Fantasy Book Review.)

9.3/10 from 4 reviews

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