Monday, January 16, 2012

Review–The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell

Title – The Reapers are the Angels
Author – Alden Bell
Narrated by – Tai Sammons
Length – 7 hours 25 minutes
Publisher – Blackstone Audio
Audio Release date – August 3, 2010

I have read so many glowing reviews of The Reapers are the Angels that I simply had to see what all the fuss was about and even though I was warned ahead of time about the bloody bits, I still wanted to read this. I decided to listen to this on audio and I think the narrator did an amazing job giving voice to the conflicted and unique character that was Temple. I would certainly recommend this audio to anyone who is planning to read this.

Temple was an intriguing character, so full of contrasts, she was kind and considerate but with the capacity to become extremely violent if provoked which made sense considering the dangerous world she grew up in. She was also extremely intelligent, logical, and self-aware but at the same time illiterate and simplistic in many ways. Her character fascinated me and reminded me, in a lot of ways, of Saba from Blood Red Road except Temple was much more complex. I was fascinated with the way she accepted the world for what it was and did her best to work within it instead of fight against what she could not control. I have to say, Temple is one of the most interesting characters I’ve read.

The writing was vividly descriptive and unapologetically raw. It brought to life a bleak and desolate world overrun by the undead who were themselves more pathetic and sad than scary. The pockets of survivors that Temple came upon showed the best and worst of humanity. It was interesting to see the many ways that desperation and hopelessness may cause people to react. There were some people and situations that pushed the boundaries of believability, even for a zombie book but for the most part, I could realistically imagine that this is what the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse would look like.

For some reason, I felt really disconnected from the story. I’m not sure whether it was the third person narration or the philosophical and highly allegorical way this was written, but while I could pick out a hundred beautifully phrased quotes, I was never truly engaged in the story. At times I felt that the writing was almost a bit pretentious and that it tried so hard to be literature as opposed to genre fiction that it overreached and ended up just being absurd. Or it could simply be that I am more interested in being entertained by a story than in trying to ponder life’s mysteries or decipher allegory.

I definitely enjoyed listening to The Reapers are the Angels and, while it wasn’t really my thing, I can certainly see where other people would appreciate the writing style and depth.

Rating 3



SQT said...

I looooved this book. I didn't think the style was pretentious. I just felt that he was going for a Cormac McCarthy vibe.

Donna said...


You could be right. I'm perfectly willing to believe that it's just me and that this style just simply isn't my thing. There are so many people whose opinion I respect, like yourself, that love this book. But like so many times before, I'm also perfectly willing to stand alone with my opinion lol. I think that one of the main problems I had with the writing was all the philosophical conversation between Temple and Moses about why he wanted to kill her and how they are powerless to do anything else. It didn't make much logical sense to me and is one of the reasons I said the writing seemed to be overreaching. I could be wrong though :)

Sam (Realm of Fiction) said...

Brilliantly insightful review! Great job, Donna. :) I have heard of this before, but it has never really appealed to me a great deal. Though I have to say I am slightly more intrigued now because of Temple. I adored Saba's character from Blood Red Road, so I am excited to see what she is like.

I love that you listened to an audio copy! I have never listened to an audio book before but I am willing to give it a try one day. :)

Sam @ Realm of Ficton

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) said...

I didn't really expect you to like this any more than you did, but I'm still happy you found the time to read it. It's certainly not a book one can easily forget.

Your review is amazing, Donna. And you know I agree with you about the audio format.

Wendy Darling said...

Aw, I'm so sorry you didn't end up enjoying this one. I think this sort of novel, the genre that incorporates literary fiction style, can be sort of difficult to adjust to sometimes, and heaven knows Temple is a prickly, defensive creature.

Hope your next zombie read is better!

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