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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting tale of postapocalyptica
What is it with English teachers making the transition to writing tales of horror? It must have something to do with seeing the darker sides of humanity as exhibited daily by children in classrooms across the world. Swelling the ranks of the likes of Justin Cronin (author of The Passage) is American High School English teacher Alden Bell and his debut novel, The Reapers...
Published on 7 Jun. 2012 by John Milton

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Really Disappointing and Unrealistic
Having just read The Passage by Justin Cronin, I was really looking forward to reading this book, given the huge amount of positive reviews it received. However, it was a major disappointment. In fact, so bad I've been inspired to write my first book review in ages...
Firstly, the positives. I thought the writing style, dialogue and characterisation were actually ok,...
Published 22 months ago by S. D. Joyce


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting tale of postapocalyptica, 7 Jun. 2012
By 
John Milton (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Reapers are the Angels (Paperback)
What is it with English teachers making the transition to writing tales of horror? It must have something to do with seeing the darker sides of humanity as exhibited daily by children in classrooms across the world. Swelling the ranks of the likes of Justin Cronin (author of The Passage) is American High School English teacher Alden Bell and his debut novel, The Reapers are the Angels, a horror tale set in a post-apocalyptic America, plagued by zombies and beset on all sides by the more chilling side of human nature.

I think it is clear that this novel is not primarily about the undead menace that lurks around every corner but more about the survivors and how they are coping with the situation, with the primary focal point being that of Temple, a fifteen year old girl born into the torn world that Bell has so ably created.

Stylistically, Bell writes very much like Cormac McCarthy and the imagery is similar to that found in The Road. The tone is dark and bleak; and Bell himself has described The Reapers are the Angels as being more Southern Gothic than a tale of a zombie apocalypse. The zombie plague provides the backdrop to the narrative but it's Temple's flight from her pursuer that drives the story on and for me, evoked memories of Frankenstein and the Doctor's pursuit of his creation.

As I'm sure you can guess from the title, there is much discussion of religion and God throughout the novel and Temple's moral compass is very much tested throughout the book. Temple sees the beauty in much of the world that remains and believes this is all a part of God's plan and her background of having never known a world without "meatskins" (zombies) gives her an interesting perspective and makes her quite a compelling protagonist; her attitudes towards society and other humans gives the novel further depth.

In short, The Reapers are the Angels is a real surprise. Bell manages to pack an awful lot into just under 300 pages and succeeds where so many horror stories fail and has created a compelling character-driven horror tale.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read, 4 July 2011
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The Reapers are the Angels is the story of a fifteen year old girl wandering through an abused world, meeting friends, picking up strays and being chased by an enemy.

I think the word `zombie' is mentioned once and there seems to be a calmness and acceptance of these creatures (meatskins). Driving through the landscape with Temple I almost felt obliged to tip my hat and nod a greeting to the wandering dead, they seemed less of a threat than some of the unrelated kin she met.

There is no constant undead carnage however when the violence does erupt it is brutal and direct and not always absorbed by the meatskins. Temple's hostility is final and precise.

She is unable to read or write but is world-wise and intelligent. The dialogue from Temple is written with an accent, it's funny, honest and sometimes insulting. You forget she is only fifteen. Her mouth is almost as deadly as the Ghurkha knife she carries.

Underneath her tough exterior she is lonely, guilt ridden and friendly. I felt she needed her isolation for fear of `putting a killin' on someone either by her hand or another.

Then there is Moses Todd.

Alden Bell has written a very interesting and absorbing story.

I feel the story has scope for a prequel and a sequel.

Excellent read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A post-apocalyptic noir thriller with a memorable hero, 26 Aug. 2012
By 
Ashok Banker "www.ashokbanker.com" (Mumbai, India) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Reapers are the Angels (Paperback)
I was skeptical about the rave reviews I read. The title didn't help. But boy, am I glad I began reading the book itself. Because this is a cut above all other YA fantasy out there. It's beautifully written with lyrical phrasing and poetic turns on almost every page. It's tough to the point of noir. Action-packed. Fast-paced. Not afraid to get bloody, dirty or brutal when the story demands. But most of all, Temple is a true hero to follow. One of the many rave reviews I read compared this book and its protagonist to Justin Cronin's The Passage. That's true, but The Reapers is a much leaner book, an epic post-apocalyptic chase thriller stripped down to the bone. And Temple dominates the whole books. I'd have bought every single book in the series if this were a series. But sadly, there seems to be no sequel in sight even several years after its publication and the author doesn't seem to be very prolific. Oh well. Even if Alden Bell's reputation were to rest solely on this one book (not counting the previous book he'd published which wasn't a YA fantasy) that rep would still be well-deserved. The Reapers Are the Angels is everything it's cracked up to be and then some. One of the best YA thrillers I've ever come across and a terrific novel in any genre.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sad and haunting, 12 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: The Reapers are the Angels (Paperback)
I found this book really engaging from the start and read it in one day.I just had to see what happenend to the lovely temple and if she returned Maury to his home safely.So i was surprised at the ending and shocked too. This book once finished still leaves you thinking about it for many days afterwards, and yes it did make me cry in the end.Don't think the people who gave this a bad review were even reading the same book. would highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tragic zombie apocalypse novel, 27 Aug. 2011
By 
AR (UK) - See all my reviews
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In a post apocalyptic world where zombies, or meatskins, roam the streets, fifteen-year-old Temple travels around America trying to stay alive. When she is taken in by a community of survivors, it quickly ends in tragedy and she is forced to flee across the country with the vengeful Moses Todd on her tail.

I'm not usually one for horror stories, especially anything about zombies, but this novel is surprisingly moving. Temple has a sad past and has had to do some horrible things to survive, which have left her with a lot of guilt and believing she is an evil person. She is essentially alone, despite all the people she meets, and this gives the book an air of loneliness and tragedy.

There are some pretty awful moments in the story, and lots of gore, which are unpleasant if you're squeamish like me, but nothing to put you off reading the book.

Temple has a unique voice, as she has grown up in a broken world and has never been educated. However, she is a smart and capable girl and makes a great character.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting and epic story, 11 Aug. 2010
Zombies, much like vampires in recent years, have seen a resurgence in TV, film, novels and comics. Therefore finding something new and interesting can seem like an impossible task, but Alden Bell has accomplished it with style. The story takes place after a zombie apocalypse, and the closest story it resembles to me is The Walking Dead, a long running comic series from Image, which is currently being made into a TV series by Frank Darabont. Unlike The Walking Dead, the world has been like this for 25 years and the main character, Temple, is a teenager, so this is all she has ever known, which makes for an interesting and unique perspective. Enough time has also passed that humanity has clawed back small portions of the land, barricaded sections of cities and small communities, but Temple is a traveller. When she was younger she tried the sedentary life, with something resembling a normal life, but the inevitable happened and staying on the move seems safer. She's spent so long living with a shadow at her back that it has irreversibly changed her into an older, more brutal version of the girl she might have been if she had been born many years before the fall. The most poignant example of this divergence comes when she meets someone her own age who has grown up in a fenced community and the differences between them are shocking, touching and very telling.

The story follows Temple's journey across this rugged new version of America, where the wolves lurking at your eye corners are now shambling zombies or meatskins as Bell names them. Creatures driven by primal urges and instinct, to be dealt with if required but also pitied because of what they have become and who they used to be. In many ways the story is not about zombies at all, but humanity, how it adapts and copes with adversity and how, even in an utterly ruined world, the greatest threat to an individual comes from their fellow man.

The Reapers are the Angels has strong echoes of I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, in the haunting beauty of the story and the horrific turn of events that come out of the blue. Temple, like Neville, is driven by demons in her past which are gradually revealed as the story progresses. These terrifying and crippling memories are another spur that keep her on the move, forever in search of something intangible, a refuge from the madness and even from herself. They eat away at her and she believes she doesn't deserve a comfortable life and that she will never be forgiven by God for what she's done. When the story begins she is at peace, living a very simple and isolated life, but she cannot hide from the world forever, or from herself, and unfortunately the world catches up and she is forced to move on.

Temple does whatever she has to in order to survive; scavenging food, weapons, cars and gas to stay on the move, killing meatskins and finding safe places to sleep at night to avoid being bitten and turned. This is a hard life that would take its toll on anyone and on a young girl surviving by herself it has many effects that most people can't see and don't understand.

The main relationship in the story is a complex one between Temple and a man named Moses Todd, who is in fact her worst enemy. Both of them live by a code, a set of rules in a world without laws, and when Temple breaks one of Moses rules, he becomes her implacable nemesis. At the same time he is not driven by anger, because he understands why she committed this crime, as he sees it, but if he lets it slide, if he ignores it then he might as well not bother with any rules and live like a savage. There has to be a line somewhere and she accepts it and doesn't hate Moses either. So he swears to pursue her to the ends of the earth and kill her for what she has done and that decision makes sense to both of them. Moses is also the only person who understands Temple because he is a survivor like her, one who has spent more time on the road that sat still in one of the new communities. It is a fascinating and very unusual relationship, but one that somehow makes sense in a world gone mad. In different circumstances they could be friends or allies, but there's no going back and no pretending in this world. They accept the truth and the world as they find it now and get on with it.

For all the walking dead, the murder, destruction and desolation, there is beauty in this shattered world. Real joy and brief moments of peace for Temple come in finding something amazing amidst the horror, which to her, means that God is still there watching over everyone. He shows wonderful things to those who keep looking and keep believing, but it also means he is still judging everyone by their actions, which is the splinter in her mind that can never be removed.

Another fascinating element in the story is what has managed to survive the fall and the passage of twenty five years. Music, literature, technology, art, history, much of it is now obsolete or irrelevant to most people. Entertainment still exists in the communities and even on the road, but it too has morphed into something else. With no TV or radio broadcasts Temple makes her own music, half remembered tunes passed down orally or mangled versions of real songs that have changed over the years as if passed through a meat grinder.

The style of the text is simple, clean and unpretentious and the story moves along at a solid pace. There are some quiet moments of contemplation, lulls amidst the storm in a chaotic world, but I was always conscious of the shadow at Temple's back and had the feeling it couldn't last very long.

The Reapers are the Angels is a haunting, beautiful and engaging story full of moments of horror, where very few of these come at the hands of zombies. It is also a very powerful story about humanity and one that I can see myself reading again. Like I Am Legend I think it will become a classic of the genre and one against which others will be measured.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It could have been great, 21 Sept. 2011
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This review is from: The Reapers are the Angels (Paperback)
I have to say that starting off the book I wasn't enamoured, but going on I started to like Temple and the post apocalyptic world, I like that it's written from the POV of a barely literate teen born an orphan into a zombie infested world, I like that it concentrates more on human nature than it does on the Zombie threat, I liked the rednecks (although don't dwell on that particular piece of science too long) but...
it was just too short, the characters are well written but not rounded enough, they need fleshing out and the story was skimped on, the whole book could have been another 600 pages long and I would have devoured it, we could have learnt more about the rest of the world, we could have gone to Niagra, what happened to the planes? it just feels like the author ran out of ideas and gave up which is a damn shame.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Really Disappointing and Unrealistic, 12 Mar. 2013
By 
S. D. Joyce - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Reapers are the Angels (Paperback)
Having just read The Passage by Justin Cronin, I was really looking forward to reading this book, given the huge amount of positive reviews it received. However, it was a major disappointment. In fact, so bad I've been inspired to write my first book review in ages...
Firstly, the positives. I thought the writing style, dialogue and characterisation were actually ok, not great but ok. But what lets this book down massively (and a few other reviewers picked up on this) was that the world within which the story is set is both completely unrealistic and annoyingly inconsistent. So it is set 15 years (I think) after the great zombie apocalypse, but somehow there is still electricity, running water, working cars, plenty of fuel and helpful packets of Pringles lying around just wating to be eaten. How does that work then? I'm not some kind of nerd that looks for such inconsistencies in books (ok, maybe I am just a little bit), but this really made the book almost impossible to take seriously. However, what was even worse was the totally unthreating nature of the zombies (meatskins), as if they were just a bit of an afterthought by the author. The main character could wander around with almost impunity, completely unthreated by the slow, shambling zombies. If the zombie are this slow and stupid, how did they ever bring about the end of civilisation as we know it?
I don't suppose anyone will ever read this review, but if you do, do yourself a favour and give this book a wide berth and read The Passage instead.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine debut, 20 Sept. 2011
By 
Robert Frampton "Rob Frampton" (Dartford, UK) - See all my reviews
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Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Amongst the plethora of vampire and zombie re-imaginings that has infested the publishing world over the last few years, Justin Cronin's 'The Passage' stands as a high-water mark. But now it has a serious rival in the shape of 'The Reapers are the Angels'.
A poetic 'alternative' to Cronin's epic, it centres on the journey of one young woman, Temple, in her journey through a strangely altered, apocalyptic landscape, it's less about the zombie plague than about how 'normal' people adapt, or, more pointedly, fail to adapt, to this new world. Temple's survival strategy of coldness and detachment is mitigated by her attempt to do one good thing in this new world, but it turns out that being a good person isn't easy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Articulate, Sophisticated, Poignant, Sad, Wonderful and Haunting, 24 Jun. 2014
By 
Molly Looby - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Reapers are the Angels (Paperback)
A Spoiler Free Bit About The Book ( A Little Bit of Blurb)

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

My Review

This book is covered in amazing reviews on the inside pages and I read every single one of them. Instead of making me want to pick the book up and see what all the fuss was about, it actually made me nervous about reading it because I couldn't imagine it could ever live up to its reviews.

I was wrong. This book was beautiful, articulate, sophisticated, poignant, sad, wonderful and haunting.

I was pulled in by the first paragraph, it was excellent. So excellent I want to share it.

"God is a slick god. Temple knows. She knows because of all the crackerjack miracles still to be seen on this ruined globe."

The style was very heavy, long sentences and long words flowing together so beautifully it was hard to get my head round it. I think this was because the last book I read was written so simply that it made it very difficult for me to get into. But once I was in, I was completely immersed.

The Reapers are the Angels is written in the third person, which allows the beautiful articulate flow of narrative while Temple, our protagonist can't read or write and often speaks very poorly. This contrasted in the most gorgeous way to the narrative and made it even more beautiful and sophisticated. The words flowed together as though taking a single one out would disrupt the rhythm. As I read, I was enchanted by it.

The description was something to behold. Every notion made me think. Through Temple, The Reapers are the Angels muses about life, death, good and evil without the reader even noticing.

I adored Temple as the protagonist because she was strong, independent and unashamed. She was so convinced of her own evil that her only agenda at the start of the novel is to survive. As the novel continues and she meets different people, the struggle within her is obvious as she wants to undo all the wrongs in her past although she doesn't believe that anything can reverse her evil. When the truth about her past it fed to us, little bit by little bit, we feel for her as we wouldn't have done if given the truth at the beginning of the novel.

The ending was haunting and I still can't stop thinking about it days later. It was just incredible. And I can't believe it, but it lived up to its reviews.

Evaluation

Plot - 9/10 - post-apocalyptic journey, gotta love 'em

Way Plot Was Pursued - 9/10 - standard

Characters - 8/10 - Temple I adored and a few others but I felt I wanted a little more time with each character

Style - 10/10 - I can't praise the beauty of this novel enough

Pace - 9/10 - great, but I felt it started a little slow

Would I recommend it? Yes, I have nothing bad to say about this novel

Would I look up the author? Yes, I need to see what else Alden Bell's written for sure!

The Reapers are the Angels was crafted and shaped like the most delicate piece of jewellery or the most beautiful song.
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