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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
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...
Published on 4 July 2011 by Kevin O'Brien

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10 of 11 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 13 months ago by S. D. Joyce


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine debut, 20 Sep 2011
By 
Robert Frampton "Rob Frampton" (Dartford, UK) - See all my reviews
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tragic zombie apocalypse novel, 27 Aug 2011
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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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A truly sad tale, 12 Mar 2011
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T. J. Brown (u.k.) - See all my reviews
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If you like your stories full of soul,character and heart wrenching inevitability then this is definitely for you. There are inconsistencies in the availability of resources after nearly two decades of Zombie dominance, ie edible snacks still found in abandoned gas stations and cars still able to be hot wired and driven away despite the fact that the brakes would more than probably be seized up and the batteries dead but what the heck. Some how once you got over your petty gripes the fullness of the characters really grabbed you by the throat. I loved it,but not one i will revisit.Far too sad for me. Horror violence and mutilation i can do but losing some one you just fell in love with. No.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fantastic., 22 Sep 2010
By 
Christopher Meadows (York, UK) - See all my reviews
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This book is many things at once: a character study, a journey novel, a post apocalyptic adventure. The last of these is probably the best place to start. The text is set in an America a generation after a `Night Of The Living Dead' event; Cities are shattered. Government is non-existent. Hordes of the dead are roaming the earth in a cannibalistic frenzy. Uninfected survivors are holed up in fortified enclaves, or travelling (carefully) between them. The setting is familiar, the timing less so - the portrayal of younger characters who have known nothing but this shattered world is well done, and the older characters memories of a kinder world are delicately dropped into the context around them - emphasising the state of the remnants in which they now find themselves.

However, this is not a Resident Evil style novel, full of characters lurching from one danger to another, constantly in danger of being devoured. Rather than making the infected threat explicit, they are typically used as background, to ground the actions of characters in this new world. While the rise of the infected has created a new form of society, they are shown in the text more as a fact of life (like hurricanes, or flash floods), an unreasoning force which must be dealt with, rather than a vibrant, close range threat. This is not a novel where the heroic female protagonist saves the earth from a zombie horde, or even escapes from it. The time period forces us into a new mould, where the characters must integrate the reality of infected into their lives, and societies.

In another way, this text is a journey novel. Specifically, it follows the travels of a young woman named Temple, as she attempts to escape a pursuer with murder in mind. Whilst the pursuit itself is interesting and tense enough, the real colour here comes from the characters and situations that Temple encounters as she travels across this more desolate America. Rich survivors, holed up in a compound with electric fences and dark secrets, bizarre mutants, a fortified train...each is marvellously portrayed, and helps draw the reader into this unique world. Rather than World War Z, the text puts me in mind of Steinbeck, particularly The Grapes of Wrath, and Of Mice and Men. It isn't plot driven per se, but sets out to show the reader a world, and the characters and ways of life embedded within that world. The journey is clever, the settings excellent; the characters are believable, and, to some degree, disturbing. In each case, they are very well portrayed.

Finally, this can be seen as a character piece, a study of the interactions between Temple, a girl who is never entirely sure who she is, and her companions and nemeses. I won't go into detail here, for fear of spoiling the plot, but will say that Temple's struggles with her past are excellent, her actions and reactions drawn from a central character which is consistently and marvellously portrayed. The text is written in her voice, laconic, sharp, effective - a narrative which, in its structure, emphasises the character it surrounds.
To summarise, this is an excellent book. A character study where the characters are believable, if perhaps not always sympathetic, a journey novel where the travel - both internal and external - and setting are excellently portrayed; a post apocalyptic adventure with enough zombies for anybody - though perhaps not occupying the same position in the text as they do in books like I Am Legend.

This book sets out to do a great many things, and does them all well. I was drawn in and wrung out by it, and enjoyed it immensely. Well worth it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Romeroesque story arc, 15 Aug 2010
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
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With the Zombie Invasions on the rise in literature its always good when an author brings an offering that really a homage to the films of apocalypse that made many a fan of the undead hordes. Here within this offering by Alden Bell you get something that hits not only the need to see the splatteration of the undead but also a journey of survival against the masses and odds.

Beautifully written with a stark realism of emotional context backed up with some real thought provoking questions where the reader ends up questioning the characters sanity as they seek to survive its really a gem of a title that will appeal to a great many fans. This is a zombie book that many have been crying out for with its near Romeroesque story arc. A real gem and one that will have many a reader shouting "BBBBRRRAAAIIIINNNNSSS....."
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An instant post-apocalyptic classic., 16 Sep 2010
One of the most pleasing things as a book reviewer is to find a novel that spectacularly demolishes your expectations - especially when it seemingly comes out of nowhere with no hype attached to it. I had a strange feeling about The Reapers are the Angels from the minute I pulled it out of the padded envelope; there was just something enticing about it, though even now I'm not quite sure what it was. Perhaps it was the moody artwork (presented in a much darker tone to the one shown above), though I doubt it. Perhaps it was the style of the prose that I glanced over. Maybe it just connected with my like of post-apocalyptic fiction. Whatever. I just knew that I had to read this book as soon as possible.

So I did, and was rewarded with what will surely be one of this year's best genre releases.

Post-apocalyptic novels full of zombies are a dime a dozen, and it takes something special to truly stand out in this sub-genre (special like World War Z). But the best books are often those that attempt to take a familiar formula and inject a little bit of ingenuity into it in order to freshen it up. This is what The Reapers are the Angels does very well indeed.

Rather than focusing on the zombie outbreak and the sudden collapsing of civilisation, the story starts some twenty-five years after the zombie ("meatskin") uprising, in a world where humanity has been brought to its knees and yet somehow still holds out. More importantly, the main protagonist - a young woman by the name of Temple - was born after society collapsed. This bleak, ravaged world is all that she knows - and this lends a very interesting perspective to her character.

Temple makes for an excellent protagonist. Haunted by some hidden horrors from her past, she's fighting a constant battle against the evil that she is convinced lurks in her soul. She's more afraid of herself than she is of the walking dead, and this self-loathing and introverted anxiety causes her to shun the remnants of society - she's a wanderer, a wayfarer that seeks her own company almost like some sort of penance for a perceived crime that - to her mind - she committed and that God won't forgive her for.

Yet when she meets Maury - a helpless mute - Temple sees a chance to right some wrongs. A chance to rekindle the flicker of humanity inside her. And so she sets off across the southern states of what was once America, in an attempt to try and rebalance the scales. Unfortunately for her, the walking dead are the least of her troubles. There's a man on her tail, seeking a revenge that can only be achieved with her death. It seems that her past isn't willing to let her go so easily...

There is a wonderful dynamic underpinning the relationship that forms between Temple and Moses, her pursuer. There's an affinity, an understanding between then and it's interesting to see how it affects them and their actions. Moses is perhaps the only person that really understands her, and he performs a dual role - as both her potential murderer and surrogate father-figure. It's a beguiling mix, but one that works superbly. Temple's traits and quirks are also developed via her relationship with Maury: we see her iron resolve and the utter fearlessness she possesses, yet we also see flashes of the young girl that she is - glimpses of the carefree girl that she might have been in a different time. The result is both convincing and touching. Temple's ultimately a tragic figure, forced into a brutal, lonely life so different from the one she may have led had she been born decades earlier (the 'date' scene towards the end of the book is a wonderful hint at this very point).

The strong characterisation is matched by the prose. The use of the present tense lends a real sense of immediacy to the proceedings, while the lack of conventional dialogue and the fluid writing almost makes you feel like you're listening to the story rather than reading it: as if someone is telling it to you. Subsequently it takes on the feel of a modern fable. The style of the writing fits the subject matter perfectly - there's often a pleasingly whimsical undertone to the stark grandeur of the prose, an undertone that speaks of hope.

And there is hope in this ravaged world. Temple can see it; in a way it's what drives her on, this desire to see the beauty that can still be found if you know where to look, although she regards her enjoyment of such beauty as some sort of sacrilege. Yet this isn't a world where the undead hordes cover every square inch of the earth, but one where at times the living dead are almost an irrelevance. Often Temple will drive for miles and miles without seeing a single meatskin. And there are people traveling the country on the roads like they've always done: there is friendship and trust amongst them, and it's pleasing to see such virtues exist in a world where society is on the verge of collapse - it perhaps paints a different picture to many other novels with similar subject matter.

Verdict: The Reapers are the Angels is a real triumph, a literary fantasy where the zombies are mostly window-dressing. This is a novel more concerned with people and their relationships, with the human spirit and all its flaws and frailties. It's a story driven by the characters' needs to establish some sort of order in their lives, some sort of goal to cling to, and all the pitfalls that arise because of this need. It speaks of resilience and belief, of hope and sorrow, and the need to look for the beauty in life, no matter how hard that might be. An instant post-apocalyptic classic.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars S'alright but I'm not wild about it, 14 Jan 2011
By 
Sam Woodward (UK) - See all my reviews
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This story is set some 25 years or so after civilization has collapsed at the hands of a zombie apocalypse. The living dead still roam the streets, while nomads & small communities of humans survive by whatever means present themselves. Temple is a teenage wanderer with a somewhat Taoist perspective who decides to seek sanctuary with some other survivors for a while but events spiral out of control & she soon finds herself on the run as she's pursued by the unstable Moses.

The problem I had with this book was that as much as I love zombies, bless 'em, the world Bell created failed to draw me in from the get-go. This was because of numerous little niggles which quickly became major ones. Early on, Temple loots a shop which has been abandoned for 25 years & tucks into some peanut-butter crackers, Pringles & coke which have somehow not completely decayed or even become mouldy over the intervening decades. It seems all characters forage food in such a way (perhaps demonstrating the prevalence of the American viewpoint that food comes from the store, end of story) which even if it somehow had an unlimited use-by date, would surely have run out after so long a time. Then there's the cars which again have been abandoned for years yet start without any difficulties, petrol pumps which still function, people not having run out of bullets despite them no longer being manufactured yet being used at an alarming rate. On the one hand, these may sound like pedantic details but it meant that I was unable to be drawn into the story. I'm a fan of sci-fi & zombie films but the workings of even the most fantastical fictitious worlds created still have to be consistent to enable the suspension of disbelief.

The narrative of someone being pursued by a relentless enemy is not a new one (remember Terminator? Or how about Duel?). However, Bell seems to be using it to make a point - the characters' names, such as Temple, Moses & Abraham, give it added symbolic meaning, as did setting it in a zombie-infested world. But fundamentally Bell is sadly still working with a few too many clichés for my liking & the predictable set pieces left me somewhat underwhelmed. That said, I found certain aspects of Temple's character to be rather engaging.

I really wanted to like this book but while I certainly didn't detest it, I found it somewhat 'meh'. It's alright but it's ultimately just another book to add to an incredibly long list of similar novels & movies, some of which have been done better - but then in fairness, an awful lot have been much worse, too.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A minor holocaust on an earth erased by night ", 5 Oct 2010
By 
russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks) - See all my reviews
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Wanting zombie mayhem ? Wanting visceral horror , dread and shambling cadavers with a special yearning for human flesh? Want un-dead fiction that really grabs the guts of the post-apocalyptic vistas and existence, that ferrets deep into the last vestiges of humanity on a world populated by walking corpses? Want...okay you get the idea . Thing is The Reapers Are The Angels will give you all that to some extent but is also ,a beautifully written meditation ( the title is a subtle hint here I feel ) on survival, personal responsibility , revenge and finding something to cling onto in the most forlorn of circumstances.
Rather than focusing on the genesis of the zombie outbreak and the sudden disintegration of civilisation, the story starts some twenty-five years after the zombie uprising, in a world where humanity clings to a tenuous existence with isolated settlements dotted the American landscape and nomads roaming around scavenging for food .One of the nomads is the main protagonist - a young woman by the name of Temple - who was born after society collapsed. This bleak, desolate world is all that she knows - and this lends a fascinating practical perspective to her character. Though she calmly despatches the "Meatheads" as she dubs them ,she doesn't hate them and instead is subsumed with an ill defined guilt and self loathing .
However she can look after herself and when she fights off the inevitable advances of a "Skinny rodent of a man " she makes an enemy determined to track her down , even if it means following her all the way across the cadaver strewn vistas of America. Nor is she alone for the young Temple has picked up a shambling mute who she rather unfalteringly calls "The Dummy" , but who is also a chance for internal redemption and who offers her a chance to escape the dichotomy of her psyche.
The characterisation is superb, the prose lean sparse but often poetic in a dense pragmatic way and the story unerringly gravitates to a standoff , via some gut wrenching set pieces to a showdown that offers no easy answers and comes as more of a shock than any of the blood spattered mayhem that has gone before.
A post apocalyptic novel of some substance The Reapers Are the Angels gives us a world where the zombies are mere gristly sideshow , where the ransacked detritus of human existence is all around but where what really gives the novel it's heart and soul is in the frame of a young girl - a girl with "A real flame burning in her " She is a light in a world , enveloped by darkness, that will never go out .
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not a Fan, 8 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Reapers are the Angels (Paperback)
I am never one of these people that will not finish a book, even if it is bad. However, this book is boring, long and takes forever to move the story along. The opening chapter sees the reader meet a girl faced with a Zombie Apocalypse, which, to be honest, I couldn't really care less. The character is un-relatable and I really did not care about what happened to her. The first time you meet a Zombie, the author longs this out and cares more about describing what the girl is feeling, rather than creating an atmosphere of suspense and horror. The zombie itself, it nowhere near the girl so the whole scene is irrelevant.
I am not really into Zombie fiction, but I read Myra Grant's 'Feed' which was funny, fast moving and interesting, so much that I bought the entire series.
Maybe one day I will finally finish this book, but this will be when books have been made obsolete and this is the last book left on the planet.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Illogical and sappy., 4 Jan 2014
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I tried to start this review with the positives about this book, but I could not think of any from the top of my head. This book is not intended for fans of serious zombie fiction, there are a number of glaring plot holes which have been referred to by other reviewers such as the food and whiskey etc being in date, the dialogue is difficult to read for those of us who do not hail from the southern states and the main character is as likeable as a nail in the foot, with a drab stream of thoughts about god and the wonders of nature etc, etc. The ending is a real kick in the ass for anyone who makes it this far, it seems as if the author simply got bored of writing and cooked up the most predictable ending on the face of the planet.
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The Reapers are the Angels
The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell (Paperback - 2 Sep 2011)
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