Review: The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell

10 July, 2012 Reviews 19 comments

Review: The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden BellThe Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell
Published by Henry Holt & Co. on August 3rd 2010
Pages: 294
Genres: Adult, Horror
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

Zombies have infested a fallen America. A young girl named Temple is on the run. Haunted by her past and pursued by a killer, Temple is surrounded by death and danger, hoping to be set free.

For twenty-five years, civilization has survived in meager enclaves, guarded against a plague of the dead. Temple wanders this blighted landscape, keeping to herself and keeping her demons inside her heart. She can't remember a time before the zombies, but she does remember an old man who took her in and the younger brother she cared for until the tragedy that set her on a personal journey toward redemption. Moving back and forth between the insulated remnants of society and the brutal frontier beyond, Temple must decide where ultimately to make a home and find the salvation she seeks.


Where the fuck do I even begin with this?

Oh, hi by the way. Please excuse me. I currently riding a wave of such bitter disappointment that is without the shadow of a doubt… Look I’m not gonna mince words. I feel fucking awful. And it is thanks to this shitting book. I DNF’d at 61% because I literally couldn’t take any more of this… awful… just plain bad… terrible fucking book.

Look at that blurb… Look at it. How fucking awesome does that sound? Seriously. Post apocalyptic world. Zombies. Kick-ass heroine. Blood, guts, gore… Essentially I was expecting a modern Odyssey of epic fucking proportions. And what did I get? Fallout for idiots… on a zombie painted backdrop. That was essentially the tone that I was beaten about the head with. I mean seriously. There was nothing in the least bit original in this. Not even the mutants, which were introduced not long before I DNF’d, were original.

I mean come on Mr Bell. Please, for the love of all the undead shambling masses you totally fucked up, TRY HARDER! And by try harder I mean actually learn to write a structured tale. I got to 61%… where was the plot? All I encountered plot wise was literally, “well maybe I’ll keep moving”. Fucking what? What the fuck kind of plot is that? It worked in Lord of The Rings because all they had to do was walk and drop a ring in a volcano… BUT THS IS A ZOMBIE NOVEL!

The zombies and the post apocalyptic world were little more than piss weak set dressings. In her travels our 15 (or 16, she can’t decide) year old heroine encounters a colony in skyscrapers, a few eccentric hunters, a mentally handicapped man (who she calls Dummy, which I found offensive), probably the only racists left on the North American continent (seriously they have black servants they refer to as boy and girl), and a group of mutated nutters who inject themselves with zombie brains… to become zombies… with brains. Yet despite all of this… nothing actually happens. Well one thing happened and that triggered this road trip, but other than that it is just so much flowery writing with shockingly poor attempts at dialogue.

I have a request now. Seriously… Raise your hand if you understand that speech marks are necessary. Cheer if you, like me, understand that they don’t interrupt the flow of the writing, and that they actually preserve the flow by indicating when speech has started. Not in Alden Bells novel. No, sir. Speech Marks are too mainstream for this piece of “literature” (and I promise, that is used in the loosest fucking way possible). Let me show you what I mean. Here is a dialogue quote from the book. As it would flow in the book.

Oh, he says. Just somethin I saw a long time ago.

What was it?

It was in a place called Sequarchie, he says, speaking slowly. That’s in Tennessee. I was just passin through, and there was this woman…

Fuck me with a machete up the arse. This is not how you write dialogue. This is not how you keep the reader engaged in the tale. KINDERGARTENERS KNOW THIS! It’s one of the basic fundamentals of the English language. Why change what isn’t broken?

There is no excuse for it. Especially in a novel that has been traditionally published. I can’t comprehend how this was even picked up. The one saving grace for it was that some of the descriptive writing was gorgeous. But other than that… no. I’m sorry. I’ve read better zombie fiction in the novelisation of Dead Island. Fuck even Night of the Living Trekkies was better than this!

Unhappy reading




Reviewer at Cuddlebuggery
Archer is a scouser currently residing in Australia, yes he does realise that he is about as far from home as it is possible to get. He enjoys reading anything that can hold his attention for more than the first chapter and he doesn't really care what genre it is either. Reading has been something he has done since he was a child and it is still, in his mind, one of the best ways to kill time. Outside of reading and writing book reviews, Archer is a serious gamer and he reviews the games he plays when he gets a chance. He is also a very keen amateur photographer, an enthusiastic cook and enjoys spending time watching films and essentially trying not to stress. Find him on GoodReads.

19 Responses to “Review: The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell”

  1. Kara @ Great Imaginations

    I hate books without quotation marks to denote dialogue. Automatic one star. I have no time to struggle through a book trying to figure out when and where the characters are speaking. Besides, it’s SO pretentious. And that’s tacky too.

    Sorry you were disappointed with this one. I have it on my list and now I will probably be taking it off. If this book made you this angry, I can only imagine the damage it will do to my psyche. No thanks.

    I take that back. This is one I will be torturing myself with at some point. You hated it but Wendy Darling loved it. Two reviewers I trust so I HAVE to take a stab at it. Hope I like it better than you did.
    Kara @ Great Imaginations recently posted…Book Review and Giveaway of The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson WalkerMy Profile

  2. Amanda the Book Slayer

    What the hell. I may suck at Grammar but even I know that you need quotation marks. Good lord how do you know if it is actually being said out loud and not a thought? Seriously, I can’t even believe you read 61% of it. I totally would have put it down after the quotation problem.

    Unlike Kara, I won’t be reading. Zombies really aren’t my thing so I am good to go. I am still struggling to bring myself to read Anna Dressed in Blood. Horror and I are having a stare down. I think I am losing.
    Amanda the Book Slayer recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday = Photo GalleryMy Profile

  3. Joan

    Aw, dammit. This was on my TBR pile. You and I agreed 100% on Anna Dressed in Blood, so I’ve no doubt I’ll agree with you on this.

    I once wrote a drabble with no quotation marks to differentiate the dialog. I did that to convey that the viewpoint character was badly shaken up after a tragedy. But that was, you know… one hundred words long.

    • Archer

      @Joan: Yeah… this has it for every single dialogue interaction. And some of them are supposed to be quite important. It was not a pleasant experience.

  4. Parajunkee

    Good lawd…pass me a beer, because that review just threw my inner projector into a tail spin — I just had a mental image of a “machete up the arse” and now I think I have the shakes. This book wasn’t on my radar before this, I guess it will stay off…but I was never a big fan of Southern Gothic, they usually make us Southerners look less Gothic and more moronic. But, that is me stereotyping.
    Parajunkee recently posted…Some Great eBooks on SaleMy Profile

  5. AnimeJune

    Yikes. I’m used to not having the quotation marks with dialogue – but that’s from reading French novels and the French don’t use them. Is it a translation? Otherwise – bah. I hate directionless novels that go nowhere and make no sense. Sorry you had to sit through this one!
    AnimeJune recently posted…The Weekly Wanting (11)My Profile

  6. Molly Groman

    I finished this book just two days back and it is a beautiful story of a 15-year-old girl wandering a barren wasteland. This is a zombie novel, but it’s not your run-of-the-mill gorefest. I really enjoyed this story! If you like post-apocalyptic, give this one a tumble. It’s a quick and easy read, very well-written, with some fun, rip-roaring moments.
    Molly Groman recently posted…I no longer have the stamina for all nighters!My Profile

    • Archer

      @Molly Groman: I respectfully disagree. I didn’t find it to be well written in the least and I encountered no fun or rip-roaring moments. I do like post-apocalyptic stories but this read like every generic post-apocalyptic walkathon I have ever encountered.

      I do agree, it’s not the usual Zombie novel, in that the Zombies provide little to no threat whatsoever, in fact it was the other humans that were the problem. I honestly feel that without the zombies the books would in effect be entirely the same. Replace them with radiation, with aliens, with demons… any number of things and it would still be exactly the same book. I felt they were nothing more than set dressing.

      I am honestly glad that you enjoyed the book, because everybody has different tastes. But to imply that if someone likes post-apocalyptic stories that they’ll like this is inaccurate. Because to some this will be a trudging, poorly written tale with very little saving graces.

  7. Maggie

    I have seen no quotation marks work- in Cormac McCarthy, who can write a freaking amazing story that compels and draws you in so many ways that after a while you just get used to the weird style of dialogue. It can work, so that in and of itself wouldn’t be a dealbreaker- but the bad dialogue and disappointing plot do sound worrying. Zombies are really hard to do write in any form, and it doesn’t sound like this writer had either the skill or the patience to actually develop the world and characters enough to overcome that difficulty.
    Maggie recently posted…Thoughts on ‘Boneshaker’My Profile

    • Archer

      @Maggie: I don’t think he actually tried. The zombies were no threat. They were just sort of there, like a back drop. I probably could’ve overcome the lack of dialogue marks if it was a well penned world. But as it was, it wasn’t it was annoying.

  8. Yeti

    you have made me smile and laugh after a very bad day, i’m sorry the book was crap but yay for an ace review that cracked me up…I even read bits out to my husband!

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