Survival Skills

Colson Whitehead's novel "Zone One" might be called a zombie novel or post-apocalyptic fiction. But even those without interest in Armageddon scenarios or the undead will enjoy this thought-provoking book. In addition to presenting a gruesome picture of the aftermath of a worldwide catastrophe, it explores the survival techniques humans use to live with one another in good times and bad.

Mark Spitz is part of a sweeper crew working in a walled-off area of New York City. It has been a few years since Last Night when a plague turned most of the population into either flesh-hungry "skels" or catatonic "stragglers." Spitz and his crew are tasked with eradicating infected inhabitants within Zone One. In his pre-plague life Spitz was merely competent, not exceptional. But his new circumstances illuminate his talent for survival.

Living within a walled city, forced to hunt fellow human beings, Spitz considers the personal barriers he and others have always used to keep others at bay. He notes that survivors see monsters rather than humans when they encounter the infected. The struggle for physical and mental survival is compelling. If you read only one zombie novel this year, or ever, choose this one.

--Jennifer A., Headquarters


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