The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell
On sale August 2010
“The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.” p176
The Reapers Are the Angels works a little differently from your run-of-the mill “zombie” story. It has been 25 years since the disease that brought down civilization struck. Zombies have been roaming around long enough for Temple never to have experienced a different world. At the age of 15 she has become a lone warrior, fending for herself, wise and mature beyond her years.
“She tells the woman that she has been traveling all her life that’s worth remembering, and that her mind feels almost filled up already, with people and sights and words and sins and redemptions.” P189
Humanity has managed to hang on and struggle to survive in the face of devastation. It can be found in bits and pieces, scattered throughout the world. Temple is a well rounded, mature character at the tender age of 15. She is the face of new civilization, struggling with a past that haunts every decision she makes. More afraid of herself than of the “slugs” or “meatskins” that have brought down society, she becomes a loner, certain of an evil that lurks inside.
Nevertheless, when she stumbles across a helpless mute by the name of Maury, she sees her chance to right some of the wrongs that she perceives in herself. Setting off across the southern states with Maury in tow, she has bigger problems than the “slugs”.
Moses Todd is hot on her trial set on revenge that can only be achieved by her death. But underlying this twist in the plot is the relationship that forms between Temple and Moses. They have an underlying affinity, understanding the new world and its code, seeing eye to eye, a shared vision. Moses is perhaps the only living person to truly understand Temple.
Moses serves Temple as both her would be murderer and as a surrogate father figure. It is a strange yet inspiring relationship. Maury also plays a significant role in showcasing Temple’s iron will, her kindnesses, and at times reveals the young girl inside.
The story is engaging and very different from what I expected. The Reapers Are the Angels is both well written and engaging. Strong prose mixed with unforgettable characters and an underlying sense of hope for humanity make this book a triumph. This is a book that focuses on human relationships, the struggle to create order out of chaos, and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. I would recommend this book as both an individual read and as part of a book club.