Intriguing take on zombies and full of interesting ideas, but probably better for those that don't normally read horror and figure its all worthless pulp (which of course a good bit of it is). The idea of zombies as social commentary with a few laughs has been done before and better (Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend" blows this into the weeds). And the idea of a "literary writer" tackling genre fiction is not necessarily new and can be excellent (Le Carre's spy novels or Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go"), but sometimes it can be awkward (I'm thinking Martin Amis' ill-advised take on Elmore Leonard, "Night Train"). Still, I was game and stuck with it until the end.
I was able to get past the pacing, but ultimately I think this novel collapses under the weight of its language. There is too much unneeded description and clever turns of phrase and too it often drained scenes of their impact and at times seemed a bit too precious. I'm more than happy to work through pages of character development and back story, and make no mistake Mark Spitz is a great character, although I found the name distracting (I kept thinking why not Michael Phelps? - okay, I'm from Maryland, so shoot me), but I prefer not to be constantly reminded that I am reading "literature." This seems to be what ultimately makes the novel drag. Good writing is unobstrusive, not constantly in your face.
Ultimately a horror novel needs to scary. It can be an "idea" novel or satire or a comment on our decaying culture, but if you're going to have zombies (even ironic ones) and a zippy name like "Zone One," you better build some serious suspense and have some serious scares. In the end, while I applaud the effort, it just didn't do it for me.
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