...should have known that Whitehead, the 41-year-old MacArthur Foundation 'genius,' wouldn’t do the zombie walk in lock step with George Romero, but what’s most surprising about Zone One is how subtly he reanimates those old body parts for a post-9/11 world ... Readers who wouldn’t ordinarily creep into a novel festooned with putrid flesh might be lured by this certifiably hip writer who can spin gore into macabre poetry ... That grim humor slithers through most of this novel, along with touches of Whitehead’s topical satire... Mark’s soul-weariness infects the tone and pace of the novel, too, which offers more eulogy than suspense ... Everything comes to life in this perfectly paced, horrific, 40-page finale shot through with grim comedy and desolate wisdom about the modern age in all its poisonous, contaminating rage.
Even looking past its Halloween-adjacent release date, Zone One comes at a time when such horrors are enjoying a pop culture renaissance that arguably began with Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later in 2002 ...Whitehead's zombie universe is a much more tragic and undeniably more human place ... Whether charged with bleak sadness or bone-dry humor, sentences worth savoring pile up faster than the body count... Linguistically cryptic military diagnoses, the PR churn of the war machine and a merciless city that fed on its own long before its citizens started feeding on one another still endure in Whitehead's apocalypse, all the way to the bitter end.
Colson Whitehead is a literary novelist, but his latest book, Zone One, features zombies, which means horror fans and gore gourmands will soon have him on their radar ... But unless they’re entirely beyond the beguilements of art they will also feel fruitfully disturbed, because Zone One will have forced them, whether they signed up for it or not, to see the strangeness of the familiar and the familiarity of the strange ... A plot summary is impossible: there isn’t a plot. To make matters worse, the protagonist is a laconic introvert of self-avowed mediocrity ...once he finds his register, Whitehead writes with economy, texture and punch. He has a talent for sardonic aphorism...a cool, thoughtful and, for all its ludic violence, strangely tender novel, a celebration of modernity and a pre-emptive wake for its demise.