Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Zone One

By Colson Whitehead

  • Release Date: 2011-10-18
  • Genre: Literary
Score: 3.5
From 363 Ratings
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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Underground Railroad

A pandemic has devastated the planet, sorting humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. After the worst of the plague is over, armed forces stationed in Chinatown’s Fort Wonton have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street—aka Zone One. Mark Spitz is a member of one of the three-person civilian sweeper units tasked with clearing lower Manhattan of the remaining feral zombies. Zone One unfolds over three surreal days in which Spitz is occupied with the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder (PASD), and the impossible task of coming to terms with a fallen world. And then things start to go terribly wrong…

At once a chilling horror story and a literary novel by a contemporary master, Zone One is a dazzling portrait of modern civilization in all its wretched, shambling glory.


  • Ready to read it again

    By Neil Ross
    I waited anxiously for the book to be released, and read it immediately. Now that several months have passed, I'm getting the urge to read it again---it's that good. Yeah, it helps being a fan of the zombie of genre, and a New Yorker living in the neighborhood where most of the book takes place (I suppose I'm horribly biased), but really it's the combination of a horror story with fantastic writing, that makes it so readable and enjoyable.
  • Overwritten but thought provoking

    By Scarlett Indigo
    Post apocalyptic fan here. But zombie fiction not my cup of tea. Downloaded Zone One after listening to an interview with the author on NPR. Sounded very personable. Zone One is somewhat autobiographical - intriguing how he threaded pieces of his own story into the book. Its exploration of PASD - how an apocalypse would impact survivors psychologically - renders Zone One worth the read. It ends on a shard of hope - nice. BUT the books debit? Heinously overwritten.
  • Bleak

    By JayLando
    Even for a post-apocalyptic tale I found this to be pretty miserable. It does not paint a positive picture of this potential future but it seems more disgusted by the way we live now. None of that holds me back from saying I enjoyed the book... though "enjoy" tastes like the ash of incinerated undead on the tongue. This book is all minutiae & banality until its grandiose conclusion. I really appreciate not feeling like I was being sold the TV or film pitch. If you are a fan of genre or shoe gaze protagonist then I recommend this book.
  • 100 Words or Less

    By JRubino
    It’s been months since I read this and I still have dreams about some of the scenes. Not that it’s so terrifying, but that it’s so real; not easy with such a worn-out genre as the zombie apocalypse. Whitehead’s writing is detailed and so beautifully constructed. He casts aside any snark (so often seen nowadays in this subject) and treats it with real emotion. It works. He has somehow found a way to tap into the eternal hope we all have, even when the world is ending. This is a great book in that sense. Truly unique among its peers.
  • A great zombie apocalypse novel.

    By ErwinLoh
    Tip for prospective readers - this book is slow to start - you need to push through the first hundred pages and make it past the author's verbosity and flowery descriptions, and you will be rewarded by an excellent story that goes beyond your usual zombie fare. Immerse yourself in the words and let them wash through you and you will end up with an experience you won't other easily. The ending was confronting and very emotive.
  • Zone One

    By Alva Johnson
    Thoughtfully dense, yet ultimately rewarding, this story offers a new perspective on the genre. A great read.
  • Book doesn't grab ya...

    By Lowhawk
    I was never really able to get into this book due to its lumbering pacing and overly wordy narration. It's like listening to someone talk on and on and on. At the end you just feel exhausted and glad the conversation is over. It's a shame because it held some promise, but sadly it just couldn't deliver. I found myself wanting to skip portions almost from the get go and that's never good.
  • Good story, Wordy execution

    By Aaron Songer
    Overall, I enjoyed the concept of the story. However, the author's approach made the read disjointed. There was too much detail and description with every thought and it kept the story from "flowing".
  • Helprin meets zombies

    By Corey Pressman
    A beautifully written meditation on the city, beauty, and zombies. Winters Tale meets The Walking Dead.
  • Great!

    By Danswartos
    My first zombie novel, and probably my last. I don't think any other could top this.