If I had to choose an all-time favorite novel, Alden Bell's The Reapers are the Angels just might be it. Really, that's all that needs to be said.*
But I'll say more anyway.
I mentioned The Reapers are the Angels (we'll call it TRATA for short) in a post a couple years ago in which I geeked out a bit over everything zombie. If anything, my feelings for the book have only grown since then. I've actually been meaning to do a reread of it, but I've been so busy reading and writing other things that I haven't gotten around to it. (Which, incidentally, is another testament to the awesomeness of this book. I rarely, if ever, reread anything. There is so much out there I want to yet read, it is impossible to justify. But there are a few exceptions, and TRATA is one of them.)
The narrative centers around a young girl, Temple. In a lot of ways, TRATA is your typical zombie post-apocalypse story: Temple fends off the dead. She also fends off humans, and one who is hunting her in particular. But it's a coming of age type story, too. And it's about miracles. And the language. You'd never think a zombie apocalypse novel could be beautiful, but guys...The Reapers are the Angels is beautiful.
On something of a side note, I recently played The Last of Us, a PS3 game that takes place in a post-apocalyptic, zombie-like world. And that game is surprisingly similar in tone to TRATA. If you liked one, I think you'll like the other. The Last of Us deserves a post unto itself, so hopefully I'll get around to that--in fact, an update on my zombie post from a couple years ago might be due. Zombie media has changed significantly even in just the past few years, and it might be interesting to talk about how.
The Reapers are the Angels is exactly the kind of story I love to read, and it's exactly he kind of story I want to write. I mean, I like zombies, so it's cool that this book has zombies in it. But what I love most is that it's about a character, and it examines closely that character and her role in the world around her. It presents a fascinating setting, but manages to make me truly care for Temple. And it makes me feel things. Like, emotions and stuff. Books that do that, at least for me, are kind of few and far between. Zombie books (or TV shows, or movies, for that matter) are even more rare. So, seriously...this one's a keeper.
Ok, and want to know the best part about writing this post? In checking out Alden Bell's website, I've just discovered that there's a sequel to TRATA. Exit Kingdom. Guys. This is amazing. AND I'M GOING TO GO BUY IT AND READ IT IMMEDIATELY.
You should, too.
* Because picking a favorite author, let alone a favorite book, is nigh impossible for just about any writer. Seriously, ask one. It really is. But, gun to my head, TRATA just might be the title I whisper. Definitely makes my top 5 favorite novels, in any case.