Review GPA: ZONE ONE by Colson Whitehead

In Review GPA, we translate reviews of notable new books into letter grades and determine a grade point average. Check out last week’s installment on The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides.

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From the Esquire review by Tom Chiarella:

Gold Star:

Zone One marks the arrival of Whitehead’s real narrative engine. He’s telling a story — tumble down, mired in the wreckage of the world we currently pretend to cherish. It’s a book you want to read rather than one you should read.

Demerit: None

Grade: A

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From the Guardian review by Patrick Ness

Gold Star:

“A fragile hope permeates these pages, one so painful and tender, it’s heartbreaking. There have been sharper zombie tales – the bitter satirical punch of George A Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead film is unimprovable – but I can’t recall one this sad and moving.”

Demerit:

“Whitehead does have a tendency to overwrite – sentences sometimes grow so rhythmical, you fail to take in their actual meaning as the words wash over you…”

Grade: A-

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From the Entertainment Weekly review by Rob Brunner

Gold Star:

Zone One is not the work of a serious novelist slumming it with some genre-novel cash-in, but rather a lovely piece of writing that happens to be about hordes of homicidal undead.

Demerit:

None

Grade: A-
(publication assigned)

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From The Wall Street Journal review by James Kennedy:

Gold Star:

“But if you’re going to break down and read a zombie novel, make it this one. Among the hundreds of hamburgers, “Zone One” stands out as the steak. Or better yet, ‘a good, fully developed veal.'”

Demerit:

“…if Mr. Whitehead scents the opportunity to digress on sitcom-inspired hairstyles or the rituals of the human-resources department, he’s not shy about hitting pause on a life-or-death hand-to-hand combat scene. Repeatedly.”

Grade: B+

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From the Amazon review by Justin Cronin:

Gold Star:

“For a long time Whitehead has strutted his stuff as one of our smartest young writers, and Zone One is every inch the book he was born to write, a pop-culture thriller of the first order. It will make you think.”

Demerit:

None

Grade: A

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Review GPA: 3.74 (A-)

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