Theological inquiry in a post-apocalyptic setting - that's Nathan Yocum's "The Zona." Wasn't it Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, or someone of their deluded ilk who claimed that 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake were God's punishment for loose sexual behavior? The theocrats in "The Zona" would have felt right at home in Robertson's judgmental theological world. "Hey, it could just be the hamburger I ate earlier repeating on me, but I think God wants me to destroy Las Vegas - the spawn of Satan and primary reason that God ended the world as we knew it." I'm not a fan of such cruelty disguised as theology. Yocum appears to offer "The Zona" as one big Theodicy (Why do bad things happen to good people? What kind of God allows or requires suffering?) lesson. I enjoyed following the debate.
Though I enjoyed the theology lesson, I felt Yocum might have tried to cram a little too much Bible/religion stuff into a short 115-page novel. References to Jesus, Job, Moses, Isaiah, burning bushes, floods, crucifixion, Revelation/four horsemen of the apocalypse, heaven/hell/purgatory, sin/salvation/damnation - all concepts play prominent roles in the novel. Then there's the Dante's inferno reference complete with the ninth circle of Hell and a beautiful nurse named Beatrice. Overkill? Perhaps.
Finally, there's the editing. Omitted articles, misspelled words, and grammar mistakes came up repeatedly throughout the book. The errors occurred quite frequently, to the point where I found myself distracted by the mistakes. A solid proofreader could make all the difference in a second edition of the book.
Overall, I enjoyed "The Zona" and it's depiction of a tragedy-inspired theocracy. Now if we can just keep such aspiring theocrats at bay!