In a post-apocalyptic world razed by natural disaster, war and pestilence, the state formally known as Arizona is governed by The Church. Preachers hunt down those who have sinned and offer two choices. Death or purgatory. Lead is one such preacher. He carries out the will of God without question until one day he is ordered to apprehend another preacher.

The Zona is a short but thought provoking story. At the start, Lead has been bound to a rock in the heat of the barren Zona desert. We don’t know if he is being punished for being a preacher or for sinning in the eyes of The Church. The clock is rewound and the story is told from the day Lead started to doubt as well as the use of framed narrative to explain what has happened to the world.

The preachers answer to no one. They say that God speaks to them direct but gives no reasons for punishment. To displease the preachers is to sin and sins must be punished. It’s a scary thought and the back-story is believable. One horrific event set the world in chaos and people took advantage. Over time, one bad thing triggers another until the world is unrecognisable.

It highlights that justice and religious belief should be kept separate. That the fear of a god is not the right way to rule and in the hands of the corrupt, religion can be a weapon against those they wish to silence. The people of The Zona are not free to believe in what they wish and the religion forced upon them is not one they wish to follow. I think you only have to look around the world in recent years to find that can happen.

The Zona is published by Curiosity Quills and will be available from 15th February 2012 in ebook form with a paperback shortly after. Thanks go to the publisher for providing me with a copy to review via NetGalley.