World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks was . . . interesting.
WORLD WAR Z is Max Brooks’s life work. Logging countless hours of travel to capture and preserve first-hand experiences from the Dark Years, Brooks records in great detail the one aspect that has been neglected in all previous retellings of this war: the extraordinary job we did in coming together to thwart our extinction and reign triumphant.
Brooks’ imagination and dedication to zombies is undeniable. The amount of research and planning that he had to do in preparation for writing World War Z is admirable. The book’s format – personal interviews with survivors of the zombie apocalypse – is unique enough to keep most zombie addicts turning the page. Plus, it’s written, quite convincingly, as non-fiction.
However, the 352-page book has its flaws. And those flaws could prove too numerous for picky readers, who might choose to close the book and never pick it up again.
Since the end of official hostilities, numerous attempts have been made to document the Zombie War. WORLD WAR Z is the definitive account of the technological, military, social, economic, and political details as told through survivors’ stories of how civilization went from the brink of extinction to a universal victory against the living dead.
The introduction insists the book was written to share “the human factor” of “The Crisis,” but I found myself buried in a lot of intricate details about weapons and military tactics, most of which I’m fairly certain were unnecessary. Perhaps for certain readers, those details were entertaining. To me, they didn’t move the story forward and acted more like filler than substance.
The dozens of first person accounts of survival featured a majority of flat characters, who never really jumped off the page, and only a couple characters had their own voice. However, a few of them were more developed and I actually cared about those stories, e.g. Jesika Hendricks, Sharon, Tomonaga Ijiro and Kondo Tasumi.
Some readers might get offended by the notion that our government would sacrifice us or attempt to cover its own ass during a time of global crisis. I was not. But I’m a big conspiracy theorist, which means I’m probably biased in that department. America’s lust for capitalism and humanity’s tendency to not be so humane were also explored throughout the book. Again, those themes might offend most people’s pride and belief that humans are the best thing since toilet paper. There were a lot of thought-provoking questions that came to mind while reading, which is always fun, for me anyway.
Overall, World War Z helped me pass the time and explore a different way of telling a story. It gives the reader an idea of what life (and war and death) would be like for the world should the dead ever reanimate. The impossibilities are both frightening and eye-opening.
Brooks’ talent for first person POV is something I hope we get to see more of, just not in the Zombie Survival Guide / World War Z fashion. I’d enjoy seeing what he could do with a straight up horror story about zombies along the lines of The Night of the Living Dead but with his own spin of course.
Psst! The film rights were sold so it looks like World War Z will be coming soon to a theater near you.