World War Z by Max Brooks: Review

World War Z by Max Brooks
Title: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Author: Max Brooks
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: September 2006
Length: 342 pages
Series: Stand Alone
Audio or Book: Book
Reason for Discovery: Sword & Laser Book Club

From GoodReads:

The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. "World War Z" is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, "By excluding the human factor, aren't we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn't the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as 'the living dead'?"

I can't remember if I have mentioned my fear of zombies, but I think it bears repeating in this review. I am honestly scared of zombies. I figure if the world is going to end, zombies are going to be the reason. There is going to be some technological advancement that is going to turn out to be the zombie virus. I think this is why I especially love all of Mira Grant's books. Her conspiracy theories ring true for me. I should state for the record that I don't avoid any medical advancements. I get my annual flu shot, and I do whatever my doctor tells me to do. I am just very concerned about zombies. 

When I heard about World War Z, I got quite excited. This book combined my fear of zombies with my love of documentaries. If you are not familiar with the book (the movie is very different), World War Z is a collection of interviews from people who experienced the Zombie war. The different interviews give you the opportunity to see what life would have been like for the military, politicians, medical personnel, "regular people," and others. There are interviews discussing the possible cause of the outbreak, how people managed the outbreak, and the horrible consequences of the Zombie War. 

World War Z definitely captured my heart and mind. It was like reading a Ken Burns documentary. In fact, there is a great video of World War Z turned into a Ken Burns documentary. I really wish that Burns could do this movie. I would watch the heck out of that movie. Check out the video!

Brooks did a great job of making sure that there were a variety of characters in World War Z. There was just enough of each interview that I felt like these folks were real people and truly experienced these events. Brooks kept my attention by giving out just enough clues throughout the book of how the humans managed the zombies that were invading their lands. I read World War Z a long time ago now; however, many of the stories have stayed with me.

My only complaint regarding this book was that at times some of the characters seemed to have the same "voice." Writing so many different and unique characters is very hard, and I am not sure if Brooks had the writing expertise to pull it off. At the same time, I kept reading the book, because it maintained my interest.

If you are an audio book fan, I have heard amazing things about the audio version of World War Z. Max Brooks, Alan Alda, John Turturro, Rob Reiner, Mark Hamill, Alfred Molina, Simon Pegg, Henry Rollins, and Martin Scorsese all narrate the book. It is really wonderful that the publisher got such a diverse cast to narrate the book. It should be noted, however, that the original audio book was abridged. When the movie came out, a longer audio book was made; however, it is still abridged. 

Overall, I really enjoyed World War Z. It is a captivating zombie book that uses a very unique narration style to tell its story. I can see this book holding up to the test of time.

I give this book a 4 out of 5.


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