World War Z by Max Brooks- A Review

180px-World_War_Z_book_coverI picked up World War Z for really only one reason, zombies. The idea of a zombie apocalypse has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon recently. We have become a culture obsessed not only with the end of the world but the idea of the un-dead taking over. There are many different takes on what life would be like if the dead decided to get up and try to eat us. I became a fan of the idea because of the show “The Walking Dead” as well as the comics. The idea of zombies is fascinating because they can range in so many ways from fast walking, somewhat thinking, to nothing but death machines.

When I actually picked up the book and read what it was really about, I was intrigued by the “an oral history of the zombie war,” tag line on the bottom. This made me buy the book right away. I knew that this was going to be different from the variety of zombie related books and stories out there right now. Right now the stories are all about one group of people or one person trying to survive in a new world where the dead walk. They are mainly stories about survival and trying to find a cure to save the world. Whereas this book was very different. This is a book that gives a fictional first hand account of what the whole ordeal was about. It isn’t from one perspective, it is from every perspective. This gives a complete overview of how this ordeal started, how it spread, how it was fought and what life is like now.

The book is broken up into a variety of parts that starts with “Warnings,”   and move through pieces to the  “The Great Panic” all the way until “Good-byes”. It is a play by play of what happened and how it was dealt with. “Blame,” is a detailed account of who screwed up, who didn’t say what they should have and why the epidemic got out of control. “The Great Panic,” is the point where everyone loses their minds and freaks out, where no one knows where to turn or who to trust. “Around the World, and Above,” is a take on the scale of the problem, it ranged from the darkest forests to the most populated cities. Where as “Good-Byes,” is where we get to see how life is going to move on, if it can.

The most intriguing and interesting part of this novel was the way it felt so real. The voices of the people interviewed are so true to the world we know today that sometimes you forget that this never actually happened. The panic described, the blame thrown back and forth, and the attempts to justify huge mistakes; are so true to the world we live in today that it is easy to forget this book is about a zombie war. It is so easy to sit back and see that this is how a zombie apocalypse would really play out. A cover up trying to pretend that this isn’t as bad as it seems, people running from their homes not having any idea where to truly go and the military trying to find a way to fix a problem that is without any standard seen before. If we ever come up to this problem in our real lives, reading this book could truly prepare us for what we could have to deal with.

I generally don’t book mark portions of a book. I don’t fold pages to hold passages, sometimes there are quotes I’ll keep for later use, but rarely is it whole chapters or paragraphs. I found myself turning down pages in this book though, because I wanted to remember where to find this poignant passages. Such as one passage that puts it perfectly how difficult a war like this would be to fight, “They would fight until the very end because, unlike us, every single one of them, every second of every day, was devoted to consuming all life on Earth.” (Brooks, 273). This struck a cord with me, because of how true that is. Our enemies today don’t have that, they are human, they have limitations. This one part really drove home how difficult this whole ordeal was for the characters being interviewed.

Another passage that really struck with me was at the very end where the interviewer is interviewing people about how life would move on from this point. It is a passage that proves that moving on from where the dead have risen and now walk among us, isn’t something you can just walk away from. “I’ve heard it said the Holocaust had no survivors,….that their spirit, their soul, the person that they were supposed to be, was gone forever. I’d like to think that’s not true. But if it is, then no one on Earth survived this war.” (Brooks, 340). This really hammers home the point of the whole book, an account of this war that affected everyone on every continent in every race and walk of life. There was no escaping the disaster.

I liked this book because of how real to life it seemed. You could remove the zombies and have a spine shivering account of war and the horrible effects if has on the world around us. The voices are so true to life, the way the ordeal was handled and the way it reached out and encompassed everyone and everything that was in its path, rang so clear and real. You feel for the panicked people, you understand the hopelessness of failed military strategies and you rejoice as the war comes to an end.

I am curious to see how the movie is handled. This is an oral history, full of just interviews. How do you interpret that in a film? Once it comes out on DVD I will be renting to see how true to the story it really stayed. I am curious how it will translate all these voices into a film and one cohesive story.


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