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Book Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

World War Z Cover

Title: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Author: Max Brooks
Genre: Apocalyptic Horror
Length:  420 Pages
Publisher: Broadway Books
Release Date: May 28, 2013 (first published 2006)
ISBN: 978-0-7704-3740-4

Book Summary: 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’?”

Review: Not being a fan of horror and eschewing anything related to zombies, I shocked myself when I not only bought World War Z, but read it. I don’t read these types of books for a reason–my mind likes to replay scenes over and over while I sleep, giving me nightmares. The movie I Am Legend gave me nightmares for a week, and I had to walk out of Warm Bodies.

I can hear you laughing from here….

Surprisingly enough, I loved this book, and as long as I didn’t read it before bedtime and “cleansed my brain-palate” with another book, I didn’t have too many zombie dreams.

World War Z is a well-executed and thought-out book, which appealed to my scientific side that craves exploring every scenario and leaving no stone unturned. Presented in interview format, it tells the story of the Zombie apocalypse through firsthand accounts of those who fought and/or survived the war. I particularly enjoyed how Brooks gave us a realistic view of what would happen to the world if the walking dead were a reality and how the living would react upon first hearing the news. How many of us would actually believe that zombies were real? How many governments would take the threat seriously if someone tried to raise the alarm? And how many mistakes and lives would be lost before we started to get something right? It is a chilling tale. And while it does highlight mankind’s dependence on technology and the belief that our government will bail us out, these are the issues that cripple mankind in the fight against the zombies. Eventually the living figure out a better way to fight, but not before we are brought to the brink of near extinction and the loss of most of the civilized world. What is left is a planet that is a mere shadow of what it once was and yet not all the changes are negative.

I particularly enjoyed the socio-economic shift of the United States. The prize jobs went to the blue-collar worker with the skills to rebuild a country while the white-collar worker with little skill outside the boardroom became the janitors and labor crews in the war against the zombies. It’s almost enough for me to hone the skills I learned growing up on a farm…. Maybe I’ll take up welding as a hobby.

For the record I refuse to go see the movie. My husband and son saw it, and I know the movie and the book aren’t very similar. But either way, I cannot do zombie movies (unless it’s Shawn of the Dead, which I found hilarious and not the least bit scary). Do I plan to carve out room on my bookshelf for more horror books? Probably not. But I might be willing to give I Am Legend a try. It’s been on my Kindle for a year. Haha!

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9 comments on “Book Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

  1. It’s official, i need to read this book. And I Am Legend (the book) isn’t that scary, if I remember correctly.

    • Do read it. I was really surprised by how much I liked it. If you go see the movie, don’t expect it to be like the book. Haha! My husband started the book last night, although he probably doesn’t need to because I kept telling him about the book as I read. He knows all the good stuff now. LOL How have you been, btw?

  2. Well, I didn’t see I am Legend until Jonas made me, saying it was NOT what I was thinking (I had no idea about the zombies ya know)
    So I saw it, cried, got sligthy scared and have a vivid imagination 🙂 I liked the movie, although it was indeed quite scary and, for me (I am one of the crazy ones that would believe you if you came running warning about a zombie army) realistic…
    I will read the book now, but will not see the movie World War Z. I have no clue how my overactive imagination will take it and if I’ll get sleep 😉 But, if need be, I have two other books I’m reading, so if I start now, I have enough other ‘fun’ to cleanse my mind before bedtime 😀

    And just for the record: just seeing the DVD of Event Horizon gives me the creeps… I saw that movie thinking ‘ooh, something a Trekkie will like’ -> you can imagine how I felt after… I didn’t sleep for days, scared a shitload but on a positive note: while awake and not sleeping, I studie my physics book….

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