Thursday, June 27, 2013

BRT: World War Z by Max Brooks

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Title: World War Z
Author: Max Brooks
Number of Pages: 342
Date Published: September 12, 2006
Rating: 1.5/5
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.
Just like the summary itself (which is actually, what? Seven paragraphs?), this book is far too long. Much too long for us to give focus to over fifty characters! What I can give points to is the fact it's called a documentary, for indeed it is: it is long and boring.
Granted, I don't read much zombie lore. But when I do, I expect it to be a lot scarier than this. I didn't expect to be reading through political motivations, tactical planning, war measures, business opportunities, and especially not from over fifty different perspectives. That's just too much. In the prologue, the narrator tells you he wishes to include the human element of all these events; and take out his own. In my opinion, he took out all of it. The book felt too mechanic, like a machine in which he was fitting the cogs: the people we were reading about.
Sure, there were parts where I said, "Ooh, wow! So what happens next?" Thing is, whenever that happened, that was when the perspective changed and I was starting from scratch. Again.
The few encounters I've had with zombie lore stick to a certain set of people. I think that's the thing that most irritated me about World War Z. You didn't have one person to worry about and stick to. You never found out the real conclusion for these people other than the fact the narrator is interviewing them. I want to know how they recovered! How they got out of the horrible situations they were in. How they felt when the zombies were gone.
I didn't feel any emotional attachment to any of the characters. That's the worst part, I think. Emotional attachment is what makes someone want to keep reading. I kept reading because I promised someone I knew that I'd finish it. Not because I loved the book.
I liked the book. I didn't love it. It's a decent book, but it's not good or great. Did it scare me? Occasionally, a shudder went down my spine at the descriptors and the behaviors of the living dead. But was I traumatized or worried at the outbreak of a zombie war? Not really.
There's not much to say about World War Z. I have a feeling the movie will be more coherent and impressive than the novel. I'm trying to get into the zombie craze, but this didn't help encourage me in doing so. Read it if you wish; there are thousands upon millions of others who loved it. I just wasn't one of them. It wasn't my cup of tea...or hunk of flesh...


  1. Yea, I've heard very different things about this book.

  2. I didn't realise the film was made from a book. I always feel a little disappointed - there seem to be less and less original films being made. I have an old-fashioned view that there's an optimum medium for the story you want to tell.

    1. On the bright side (?), movies are notorious for sharply deviating from the books they're "inspired by" ... to the point where it's like all they really pulled from the book are a few names and a main plot point or two, and you're like, "You essentially made an original movie, guys; did you really need to buy the book's film rights for this?"

    2. Also, since the movie seems to revolve around only one person, it's automatically about ten times more original. Like Danielle said, it just takes a plot point or two to be called a movie by the name of the book. *Shrugs*