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Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

By / January 12, 2013 / no comments

A lot of you probably know that there is a movie coming out called World War Z which stars Brad Pitt amongst others. The movie trailer what from what I’ve see so far is nothing like the book. Wait…yep…I heard you groan, a movie ruining another book. Perhaps, I’m a primary school teacher and ever the optimistic.
The reason why it is completely different to the book is because World War Z is written in a documentary/journalistic/auto-biography style.  WWZ follows a journalist who travels around the world to collect stories 10 years after the war. This was no ordinary war but an outbreak, a pandemic, a global terror. We all know about zombies and perhaps have watched a few zombie flicks. What if zombies weren’t just confined to a building or a specific place but the entire world. What if, to take back the world, you had to kill not hundreds, not thousands, but millions upon millions of zombies. This “journal” is essentially that, a documentation of the war from pre-outbreak to post-war sequencing. WWZ  covers most of the globe, getting stories from military, engineers, civilians; there are stories set in buildings, bunkers, the forest, out at sea and even underground tunnels in Paris! There is quite a lot of research done on the part of Brooks to get colloquialism and lingo down for the different countries he writes about, there are footnotes which helps the reader get through each section without too much head scratching.

Even though each story is no more than 4 pages long, combined, all the recounts we really get how the world reacted. Brooks is able to slowly drip feed us information about Zack (name for zombies in the book). How they are physiologically and what sets them off. Brooks tackles not just what Zack is like but how disaster can bring out the worst in humanity. Many of the stories touches on fear, greedy, self interest, corruption and murder. Yet Brooks makes sure to temper it with the goodness of people. There is faith, sacrifice and heroism. It reminded me of this quote.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”  —Fred Rogers

What I liked about the book was that it was really easy to read. Essentially, it’s like someone is talking to you. So, easy to follow and interesting.

Yeah, it’s interesting, funny that. Brooks at no time bogs you down with zombie facts, he uses the stories that the people are telling you what the zombies can and can’t do. Each different individual story tackles a different aspect of human nature. I was sucked into each story and made me want to know more about those characters and their plight.

However, this is probably also the downfall of this book. I really wanted to know more and it left me with a feeling of wanting (you can say this could be a good thing too). There are many things that are left unexplained, not so much about individuals but more specifically the grand scheme of the war. Also, because it is only tidbits of each individual, I never felt like I had to consume (pun!) the whole book at once.

Do I recommend World War Z? Yes, certainly. I would even recommend it to people who don’t like fantasy or horror or zombies, because this book simply doesn’t fall into any one of those categories. It is a book that makes you think, how many fiction books make you do that?

I’m definitely going to see the movie. Below is the trailer which is about 2.10mins long. It really is different to the book. After the trailer, the video uploader also delves into comparing the book to the movie (without spoilers) and how he is interested in the adaptation too. I’ve heard from others that the audio book is amazing and this youtuber also gives it a plug. I might just have to get it.

About the author

Ben

Blog editor, admin and founder of BestFantasyBooks.comYou'll find me on the BestFantasyBook forums and spending my spare time reading fantasy books and writing lists for this site. In fact, I have no spare time -- running this site IS my spare time!

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