World War Z by Max Brooks
Zombie mythos is at an all-time high, as evidenced by the popular The Walking Dead graphic novels and television show, Zombieland and just about every other incarnation imaginable. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Max Brooks’ popular first-person, biographical account of the Zombie War has become a classic, must-read zombie novel.
The reprint cover boasts “soon to be a major motion picture” and, hopefully, the movie will stay true to the book (although that is so rarely the case).
The premise of World War Z is this: The 10-year nightmare that soon became known as the Zombie War nearly eradicated humanity. Max Brooks, a federal employee charged with compiling a report that detailed the events of the war, soon discovers the United Nations Postwar Commission failed to truly capture the horrors, loss and bravery of the war and those who survived.
Brooks, armed with a notebook and recorder, travels across the United States and throughout the world to capture first-person accounts of those who fought in the war. His subjects range from military brass to political figures to moms and dads who did their best to save their families from the mobs of the undead that took over the world of the living.
Fresh on the heels of a tenuous victory over the zombie army, Brooks recounts harrowing tales of combat, unspeakable loss and bravery from the unlikeliest heroes.
World War Z is an interesting take on the zombie mythos. It’s engaging, thoughtful and stands out from many of the other zombie stories out there. The personal recollections from characters who could be a neighbor of family member lend it a believability that’s rare in the undead genre. It’s almost easy to forget that this is a fictional account of an impossible reality.
However, that being said, the story suffered a little because of thinly veiled pop culture and political references – Paris Hilton, Bush, Obama, television shows, etc. It’s always dicey to dated references in a book, because eventually, those examples become outdated and ultimately detract from the story. Brooks could have foregone those and had a stronger story.
The first-person narratives could have been tied together a bit more to create a stronger continuity. At times, it felt like the book was left hanging, especially at the end.
Aside from those criticisms, World War Z was an enjoyable and it’d be great if a sequel was written, specifically one that delved into the stories Brooks left untold.