World War Z

Author: Max Brooks
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The second zombie book from Max Brooks breaks all the rules.  It’s not a novel, it’s not a sequel, and it really doesn’t read like a piece of fiction.  That’s what makes this book great – it’s a genre redefining work that changes the perspective of the “zombie apocalypse” narrative.

The book follows a UN investigator as he interviews various survivors of “World War Z” ten years after the official end of the war.  The interviews come from people around the world, and shed light on how different cultures dealt with the rise of the living dead.  The interviews are “bite size”, just long enough to get you sucked in without being so long that they feel false or artificial.  The stories read very realistically, and Brooks has a knack for bringing a unique voice to each character.

Written in a narrative fashion, there’s not a whole lot of dialog and instead the book reads like it’s meant to, as a UN report on the war.  You can almost feel A&E or the History Channel while reading this, though the book does not provide the sort of narration those channels use in their documentaries.  This is the only thing I missed in the book – I would have liked a bit of “history text” between the interviews.  Dry facts may seem boring, but there were a few times in the book I was struggling to remember what exactly had happened, since it’s all disjointed personal narratives.  Having a bridging road map might have helped.

The horrors of war were brought into clear view in the book, but there were a few places that were glossed over.   Late in the book, mentions of Rebel towns are made, but they are not fully explained, nor is there any information on what the people who inhabited these fortified towns wanted.  They clearly were anti-government, but it would have been nice to know what they stood for, and I think there might have been an opportunity to look at the seedier part of an apocalyptic scenario: did these folks return to slavery?  did they try to institute the usual right-wing political ideology?  did any of it work?  It was too bad Brooks didn’t delve into this, as it might have been fascinating to see towns where “Zack” wasn’t the worst problem.

I have yet to obtain a copy of the audio version of this book, but I’ve been told it’s excellent.

This book is a must have, not just for horror fans but for anyone who wants a good read.

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