Tuesday, April 7, 2015

"World War Z" by Max Brooks

I read World War Z when it first came out, then I went and saw the movie when it came out. Then I saw the audiobook at the library and listened to it at work with headphones on.

Summary: This book takes place about a decade after the zombie war has ended and humanity is rebuilding. Max Brooks decides to tour the globe and interview dozens of people to hear their personal stories from the war. He interviews scientists, soldiers, refugees, profiteers, war criminals and people who don't fit into a category, but were just trying to get through it all. Each person tells their story as they remember it happening and Max Brooks asks questions to try and flesh out the context or to pin down the truth. Certain historical events are assumed to have happened between right now and the first battle of the zombie war, which are hinted at throughout the book.

The interviews are organized into several sections based on the timeline of the war and context of the intended audience (which is American). There is a story for everything, as the incredibly complex unfolding of the war is revealed in small doses. By the end, it all hangs together as a clean whole.

As this is the audiobook, I must point out a few things. First, there are three editions, the abridged edition which came first, the Lost Files which was sold as a supplement to the abridged and a complete edition which has both. Second, this is not your traditional audiobook. This is closer to a radio play where Max Brooks plays the Interviewer and dozens of different actors play the variety of interviewees. Some highlights for the geek in me were Alan Alda, Mark Hamill, Nathan Fillion & Simon Pegg. All the readers did a fantastic job.

Also, I feel a certain obligation to say something about the movie World War Z. The movie is fun, I own it and I've watched it a few times. Definitely see it. But the movie has nothing to do with the book. There is no overlap beyond the fact that both stories deal with a global zombie infestation. As far as I can tell, no characters from the book are in the film, nor any unique story elements. Basically, Hollywood had a cool zombie movie and bought the rights to the name World War Z. Still, good movie.

What I Liked: I love how the story is presented, through interviews. Each person has a chance to recollect the events and string them together into a meaningful narrative, without having to make it fit into the bigger picture. And yet, they do all fit together quite well. Also, the grand story is a perfect balance of realistic despair, as humanity suffers massive losses to infection, and genuine triumph as humanity regains its footing to push back against the horde. It is both a story of failure and redemption on a global scale. 

What I Didn't Like: Obviously, I wish there were more interviews.

Rating: Must Read.

Also Read by this Author: Zombie Survival Guide

Reviewed by: Nick

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