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World War Z: What happens when the dead walk the Earth?
World War Z - Max Brooks
Member Name: The Duke
World War Z - Max Brooks
Advantages: Interesting, thought-provoking take on zombie genre
Disadvantages: A few weak spots (but there aren't many).
Supposedly, the war is over. I mean, technically it is and has been for ten years, but there are still millions of zombies active across the globe and, each year, cleanup crews venture far and wide, mopping up the infestation where they can. Billions are (un)dead and each survivor has their own story...
Author Max Brooks writes from the perspective of an inspector in a United Nations Post-War Commission who has been given permission by his superiors to write a book documenting the war (which is set in the near future) because the official report was heavily censored.
As such, the novel is told from a series of viewpoints by people who were active during the conflict, generally in chronological order (so we start with the suspected outbreak in China and the story behind patient zero) and describes how the zombies spread across the globe and how each country adapts to deal with the new menace (or not in some cases). Some of these oral accounts come from people instrumental in the struggle for their respective countries; others are simply tales of survival.
The book wins on many levels for me. I like that it's a global view, rather than the United States-centric view that's often portrayed in other books and films. The multi-person oral history aspect really does give it an air of believability despite the subject matter and there are just so many ideas out there to consider including the ramifications of a person somehow getting transplanted with infected organs. Well, they become zombies apparently. Or what happens when zombies enter the sea? They continue to be active and wander the ocean floors, eating the sea life and occasionally appearing on the beaches. Scarier still, what happens to society when it comes under attack from such an unstoppable force? Well, according to Brooks, it shows a side that not everyone would be pleased to see.
I was surprised at how readable the book was. While I liked the ideas behind WWZ, I had assumed that the story would be fragmented and hard to get involved with because of the number of characters/stories within the book and the jumping around that would occur in order to be able to tell the tales.
Thankfully, this was not the case. There are a large number of characters, but I found that there was little confusion as each character has their own 'voice'. There are a huge number of ideas put forward within the book, not solely to do with the zombie myth, but the impact of such an uprising across the world. Each story is complete within itself. While there is a film adaptation in the works, WWZ would work equally as well as a television series, with each episode being one of these self-contained oral accounts.
I wouldn't consider myself to be a huge fan of the zombie horror genre, but I really enjoyed this interpretation of the zombie genre and was hugely impressed with the scope of the story-telling and the amount of ideas contained within it. Usually, I can pick and choose the bits I liked best, but I thought there were very few weak portions throughout the whole story, with the one exception of the blind Japanese man, and even then it's not bad per se, just the weakest story.
For those interested in something a little bit different, this is a definite recommendation.
Summary: An oral history of the zombie war.