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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

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The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospit The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years. Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War. Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, "By excluding the human factor, aren't we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn't the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as 'the living dead'?" Note: Some of the numerical and factual material contained in this edition was previously published under the auspices of the United Nations Postwar Commission.


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The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospit The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years. Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War. Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, "By excluding the human factor, aren't we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn't the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as 'the living dead'?" Note: Some of the numerical and factual material contained in this edition was previously published under the auspices of the United Nations Postwar Commission.

30 review for World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    This book was initially recommended to me by several people in the office and since I love zombies and apocalyptic themes, well, I was pretty excited. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations and I struggled to finish it. (I'm going to write this review under the assumption that the reader has some inkling about the story and how it's constructed.) There are two issues that killed it for me. Firstly, most of the characters had the same--or similar--voice. Of course this is partly to d This book was initially recommended to me by several people in the office and since I love zombies and apocalyptic themes, well, I was pretty excited. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations and I struggled to finish it. (I'm going to write this review under the assumption that the reader has some inkling about the story and how it's constructed.) There are two issues that killed it for me. Firstly, most of the characters had the same--or similar--voice. Of course this is partly to do with the fact that the voices all originate from the mind of one individual, the author. Also, the more journalistic/interview approach to constructing the narrative limits how much color the author can impart on any given character. Q and A is inherently dry, no matter how exciting the events described are intended to be. This is a minor gripe, though, and one that can be lived with. A more serious complaint, however, is that this book can be seen as completely lacking any and all dramatic tension that a person (or, me) expects from a survival horror-themed story. The primary draw--the zombie war and how humanity survived--is such a compelling hook, but it's told...by the people who survived. As in, past tense, as in we are left with their impressions of things that happened to them. Basically, then, the story devolves into an excercise in basic exposition: "And then this happened, and then that happened." And so the author is free to weave his story without any pesky things like character development, story arcs, plotting, and personal details that are shown and not told. It seems to me like an extraordinarily easy (maybe even lazy) way to tell a story. One other minor point: For me, accounts of survival when the victims are real have meaning that allows them to transcend the limitations described above. WW2 Holocaust survivors' accounts, for example, can take your breath away. The difference is, of course, that they were real events that happened to real people. Since all the classic storytelling elements are dispensed with, we're basically left with the author's views on our current world, particularly and naturally, the wars and our culture(s). However, it's my view that there are dozens of books written about these subjects already; books that haven't needed to sex the discussion up with a horde of shambling undead. So, in summary, if I'm going to read an apocalyptic recounting of the end of civilization as we know it, I want to read about people in real time, struggling to survive, not being told how people surivived after it was over. (I realize, though, that it's all a matter of taste, as I know half a dozen people whose views I respect that absolutely loved this book.) :D

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    (My full review of this book is longer than Goodreads' word-count limitations; find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com].) Anytime I hear of some funny, gimmicky book suddenly becoming popular among the hipster set, I always squint my eyes and brace myself for the worst; because usually when it comes to such books, the worst is all you can expect to find, an endless series of fluffy pop-culture pieces designed specifically for crafty point-of-pur (My full review of this book is longer than Goodreads' word-count limitations; find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com].) Anytime I hear of some funny, gimmicky book suddenly becoming popular among the hipster set, I always squint my eyes and brace myself for the worst; because usually when it comes to such books, the worst is all you can expect to find, an endless series of fluffy pop-culture pieces designed specifically for crafty point-of-purchase display at your favorite corporate superstore, and then a year later to be forgotten by society altogether. And so it's been in the last six months as I've heard more and more about this book World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, which supposedly is a hilarious "actual" oral history about an apocalyptic war with the undead that supposedly almost wiped out the human race as we know it; even worse, that it had been inspired by an actual gimmicky point-of-purchase humor book, the dreadful Zombie Survival Guide from a few years ago which had been published specifically and only to make a quick buck off the "overly specific survival guide" craze of the early 2000s. And even worse than all this, the author of both is Max Brooks, as in the son of comedy legend Mel Brooks; and if the son of a comedy legend is trawling the literary gutters of gimmicky point-of-purchase humor books, the chances usually are likely that they have nothing of particular interest to say. So what a surprise, then, to read the book myself this month, and realize that it's not a gimmicky throwaway humor book at all, but rather a serious and astute look at the next 50 years of global politics, using a zombie outbreak as a metaphorical stand-in for any of the pervasive challenges facing us as an international culture these days (terrorism, global warming, disease, natural disasters), showing with the precision of a policy analyst just how profoundly the old way of doing things is set to fail in the near future when some of these challenges finally become crises. It is in fact an astoundingly intelligent book, as "real" as any essay by Seth Godin or Malcolm Gladwell, basically imagining the debacle of New Orleans multiplied by a million, then imagining what would happen if the Bushists were to react to such a thing in the same way; and even more astounding, Brooks posits that maybe the real key to these future challenges lies with the citizens of third-world countries, in that they are open to greater and faster adaptability than any fat, lazy, middle-class American or European ever could be. Oh yeah, and it's got face-eating zombies too. Did I mention the face-eating zombies? Because that's the thing to always remember, that this comes from an author who has spent nearly his entire life in the world of comedy and gimmicky projects, not only from family connections but also his own job as a staff writer at Saturday Night Live from 2001 to '03; that no matter how smart World War Z gets (and it gets awfully smart at points), it is still ultimately a fake oral history of an apocalyptic zombie war that supposedly takes place just five or ten years from now, starting as these messes often do as a series of isolated outbreaks in remote third-world villages. And in fact this is where Brooks first starts getting his political digs in, right from the first page of the manuscript itself, by using the initial spread of the zombie virus to comment on the way such past epidemics like HIV have been dealt with by the corrupt old white males who used to be in charge of things; basically, by ignoring the issue as long as it wasn't affecting fellow white males, then only paying attention after it's become an unstoppable epidemic. In Brooks' world, just like the real one of pre-9/11 intelligence-gathering, we see that a few government smarties from around the world really were able to catch the implications of this mysterious new virus while it was still theoretically controllable; just that their memos and papers went ignored for political reasons by those actually in charge, as well as getting lost in the vast bureaucratic shuffle that the Cold War has created in the Western military-industrial complex. That's probably the most pleasurable part of the first half, to tell you the truth, and by "pleasurable" I mean "witty and humorous in a bleak, horrifying, schauenfreude kind of way" -- of watching the virus become more and more of a threat, of watching entire cities start to go under because of the zombie epidemic, then watching Brooks paint an extremely thinly-veiled portrait of how the Bush administration would deal with such a situation, and by extension any government ruled by a small cabal of backwards, power-hungry religious fundamentalists. And in this, then, World War Z suddenly shifts from a critique about AIDS to a critique about Iraq, showing how in both situations (the Middle East and zombies, that is) the real priority of the people currently in charge is to justify all the trillions of dollars spent at traditional weapon manufacturing companies under the old Cold-War system (companies, by the way, where all the people in charge have lucrative executive jobs when they're not being the people in charge), leading to such ridiculous situations as a full-on tank and aircraft charge mostly for the benefit of the lapdog press outlets who are there covering the "first grand assault." In Iraq, unfortunately, we found that a billion dollars in tanks still can't stop a teenage girl with a bomb strapped to her chest; and metaphorically that might be the most chilling scene in the entirety of World War Z as well, the press-friendly "zombie response" set up by the Bush-led government in New York's Yonkers neighborhood, done not for good strategic reasons but rather to show off the billions of dollars in weapons the government had recently acquired, leading to a virtual slaughter of all the soldiers and journalists there by the chaotic zombie hoard that eventually arrives. This, then, gets us into the first futuristic posit of Brooks in the novel to not have actually happened in real life yet -- the "Great Panic," that is, when the vast majority of humans suddenly lose faith in whatever government was formerly running their section of the world, and where mass anarchy and chaos leads to the accidental and human-on-human deaths of several hundreds of millions of more people. And again, by detailing a fictional tragedy like a global zombie epidemic, and the complete failure of a Bush-type administration to adequately respond to it, Brooks is eerily predicting here such real situations like last week's complete meltdown of Bear Stearns (the fifth largest investment bank in the entire United States), leading many to start wondering for the first time what exactly would happen if the US dollar itself was to experience the same kind of whirlwind collapse, a collapse that happens so fast (in a single business day in the case of Bear Stearns) that no one in the endless red tape of the government itself has time to actually respond to it? Brooks' answer here is roughly the same one Cormac McCarthy proposed in last year's Pulitzer-winning The Road; chaos, bloodshed, violence, inhumanity, an everyone-for-themselves mentality from the very people we trusted to lead us in such times of crisis. Make no mistake, this is a damning and devastating critique of the corrupt conservatives currently in charge of things; a book that uses the detritus of popular culture to masquerade as a funny and gross book about zombies, but like the best fantastical literature in history is in fact a prescient look at our current society. It's unbelievable, in fact, how entertaining and engrossing this novel is throughout its middle, given how this is usually the part of any book that is the slowest and least interesting; here Brooks uses the naturally slow middle of his own story to make the majority of his political points, and to get into a really wonky side of global politics that is sure to satisfy all you hardcore policy junkies (as well as military fetishists). Because that's the final thing important to understand about World War Z, is that it's a novel with a truly global scope; Brooks here takes on not only what such a zombie epidemic would do to our familiar US of A, but also how such an epidemic would spread in the village-centric rural areas of southeast Asia, the infrastructure-poor wastelands of Russia and more, and especially how each society fights the epidemic in slightly different ways, some with more success than others. For example, Brooks posits that in such places as India, population density is just too high to do much of any good; in his fictional world history, such countries are basically decimated by such a catastrophe, with there basically being few humans even left in India by the time everything is over. Other countries, though, used to picking up as a nation and fleeing for other lands, survive the zombie outbreaks quite well; those who are already used to being refugees, for example, see not too much of a difference in their usual lifestyle from this latest turn in events, ironically making them the societies most suited for survival in such a world. (This is opposed to all the clueless middle-class Americans in the novel, for example, who in a panic make for the wilds of northern Canada, in the blind hope that the winter weather will freeze the zombies into non-action; although that turns out to be true, poor planning unfortunately results in the deaths of tens of millions of people anyway, from hypothermia and starvation and plain ol' mass-murder.) And this is ultimately what I mean by this book being such a politically astute one; because as...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Penny

    I know what you're thinking. "Five stars for this book? Why???" If you've been following my reviews then you know I tend to stress over how many stars to give a book, and I'm not one to hand out five-star ratings willy-nilly. I'm usually quite cautious when it comes to handing out that all-important fifth star. I'm stingy. That being said, every once in a while a book, that may or may not be amazing, comes along and wows me. And now you're (probably) thinking: "But Penny, it's a book about zombi I know what you're thinking. "Five stars for this book? Why???" If you've been following my reviews then you know I tend to stress over how many stars to give a book, and I'm not one to hand out five-star ratings willy-nilly. I'm usually quite cautious when it comes to handing out that all-important fifth star. I'm stingy. That being said, every once in a while a book, that may or may not be amazing, comes along and wows me. And now you're (probably) thinking: "But Penny, it's a book about zombies. Zombies! Disgusting rotting corpses that stumble around, looking to sink their teeth into any living thing. How--how could that sort of thing wow you? Are you, like, smoking crack???" First things first: No--I'm not smoking crack. Everyone knows crack is cheap--I much prefer the real thing*. Now that I've cleared that up, lets move on, shall we? So. World War Z. I really enjoyed it, which was a surprise because I didn't think I would. This book is not something I would've picked up on my own. Had it not been for a couple of really nice Barnes & Noble employees who practically shoved this book in my hands while gushing about its supreme awesomeness, I definitely wouldn't have purchased it. But since they didn't have the book I was looking for (Storm Front by Jim Butcher), and since I'd already been bitten by the zombie bug over a year ago (The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan) I took a chance and purchased this book. Despite the fact that Max Brooks used to write for SNL, and also happens to be Mel Brooks son, this book isn't funny, nor is it meant to be. Max Brooks tells this story through a series of interviews given by survivors of The Great Panic, or World War Z (the Z stands for Zombie, in case you didn't, you know, put two and two together...). The interviewees come from different parts of the world and they tell their accounts of what happened to them, what they thought when they first heard of what was first referred to as "African Rabies"; what happened when the Great Panic started in their part of the world. A lot of these stories are sad and/or terrifying, but mostly I found them incredibly intriguing. Before I go on I need to add that I totally geek-out over documentaries, and this book--were it in movie form--would be a documentary. I'm one that appreciates the method Max Brooks uses to tell this story. To me the beginning of this book has more to do with the way things are done in this world--politics wise--than anything else. Of course, as the book goes on and more and more governments are collapsing due to the fact that zombies are basically taking over the world, we get a good look at human nature during times of crisis. I found the whole thing fascinating.. Hardcore zombie lovers need to know that this isn't a book that follows one set of characters, though some interviews have been broken up, and so a few characters are featured in this book more than once. Rather it is one story told by several different people. There is continuity in the order in which the stories are told to us, and sometimes one survivor's account answers a question that was raised by another survivor. All that said, there is quite a bit of zombie slaying action. Lots of blood and guts and gore. We get to learn how best to stop a zombie--and let me assure you, there are many ways. We also learn about newest in improvised zombie killing weaponry and effective warfare techniques to decimate a raging-out-of-control zombie population. But seriously, I loved reading it, everything in this whole entire book. Me. A church-going mother of three. Although, yeah, I'm not your typical church-going mother of three. But still... P.S. I'd have finished this book a long time ago had it not been for my husband, who kept stealing this book away from me so he could read it too. He's really liking it, btw. UPDATE 11/10/12: About a year ago I bought the audiobook from Audible only to discover, after purchasing, that it was the abridged version. I soon found out that was all they had to offer which was quite disappointing because some of my favorite eyewitness accounts from the book were not included. I've since heard from the World War Z's Facebook page that they are going to make an unabridged version. I am unaware of when it will be available for purchase. That said, I did end up liking the (abridged) audiobook well enough. The performances are pretty top notch. *To those who have zero sense of humor, it must be said: I'm kidding, I don't do any drugs, and you need to chill.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kat Kennedy

    At this current moment in time my husband and I do not actually have a working will. We are the legal definition of intestate. We have not yet made any preparations for our death and we only have life insurance/house insurance because his mother organized the whole damn thing (come to mention it she is also the reason we have electricity, water and a phone line - the internet though was all us because we'd die without it.) So believe me when I say that we don't organize... anything. Except our zo At this current moment in time my husband and I do not actually have a working will. We are the legal definition of intestate. We have not yet made any preparations for our death and we only have life insurance/house insurance because his mother organized the whole damn thing (come to mention it she is also the reason we have electricity, water and a phone line - the internet though was all us because we'd die without it.) So believe me when I say that we don't organize... anything. Except our zombie kit. That's right. We have a zombie kit. Should zombies suddenly strike while I type out this review we would be able to take our son and get in our car and drive away without a backward glance. Everything we need is in the boot of the car. If we're holed up inside the house we have our second zombie kit to live off of and use to defend ourselves. We have several plans in place as to where to go, what to do if we're separated at time of crisis, who we're taking with us, how we'll stay in contact etc. Some may call his paranoia. Some may call this stupidity. Do you know what I call these naysayers? Zombie food. It is this obsessive and weird need to ensure survival during a zombie apocalypse, despite every rational reason to believe that all our efforts are for naught, that has made me the prime candidate and target group of this book. It is not the norm of the zombie genre. In general a zombie movie tends to be about a small group of individuals against the undead hordes looking to floss with intestines. This book is not about a small group of individuals - it is about a large collection of humanity. This book is how HUMANITY would survive and deal with a zombie infestation. It is a collection of small, broken narratives from people all over the world, across many social, economic and political classes. Some of them were amazing, others horrifying. Some were inspirational, others so depressing or introspective that I wondered if there was any hope. I would argue that many of the "voices" from certain nationalities were not really very accurate and didn't really match the cultural region they came from - but I'm lazy. Either you "get" the voice of the narratives or you don't. This book was a fascinating, thoughtful read in a field that I'm personally obsessed with. I could easily understand how those who've never stayed up until three in the morning, drunk off their heads with a group of people yelling that if they head into the city then they're zombie meat (Zombie meat I say! You ridiculous idiots!) probably will find this book a hard read. It's also a difficult read in the sense that you are continually sucked into one story, only to have it end abruptly and shift to another. I kept getting frustrated and wanting to scream, "No! Go back! I want to know what else happened!" but alas. It's like little snap shots from all over the world, except when it comes to several of the snapshots, I'd really rather see the whole picture. Other than that, I loved it. I had a hoot reading it. It gave me plenty of fodder with which to have many drunken debates with my husband, brothers and friends. Much to their disgust...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”The book of war, the one we’ve been writing since one ape slapped another was completely useless in this situation. We had to write a new one from scratch.” With most apocalyptic situations, I think the hardest part to deal with is that there are no wrong decisions or right decisions. There are simply too many variables to consider if your ultimate goal is to survive. The most meticulously planned strategies can still result in failure. You make the best decisions you can and then hope for a bit ”The book of war, the one we’ve been writing since one ape slapped another was completely useless in this situation. We had to write a new one from scratch.” With most apocalyptic situations, I think the hardest part to deal with is that there are no wrong decisions or right decisions. There are simply too many variables to consider if your ultimate goal is to survive. The most meticulously planned strategies can still result in failure. You make the best decisions you can and then hope for a bit of luck. Should we barricade ourselves hoping to be saved, or go North hoping the zombies will eventually become popsicles when winter hits? Are we safer in the underground tunnels of Paris or on a cruise ship or living in the woods by ourselves? Whatever decision you make, you must think long game and short game. The short game, the immediate concerns, involve food, water, and shelter. The short and long game both come into play when trying to figure out how to avoid becoming zombie chow. Once you survive the first wave of contagion, then what? This book is written as an investigative report, collecting all the experiences of survivors from around the world. Different cultures reacted differently to the apocalypse. Some were more successful than others. The learning curve, unfortunately, has to be short with apocalyptic situations, especially if the hope is to actually salvage civilisation. The lights go out, and many of the comforts we’ve become accustomed to are gone instantly, and the possessions that have come to define us, such as electronic devices, suddenly become useless. If the whole idea of a zombie apocalypse is too wild a concept for you to grasp, you might be relieved that for the most part the zombies are really just part of the background. What Max Brooks is really dealing with goes well beyond the concept of zombies and focuses more on how people survived the collapse of civilisation. He could have used microbes or conventional war or a devastating meteorite hitting the earth or any of the other fascinating concepts that people have come up with as ways to end the world. It reads like books of a similar nature that collect the stories of people who survived World War Two. The scope is huge and impressive. Brooks addresses aspects about a zombie apocalypse that I have never thought about before. Quislings ”Yeah, you know, the people that went nutballs and started acting like zombies.” Ok, I’ve read a handful of zombie books, not enough to make myself an expert, but certainly enough to have some background on the lore of a zombie apocalypse. WTH? Now Brooks didn’t just make this term up. It is a term from WW2. ”A quisling is a person who collaborates with an enemy occupying force. The word originates from the Norwegian war-time leader Vidkun Quisling, who headed a domestic Nazi collaborationist regime during the Second World War.” The minds of survivors, I’m sure, snapped in all kinds of strange and wonderful and terrifying ways, but unfortunately pretending to be a zombie was a quick way to find yourself...well...dead. First, any reasonably sane human who notices you lurching toward them, performing your very best mimicry of the undead, will smash your brain. Second, you don’t blend with the zombies. They know you are alive. You become a zombie delight! People also just went to sleep perfectly healthy and didn’t wake up. This was called ADS, short for Asymptomatic Demise Syndrome or Apocalyptic Despair Syndrome. ”It killed as many people in those early stalemate months as hunger, disease, interhuman violence, or the living dead.” I’ve heard of things like this happening to people who experience long term stress situations. The body just reaches a point where the brain decides to just shut down the power to the spacecraft and let the mind drift away. RIP People will put up with a lot as long as there is hope that someday their situation will improve. Babies die when they are not held. People die when things become hopeless. Brooks also told stories about zombies underwater. WTH? Yeah, people reanimated as the living dead on ships and eventually managed to fall off the ship in the water. It wasn’t unusual for zombies to just walk out of the water onto beaches or grab divers or attack fishermen in boats. Somehow they are more scary underwater than on land. It gives me the shivers just thinking about it. I’m having a Jaws flashback. During and after WWZ, people had to relearn things that our grandparents and great grandparents knew. A chimney sweep. ”I help keep my neighbors warm.” he said proudly. A cobbler. ”You see those shoes. I made them.” A shepherd. ”That sweater, that’s my sheep’s wool.” A gardener/farmer. ” Like that corn? My garden.” ”That was the upshot of a more localized system. It gave people the opportunity to see the fruits of their labor, it gave them a sense of individual pride to know they were making a clear, concrete contribution to victory, and it gave me a wonderful feeling that I was part of that. I needed that feeling. It kept me sane for the other part of my job.” The other part of his job?...killing zombies. Several of the survivors talked about how important it was not to think of them as people or of who they were or of who they might have become. They couldn’t see them as people or what they were doing was genocide. This is by far the most serious zombie book I’ve ever read. The stories are compelling. This is a panoramic view of a society in crises. The observations are thoughtful. The writing is convincing. By the end I had the feeling I’d just read a history book, not a speculative zombie apocalyptic book. The book is unfilmable, but the movie industry knew a catchy title when they saw one. They certainly borrowed aspects from the book, but really the movie should be considered a completely different entity. The zombies in Brooks book are the George Romero lurching, yucky living dead. In the movie, they are super charged, fast moving, aggressive, nasty creatures. The virus in the movie is fast acting. Someone bitten is transformed within seconds. In the book, the virus takes much longer to take effect. Did it bother me that the director Marc Forster took such liberties? Not one bite bit. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I was thoroughly entertained. I certainly intend to watch the movie again. So read the book to discover new depths to an overly exploited genre, and watch the movie to experience a whirlwind of fear and dread. Just a suggestion, have someone else hold the popcorn. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca DeLaTorre

    I just can't get on this bandwagon. The pseudo-government reports the book is written in handicap it in many ways. First, there are no protagonists to grow with, no story arc, no climax, etc. You know what's going to happen from day one--there was a world crisis involving zombies and at least some people live to tell the tale. The sure knowledge of the outcome deflates any tension and book feels flacid. The pseudo-scientific jargon is a poor imitation (my sister, a nurse, tossed aside Brooks' o I just can't get on this bandwagon. The pseudo-government reports the book is written in handicap it in many ways. First, there are no protagonists to grow with, no story arc, no climax, etc. You know what's going to happen from day one--there was a world crisis involving zombies and at least some people live to tell the tale. The sure knowledge of the outcome deflates any tension and book feels flacid. The pseudo-scientific jargon is a poor imitation (my sister, a nurse, tossed aside Brooks' other Zombie manfesto in disgust within the first few pages and this one fairs no better)and there are far too many emotional pauses and descriptive introductions for what amounts to an addendum to a government study of events. The thing that put me over the edge with this book is the inconsistency--one chapter has a boy with bloody knuckles sliding his hands about in zombie goo and remaining uninfected and in the next chapter there is an expression of gratitutde that no one exposed to detrius from a headshot has open wounds to be infected through. What editor let that get by? On top of that, racial, national stereotypes abound and are crude and unappealing. Brooks is obviously a big fan of Israel, as they are the heroes of the day, even going so far as to selflessly save Palestinian refugees (yeah, right)and remnants of South Africa's apartheid system are given a reprieve due to their pragmatism. Russians are wacky comrades, Chinamen are inscrutable and Americans are cowboys weakened by education and consumerism. Ugh. I won't recommend this book to anyone, even a die hard zombie fan, lest World War Z ruin the genre for them forever.

  7. 5 out of 5

    karen

    this book is about zombies the same way the bible is about god. they are mostly background actors who are the reason other characters do what they do and occasionally they will rarrrr in and kill a bunch of people because they cant help it, but mostly they are an invisible presence, always to be feared but never given a voice. this whole book takes place after the zombies have already destroyed most of the world and is a collection of the testimonials of hundreds (?) of different characters deta this book is about zombies the same way the bible is about god. they are mostly background actors who are the reason other characters do what they do and occasionally they will rarrrr in and kill a bunch of people because they cant help it, but mostly they are an invisible presence, always to be feared but never given a voice. this whole book takes place after the zombies have already destroyed most of the world and is a collection of the testimonials of hundreds (?) of different characters detailing their experiences with the zombie outbreak, and how they have survived. because of this, there arent really any action scenes, or any immediate terror. this book is more about politics and global concerns and human nature and dissatisfaction with the way the government handles natural disasters and (im gonna say it, im gonna say it) the zeitgeist (woohoo) than it is about man-eating corpses. it takes into account so many different aspects of post-zombie experience that i never would have considered like what will the actors do now? and what happens if a zombie gets on board your boat? and how will this affect the rest of the food chain? very multi-faceted, if not what i was expecting. also interesting: the role of castles in a zombie holocaust, and the underground tunnels in paris: unsafe. so for people like alfonso, who do not enter a room without first considering their escape routes should zombies attack, this could give some interesting perspectives about what may have been overlooked, and provide some good food for thought. brains are for thought. brains are zombie food. you do the math. uh-oh - book avalanche... maybe more later... come to my blog!

  8. 5 out of 5

    seak

    Update: See end of review for movie review. I've broken my cardinal rule for reading books just before the movie comes out. This rule I've alluded to is the following - I don't read the book directly before the movie (at least 1 year before or it must be read after or just wait on the movies). The reason for this is that I want to enjoy the story through both mediums and if you read the book just before the movie, you've set yourself up to be a critic - analyzing everything and complaining about Update: See end of review for movie review. I've broken my cardinal rule for reading books just before the movie comes out. This rule I've alluded to is the following - I don't read the book directly before the movie (at least 1 year before or it must be read after or just wait on the movies). The reason for this is that I want to enjoy the story through both mediums and if you read the book just before the movie, you've set yourself up to be a critic - analyzing everything and complaining about every detail that's inevitably left out, but which is more often than not necessary for the medium. If you read the book at least a year before, at least with my shoddy memory, the movie becomes a happy time of fond remembrances. Oh yeah, I remember that part, so cool! Yay! Happy! In this instance, I hear the movie doesn't quite follow the book exactly and what else can that mean than that it's a typical zombie movie. I don't think I've ruined much here. You know, it could have been partly because of all the hype, but I didn't love this book. I didn't hate it either, which makes these the hardest reviews to write, but I think I have a few ideas why World War Z just didn't work all that well for me. I'm studying for the bar at the moment, so you get an extremely well-organized review (at least with headings aplenty) since that's how my brain is thinking at the moment. :) The Plot Doesn't really exist. Yeah, there's a loose series of events that defines the book, or the Zombie War, but it's told through interviews with different survivors from different countries. And they're short too, I even checked this with the book (paper-form). Each interview amounts to a page or two, maybe 5 max. Each tends to discuss a certain important event, which ends up getting referred to by characters later in the book and often mentioned by the one directly following. It's extremely clever and lets you see how well developed this whole idea is. It's extremely clever Max Brooks has literally thought of everything when it comes to a war against zombies. I thought the same in my reading of The Zombie Survival Guide, and it goes just as well here. EVERYTHING! He goes into why tanks are all but useless against hordes of zombies - because you have to take out their heads! Anything else, and they'll still shamble and probably even become more dangerous when you trip over them on the ground. The airforce is just as useless because it's so much money and effort for such a little amount of good. Better spent on a bunch of soldiers with tons of amo. He even goes into better strategies for fighting this war, why the zombies are such a good enemy - because they don't need to be bred, fed, or led as I'll let the book explain. Very clever and not even pretentious about it. Just captivating. And this isn't the only thing I liked although we're getting into the middle ground because I didn't love the audio either. The Audio One of the things that got me excited to listen to this on audio was that it's read by a full cast. That means they're trying REALLY hard and that tends to be a good thing, especially if you don't like one or two of the voices, it's okay, it's only temporary. With just one narrator, that can really kill a book. I mentioned that this is told through many different people in different countries and they have actors like Rob Reiner and John Turturro. Even Max Brooks himself plays the part of the interviewer. (John Turturro from The Big Lebowski) Very cool...until the point of distraction. There are so many different countries represented that the accents started to distract heavily from the story. I found myself pondering why the German guy had such a heavy accent on his "R's" and yet could perfectly pronounce "TH" every time. And this was just the one guy. One of the benefits of a single narrator is that even when they do an accent, it's easier to understand because English is their primary language. The audio's great for the most part, outside of that little niggle about the accents, but one thing I absolutely HATE about it is...it's abridged! Abridged I would probably never forgive myself if I listened to this abridged audio version and never actually read the entire book if I actually thought that mattered. Maybe others are better sleuths than myself, but I can't find a reading of World War Z that's not abridged. At the same, after having read the book, the abridged version seems to do enough justice to the entirety of the novel, what with how it is organized, that it just cuts out a few of the interviews. Normally this is heresy, but I can live with it for this one time only. What I didn't like I think the thing that just makes this an okay to good book for me is that while it's style and organization is unique and highly clever, it also takes away from my ability to care. Without just following one person or a group of people, there's no attachment to any specific person. The Movie (Brad Pitt will make everything better.) After writing the above, I actually do think the movie will make it all better. It seems like it will be following one single person and that's what this reader needs. Movie's set for a June 2013 release. Here's the trailer too. In the end (in the sense of my final feelings not any post-apocalyptic sense) Let's just say, if we ever do get into a Zombie War, you better have a copy of World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide on you. Someone's already gone through the effort of thinking up EVERY situation that can occur, what's effective, what's not and put it down in words. No sense reinventing the wheel. While an entertaining idea and clever execution, these were the exact things that made World War Z a book I could never love. It's worth a read if only to see how in-depth you have not thought about zombies. 3 out of 5 Stars (Recommended with Reservations) The movie, an update I just wanted to make a quick note about the movie. I'm happy to say I called it correctly. I enjoyed the movie much more than the book even though you can really only say the movie is a loose adaptation (if you can even say that). I thought it was much better to visit all those countries through the single character of the UN agent as opposed to interviews of random characters. I felt for him trying to protect his family, I rooted for him when he was in danger, and it had the same effect of exploring the reaction of different cultures (to a much smaller degree of course). And it actually scared me, which for a zombie book, was completely lacking in WWZ.

  9. 4 out of 5

    John Wiswell

    There are reasons to be wary of this book. The title is a little silly, and Max Brooks's Zombie Survival Guide was tongue in cheek. Hell, he's the son of legendary comedy director Mel Brooks. And zombies are creatures that gained popularity thanks to film, which is contrary to the nature of most good creatures. Vampires, ghosts, wizards, witches, dragons, orcs, goblins, angels, werewolves and even Frankenstein's undead abomination came from literature first, and entered film later. Film seldom c There are reasons to be wary of this book. The title is a little silly, and Max Brooks's Zombie Survival Guide was tongue in cheek. Hell, he's the son of legendary comedy director Mel Brooks. And zombies are creatures that gained popularity thanks to film, which is contrary to the nature of most good creatures. Vampires, ghosts, wizards, witches, dragons, orcs, goblins, angels, werewolves and even Frankenstein's undead abomination came from literature first, and entered film later. Film seldom contributes originality to prose. Fortunately Max Brooks pulled off a minor miracle in adapting the largely theatrical terror into the written word, by use of the literary apocalypse convention and oral stories. Our familiarity with the outlines of a zombie outbreak (or any plague outbreak) from so many films helps fill in the gaps between his various storytellers' accounts. Brooks has a remarkable sense of voice, and places the various interviewees well, such that they sound all the more distinct in contrast to the preceeding and following speaker. We get a lot of interesting subjects, from the country doctor in China who treated the first "bite," to a hitman hired to protect a millionaire mogul, to a blind man who somehow managed to survive in the most infested parts of Japan - Hiroshima. Thus we also get a total sense of the rise and fall of the outbreak, with each arc illustrated by brilliant personal narratives of "true" stories from those periods that give us a sense of not just the plot, but how culture changed in this fictional earth. The narrative is unified by the interviewer who visits them and directs parts of their story, but only enough so that we can both enjoy the overarching plot and the survivors' stories. Like the best science fiction the outlandish premise allows us to get a fresh view of real human issues. Brooks approaches such issues on multiple levels, from simple human interests like base selfishness and how we act in desperation, to political crises, such as early on in the book when the Israelis and Palestinians blame each other for the plague, and even claim it is a hoax perpetrated by their enemies. Many of the characters are inspired by people from real life, like Howard Dean, Karl Rove and Nelson Mandela - but rather than coming off as cheesy, they lend an air of authenticity to the tale. There is just enough real tension, both base and topical, to lend it the right aura for a great exercise in modern fantasy/sci fi - it's easily one of the best fantasy/sci fi books set in the modern world I've read in quite some time. The quality of Brooks's book was totally unexpected. This was supposed to be a spin-off from an impulse-buy. But by the time you finish World War Z I think you'll hope along with me that this, his first work of fiction, won't be his last.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alex Duncan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is not a novel. You learn very little about the characters (even the narrator) and cannot follow them from story to story. There's no common thread, no arc, etc. It's a hodgepodge. For many of you, this is all you need to know about this book. If you're looking for a great zombie NOVEL, my favorite is Cryonic: A Zombie Novel I suppose there are parallels between the book and the movie in the sense that both are disjointed. It's too big a story to tell and to be done properly Brooks shoul This book is not a novel. You learn very little about the characters (even the narrator) and cannot follow them from story to story. There's no common thread, no arc, etc. It's a hodgepodge. For many of you, this is all you need to know about this book. If you're looking for a great zombie NOVEL, my favorite is Cryonic: A Zombie Novel I suppose there are parallels between the book and the movie in the sense that both are disjointed. It's too big a story to tell and to be done properly Brooks should have written a door stopper of a novel. That said, he did piece together an interesting scenario: a world where humans have fought back against the zombies and won. This aspect is shown at the end of the film, as they elude to the inevitable sequel, and it's actually the most interesting part of the book, that is: - how did they fight and how'd they win - what challenges did they face - in what ways were they no match for the zombies That third bullet is an aspect I have the most difficulty with as there's so much of "bombs didn't work on the zombies" type of statements from those the narrators interviewed. Call me crazy, but if you drop a big 'ole bomb on a zombie hord there aren't going to be many "walking" dead around after that. I suppose this book's format will appeal to some people, as many seem to be OK with what he's done, but it's such a huge disappointment when you were expecting a novel and don't get one. The book actually has a decent start with the story of patient zero and the images of zombies grabbing ankles from beneath the depths of a flooded city, but it goes downhill quickly from there. It's really a chore to read because the stories are so short that they don't allow you to connect with the characters. I have a feeling if Brooks hadn't had so much success with his Zombie Survival Guide that publishers would have turned their nose up at the structure of this book and made him rewrite it. At the same time, Brooks and his publisher have made quit a bit of coin on this one so who can blame them? Some stories provide enough detail to suck you in and get good (that is just before the end on you abruptly), but others are what I call Brooks' bastards because he gives them so little attention you wonder why they are in there at all. There's also one story that despite being long is incredibly boring about a stolen Chinese submarine that takes up enough pages to account for several other stories. Definitely an err in judgment there. With no one to root for and no characters to follow, you'll find yourself not caring whether you open the book back up or not. To me, this is the ultimate sin any book can commit. To call this the best zombie book ever written, etc. etc. is so far off the mark I can't even tell you. If any of what I'm saying is speaking to you I wouldn't spend your money on the book as it will surely disappoint.

  11. 4 out of 5

    mark monday

    On the menu tonight: WORLD WAR Z Amuse Bouche Our rich Tartare à la Homo Sapien will astonish you with its hauntingly familiar flavors, its bright and vivid colors, and the truly gamey taste of terror, tears, and trauma. Fresh kill will never appear so carefully arranged and presented: prepare yourself for a buffet that appeases both the palate and the intellect. Appetizer A surprisingly hearty summer soup: tantalizing hints of summer flavors frozen solid, then slowly re-animated to surprise the u On the menu tonight: WORLD WAR Z Amuse Bouche Our rich Tartare à la Homo Sapien will astonish you with its hauntingly familiar flavors, its bright and vivid colors, and the truly gamey taste of terror, tears, and trauma. Fresh kill will never appear so carefully arranged and presented: prepare yourself for a buffet that appeases both the palate and the intellect. Appetizer A surprisingly hearty summer soup: tantalizing hints of summer flavors frozen solid, then slowly re-animated to surprise the unwary diner. You will literally gasp in amazement as the flavors you thought had come and passed during the colder months rise again to challenge your taste buds! The stew contains a veritable global village of ingredients: you will taste the inscrutable flavors of the mysterious Orient, the refined and subtle tastes of English manor and European castle, the bold and ruthless tang of Mother Russia, and at its core, the zesty essence of woodsy North Americana will serve to keep this dish firmly anchored in the classic Western tradition. This bold starter will act as a bullet straight into your palate’s head! Entrée One could perhaps assume that a multi-course, zombified meal will be centered around a choice cut of rare beef steak; our menu will sorely disappoint such traditional diners. Instead we offer as the centerpiece of our prix fixe meal an array of delights that appease not the base emotional senses, but the higher appetites of the intellect! Never fear, diner, your hunger will be truly satiated – but only if you are able to cast aside your yearnings for an old fashioned cheeseburger and partake in a less sensual but perhaps more fulfilling menu. To that end, we offer a buffet of international flavors: taste the crusty unleavened bread of walled Israel, savor the rainbow flavors of a South African duo of rib and grain, relish the fatty riches of Canadian poutine (we understand that Americans will often flee north simply to indulge in this dish!), enjoy a classic sampling of melancholy Japanese swordfish... the world is yours to consume, in a carefully planned and constructed rejoinder that laughs in the face of undead chaos, and shouts: I Am the Decider! Dessert For our last dish, we offer you this stunning plate: a downed, half-mad pilot, communicating with phantoms as she hurtles through dense bog and over abandoned freeway, bravely resisting the hungry hands and teeth of the undead! Wine Pairing We are proud to offer a new vintage “Max Brooks”, heretofore enjoyed only by ironic survivalists, now available to the world at large.

  12. 5 out of 5

    unknown

    ME JUST SIMPLE ZOMBIE BUT NO UNDERSTAND WHY LIVING SO PREJUDICED AGAINST DEAD TOLERATE SUCH HATEFUL BOOK BOOK PRESENT TOTAL ONE-SIDED CASE OF FAKE WAR MAN VERSUS ZOMBIES PORTRAYS ZOMBIES AS MINDLESS AND HAS NO COMPASSION FOR FEELINGS HOPES DREAMS DESIRES OF RECENTLY ALIVE LIKE SMELL THE PRETTY FLOWERS ON GRAVE AND WHERE DID LEG GO USED TO HAVE TWO AND WHAT DOES BRAIN TASTE LIKE SO SUE ME AM CURIOUS ANYWAY BOOK GOES AROUND WORLD SHOWING MAN FIGHT ZOMBIES AND ALL TIMES MAN EITHER KILL ZOMBIE WITH ME JUST SIMPLE ZOMBIE BUT NO UNDERSTAND WHY LIVING SO PREJUDICED AGAINST DEAD TOLERATE SUCH HATEFUL BOOK BOOK PRESENT TOTAL ONE-SIDED CASE OF FAKE WAR MAN VERSUS ZOMBIES PORTRAYS ZOMBIES AS MINDLESS AND HAS NO COMPASSION FOR FEELINGS HOPES DREAMS DESIRES OF RECENTLY ALIVE LIKE SMELL THE PRETTY FLOWERS ON GRAVE AND WHERE DID LEG GO USED TO HAVE TWO AND WHAT DOES BRAIN TASTE LIKE SO SUE ME AM CURIOUS ANYWAY BOOK GOES AROUND WORLD SHOWING MAN FIGHT ZOMBIES AND ALL TIMES MAN EITHER KILL ZOMBIE WITH RELISH OR ZOMBIE EAT MAN WITH RELISH HA HA SMALL JOKE BUT SERIOUSLY SEEM RACIST THAT AUTHOR NO THINK MAN AND ZOMBIE CAN LIVE PEACE LIKE WHY NOT GIVE ZOMBIE JUST SMALL TASTE OF HUMAN AND ALL GO ABOUT BUSINESS BUT NO MUST BE KILL KILL KILL HUMAN SO SENSITIVE BITE HEAD ONE TIME AND THINK WANT EAT NOTHING BUT BRAINS NEWSFLASH BRAINS NOT ALL THAT TASTY CONCLUSION WHY OK TO MAKE WAR WITH ZOMBIES ZOMBIES NOT EXACTLY NAZIS EXCEPT ONE TIME

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    Never judge a book by its cover, especially if its cover looks too good to be true - I learned that the hard way after spending money on a new copy of World War Z. The title "World War Z" was cool as heck, the cover had a decayed, vintage kind of look and it said it was about zombies, and since I was a fan of Romero's Living Dead film trilogy, I figured this could be a really exciting book. Big mistake. World War Z was mostly just ranting and rambling, a sea of unnecessary gore and a lot of chopp Never judge a book by its cover, especially if its cover looks too good to be true - I learned that the hard way after spending money on a new copy of World War Z. The title "World War Z" was cool as heck, the cover had a decayed, vintage kind of look and it said it was about zombies, and since I was a fan of Romero's Living Dead film trilogy, I figured this could be a really exciting book. Big mistake. World War Z was mostly just ranting and rambling, a sea of unnecessary gore and a lot of choppy filler. To be frank, it was really boring; I felt like the living dead after reading it. Unfortunately the zombie subgenre, which used to be cool, has become a recent trend among media thanks to that The Walking Dead show on television, so now zombies are just a cliche fad. :(

  14. 4 out of 5

    Fabian

    Having just read the most literary of all zombie novels makes one thing clear: haute lit & this particular horror genre simply don't mix. But that doesn't make the effort any less outstanding, unique, or outrageous. "WWZ" takes a scatterplot approach to begin to tell what's happened to the world after the zombie apocalypse has transpired. All accounts are so definitive, so individual as to seem 100% authentic. We get accounts all the way from the very heights of the social echelons (Veep, Ar Having just read the most literary of all zombie novels makes one thing clear: haute lit & this particular horror genre simply don't mix. But that doesn't make the effort any less outstanding, unique, or outrageous. "WWZ" takes a scatterplot approach to begin to tell what's happened to the world after the zombie apocalypse has transpired. All accounts are so definitive, so individual as to seem 100% authentic. We get accounts all the way from the very heights of the social echelons (Veep, Army generals...) to the rantings of average civilians (like a woman with a 5 year-old's sensibility, for instance). There is a type of reader out there for this type of narrative. They will adore the militaristic accounts-- though, admittedly, not my cup of tea. But the additions to zombie lore are awesome! From quislings (i.e. live zombie impersonators) to zombie-detecting dogs.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Raeleen Lemay

    Going into this, I knew it wouldn't be full of action. However, I was hoping for a bit more discussion of THE ZOMBIES. I feel like I didn't learn much about the zombies that supposedly overtook the world, and what I did learn made little sense. Near the beginning of the book, somebody mentions how the zombies are extremely fast, and for the rest of the book they're described as being very slow-moving... Okay then. I was also hoping for more civilian accounts of the zombie war, but unfortunately m Going into this, I knew it wouldn't be full of action. However, I was hoping for a bit more discussion of THE ZOMBIES. I feel like I didn't learn much about the zombies that supposedly overtook the world, and what I did learn made little sense. Near the beginning of the book, somebody mentions how the zombies are extremely fast, and for the rest of the book they're described as being very slow-moving... Okay then. I was also hoping for more civilian accounts of the zombie war, but unfortunately most of the people who spoke were either in the military, or were scientists or something of that nature. So they kind of just talked about the military aspects of the war, and while that may be really exciting for some people to read about, it just wasn't for me. I also find it difficult to enjoy a book when the whole time you know how it ends (as this takes place AFTER the war is over). I wouldn't say this is a bad book, but it just wasn't really enjoyable for me personally. (I listened to this on audiobook, which was a really cool way to experience this book. It features Rob Reiner, Nathan Fillion, Simon Pegg, and mooooore!)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carol.

    Thoughtful and thought-provoking. Not at all the typical zombie book, and not at all what I expected. Published in 2006, the issues and underlying plot points are as pertinent today as then. What would happen in a real zombie apocalypse? Given current politics, economics, cultural trends, and geography, I'd be willing to bet it happens closely to Brooks' vision. World War Z is structured along the lines of a documentary, a collection of remembrances about the world-wide zombie war. Divided by ch Thoughtful and thought-provoking. Not at all the typical zombie book, and not at all what I expected. Published in 2006, the issues and underlying plot points are as pertinent today as then. What would happen in a real zombie apocalypse? Given current politics, economics, cultural trends, and geography, I'd be willing to bet it happens closely to Brooks' vision. World War Z is structured along the lines of a documentary, a collection of remembrances about the world-wide zombie war. Divided by chronological order, one can get the feel of the evolution from chapter headings: "Warnings," "Blame," "The Great Panic," "Turning the Tide" "Home Front USA," "Around the World and Above," "Total War," and "Good-byes." "Warnings" begins with a doctor in China responding to a remote village to a request for help. His tale lures the reader in, giving an intimate view of the initial confusion, the fear, the drastic response by the state, and the systemic holes that lead to ultimate break down. From there, the interviewer talks to a human smuggler in Tibet, drug war agents in Greece, a black-market surgeon in Brazil, a laborer from South Africa, a member of Israeli intelligence, and a repatrioted Palestinian. It's a brilliant idea for a narrative about a global issue, because each culture group frames the problem in terms of its own narrow focus (how could it not?), giving the reader insight into how confronting any issue takes place in a morass of history--but also how similar we are at the individual level. And, unfortunately, the degree to which personal selfishness, both altruistic (saving loved ones) and greedy, pave the way for worsening disaster. Further interviews include the ordinary survivor (who was anything but), soldiers, an astronaut, and various government officials including the vice-president and a diplomat. It makes for an extremely interesting analysis, because it covers both the personal, private story and the larger, world arc. Ultimately, it was a sobering and satisfying commentary on humanity and the current state of the world. While that sounds potentially dull and analytical, structuring the story around a zombie war is frosting on the vegan cupcake. While it possibly could have been as strong of a narrative if Brooks was imagining a virulent and lethal virus, zombies gave it a flash factor that draws dystopia fans in. Besides, reanimated dead do create challenges of their own that would be unique in warfare. One general talks about how traditional warfare centers around people that are "bred, led and fed." Zombies require none of those things--their ranks grow with death, they require no leaders, so it is not possible to remove key strategists in a campaign, and they don't require any sort of supplies or rest, so there is no possibility of destroying a supply line. Underwater environments prove to be the long-term zombie reservoir, presenting unique challenges to world-wide eradication. Minor quibbles include a lack of some of the science behind the outbreak, as well as that of the lone survivors. And, while it is a thought-provoking story over all, it's not exactly a gripping one that kept me up at night. That's actually okay, as it proved more satisfying in the long run. Just temper your expectations. In some ways, this was the complete antithesis of Zone One, (review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...) which examines the zombie post-apocalypse through the individual and humanity's slide downward. This looks at zombie wars through multiple viewpoints on a world-wide scale, and it's ultimate message is hope with cost. I highly recommend to zombie or science-dabbling fans. Four flesh-eaten stars. http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/0...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    update...update... To everything there is a time - a time to reap and a time to plant, a time to listen to Schoenberg and a time to listen to Lez Zeppelin, the all-girl tribute band, a time to read Marcel Proust and a time to read about zombie apocalypses. That time, for me, passed some years ago. I shouldn't've picked up this novel but I was seduced by shedloads of great reviews on this very site. Although my copy has a front-cover blurb by Simon Pegg, it's his very own great little zom-romcom Sh update...update... To everything there is a time - a time to reap and a time to plant, a time to listen to Schoenberg and a time to listen to Lez Zeppelin, the all-girl tribute band, a time to read Marcel Proust and a time to read about zombie apocalypses. That time, for me, passed some years ago. I shouldn't've picked up this novel but I was seduced by shedloads of great reviews on this very site. Although my copy has a front-cover blurb by Simon Pegg, it's his very own great little zom-romcom Shaun of the Dead, plus George Romero's splendid zombie trilogy which Shaun beautifully parodies, plus other movies like 28 Days Later and I Am Legend, and a thousand other post-apocalypse novels and B-movies, and plus NOW the fab series THE WALKING DEAD which I only just discovered, wow, I love it - it's all of these things which cumulatively undermine the not inconsiderable energy and sociopolitical insight of Max Brooks' own version of The War Against the People You Really Hoped You'd Never See Again. Every scene in this book we've seen or read several times before, and alas, mostly by less truthful writers. This is really an excellent novel, but for younger readers who haven't already slogged, as I have, through a lifetime of pulp. Brooks's imagination is tough and unflinching, but you have to concede that zombie apocalypses bring out the macho in pretty much everybody. This really is a war book, chock full of pumped-up acronym-heavy military jargon. World War Z is mainly fought with TESTOSTERONE!!! This book wanted to be for zombies what THE WIRE is for Baltimore, and for that I give it a crisp military salute and a bag of red tops. I think my 15 year old self would have rated this one four fat ones but that guy didn't have the best taste really. ** That said, myself and daughter Georgia will be lurching, shambling and jerking our bodies towards the cinema when the Brad Pitt zombuster film-of-the-book is released soon. Me and Georgia love that stuff. Gwan, destroy the world again... and again...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I have biblio-cooties. There. I said it and I accept it. Because the majority of my friends really, really loved this book. And I fear they will reject me now that they know that it did little to nothing for me. I shall have to sit alone in the library, other readers keeping a wide berth for fear of contagion, but I cannot tell a lie and I stand by my pronouncement: Hi, my name is Amanda and I did not enjoy World War Z. In the past, I have ripped into books I disliked with a gleeful, almost mania I have biblio-cooties. There. I said it and I accept it. Because the majority of my friends really, really loved this book. And I fear they will reject me now that they know that it did little to nothing for me. I shall have to sit alone in the library, other readers keeping a wide berth for fear of contagion, but I cannot tell a lie and I stand by my pronouncement: Hi, my name is Amanda and I did not enjoy World War Z. In the past, I have ripped into books I disliked with a gleeful, almost maniacal abandon, and so there are some who may suspect that I will do so here. But this is an entirely different case, for World War Z's fault is not that it's a bad book. It's well-written, it's got an intriguing conceit (the tale of the zombie apocalypse told in journalistic hindsight from the perspective of those who survived), and some imaginative scenarios (sure, we've all thought about zombies on land, but what about zombies underwater?). In fact there's no fault at all here other than the fact that, as far as undead ghouls go, I'm Team Vampire. I've never really found anything that frightening about zombies, other than a certain "Eww" factor that compels me to think about how I need to stock up on hand sanitizer and wet wipes in a zombiefied world because they're leaving nasty bits and pieces everywhere. To me, there is nothing more frightening than intellect coupled with either undeniable evil or with moral apathy. Since zombies are basically husks driven by a biological imperative instead of conscious thought, they're not my monster of choice. The only zombie flicks I've enjoyed have been Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland. Humor + zombies = a win. Horror + zombies = not so much. So I knew going in that this was likely a swing and a miss, but it had received such rave reviews that I couldn't resist. I thought the journalistic style might appeal to me, but few of the voices were clearly differentiated enough for me to connect with any one character. There were 3 or 4 stories that really engaged me, but not enough to enjoy the overall experience. What was really frightening, however, is that Brooks does an excellent job of showing how ill-equipped we are globally to deal with any type of rapidly-spreading contagion. He also captures the fear and panic that comes out of facing an unknown. Particularly in first world countries, we are so complacent with "knowing all the answers" and controlling everything that the mental toll of facing a problem we can not solve would be just as damaging as the physical threat. Brooks does an excellent job of realistically portraying this. So, I'll say it again: not a bad book. Just not for me. Now I'll go sit in my corner and wait for someone else to catch biblio-cooties. It shouldn't be long. I just have to wait for someone to write a 1 star review of an Orson Scott Card or Janet Evanovich book and my transgressions will be forgotten. Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    ZOMG! The first time I ever saw that chat acronym my brain immediately registered zombie. Is that weird? I mean, I figured out pretty quickly that the acronym is nothing more than a joke, a mere play on words (so to speak) made at the expense of lazy n00bs whose left fingers slip off the shift key in an attempt to type, “OMG!” But somehow that initial association has stuck with me, as even now when I see someone type it (and usually it’s Ceridwen, Queen of Internet Memes, doing it ironically), I ZOMG! The first time I ever saw that chat acronym my brain immediately registered zombie. Is that weird? I mean, I figured out pretty quickly that the acronym is nothing more than a joke, a mere play on words (so to speak) made at the expense of lazy n00bs whose left fingers slip off the shift key in an attempt to type, “OMG!” But somehow that initial association has stuck with me, as even now when I see someone type it (and usually it’s Ceridwen, Queen of Internet Memes, doing it ironically), I think of the undead. Or when I’m walking alone at night and hear a scraping shuffle and a familiar guttural moan, and some cold, rotting fingers fall lazily onto my left shoulder, my immediate reaction is never anything short of an instinctually exclaimed, “ZOMG!” Shudder. So yeah, this rating is no accidental slip of the Apple trackpad; World War Z really is 4-star material. Instead of presenting a been-there-done-that narrative wherein a group of protagonists fall prey to a zombie epidemic, whose lives change with shifting priorities, whose outlook becomes fundamentally survivalist, and who ultimately learn to cope with their situation and depend on themselves and each other to combat the swarms of undead infesting their world, Max Brooks takes a different tack. Here, we get Bolaño-style interviews with key political and military figures from across the globe who are involved in the conflict, along with individual accounts of those who have survived the epidemic. It is a cross-sectional human-interest look at what occurred at the onset of the epidemic, who failed to heed the warning signs and why, who was responsible for its spread and how, and what the world did—both on a grand scale as well as in Joe the Plumber’s backyard—to tackle it. And tackle it they do. Essentially a “current events” book, this is not meant to project the possibilities of a distant future. It is the here and now of a planetary disaster with painstaking attention paid to the details of not only the epidemic’s spread, but also to the practical logistics encountered on the path to its defeat. The stories are short, but effective. And like Bolaño’s interviews, there is a uniformity in their voice (even with interviewees hailing from different countries), which could be seen as a failure on Brooks’s part, but it nonetheless worked for me. Brooks has a lot to say in this novel, from opinions on American foreign policy to a belief in the indefatigable spirit of humanity, and—ZOMG!—he says it well.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    Humanity survived Zombie apacolypse. Like after any great tragedy, the government wants a record. Max Brooks is their oral historian. Only, when he hands his documents, the bureaucracy whittles it down to the bare facts. Humans, over every nation, dragged their bone weary bodies through this war. They are now faced with the numbing task of rebuilding society. They deserve to have their stories told. So, he publishes the true account of World War Z. Told in a series of vignettes, we listen in Humanity survived Zombie apacolypse. Like after any great tragedy, the government wants a record. Max Brooks is their oral historian. Only, when he hands his documents, the bureaucracy whittles it down to the bare facts. Humans, over every nation, dragged their bone weary bodies through this war. They are now faced with the numbing task of rebuilding society. They deserve to have their stories told. So, he publishes the true account of World War Z. Told in a series of vignettes, we listen in on interviews as Brooks travels both the country and the world. He weaves a chilling tale. The monsters that rose from the dead, they are nothing compared to the ones we carry in our hearts The vignettes are absolutely riveting. There's a bit of the regular zombie murder mayhem but the story focuses on the human side of things. How the survivors, survived. There's the blind man who fought off a hoard with no more than a blunt staff. Some people lost their minds - succumbing to tree belief that they have joined the dead. There's the unintentionally cannibalistic family - and so much more. Most people don't believe something can happen until it already has. Audiobook comments: --Read by Max Brooks, Alan Alda, John Turturro, Rob Reiner, Mark Hamill, Alfred Molina, Simon Pegg, Henry Rollins and Martin Scorsese --Highly recommended you listen to this novel - it's a quality production. --Every voice is country-specific and the actors read very convincingly. It feels like I'm next to Max as he interviews the survivors. Blog | Instagram | Twitter

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stacia (the 2010 club)

    Doing something in reverse bit me in the butt this time. I started the book but didn't get very far in before seeing the movie. What I thought the movie was going to be : What I actually got : Damn, those zombies were fast. Yes, I am only doing all of this to amuse myself, for the rest of you probably see my self-perceived cleverness as silly. But World War Z the book was a series of interviews, so of course my mind goes right to Brad Pitt's other role having to do with interviews...what was I to do Doing something in reverse bit me in the butt this time. I started the book but didn't get very far in before seeing the movie. What I thought the movie was going to be : What I actually got : Damn, those zombies were fast. Yes, I am only doing all of this to amuse myself, for the rest of you probably see my self-perceived cleverness as silly. But World War Z the book was a series of interviews, so of course my mind goes right to Brad Pitt's other role having to do with interviews...what was I to do??? Anyway, let's get back to the point. If you are expecting the book and movie to match up, you'll be completely frustrated. WWZ the movie : action packed, time on the run, most of it told in one person's PoV. WWZ the book : the complete opposite of that. No joke. Anyhoooo (help me, I'm turning into my mother), after I got back from the movie (which was quite entertaining, btw) and picked up the book again, I was all WHAT THE EFF? Is this the same thing? So I put it down for a couple of days. You know, to clear my head and all that. Then I picked it up again. And read it for real. And it wasn't bad. I really wish I'd read it first now because the warped not-alike movie was more entertaining, and it hampered my ability to get into the book the same way that I might have before. But what can you do? Oh yeah. Right. Don't watch the movie first. That's what you can do. Or do watch the movie first, if you have no desire to read a book in which much of it is about the retelling of events, interview style. If you'd rather just start out your time with people on the run from zombies, I'd gather that the movie is a safer bet. Was this supposed to be a book review? Because I don't think I said much about the book, did I? I thought the book was okay but can't really say why. It was all over the place. The jumping around between viewpoints isn't my favorite style of story-telling, especially when you can't get a feel for who is telling the story/giving the recollection. I felt sort of detached because of the writing style. I'm sure that it works for a lot of people, but it didn't completely work for me. This was good enough that I was able to get through it, but there's nothing compelling enough to make me want to re-read it or even recommend it. Movie Grade : B (even with failing to stick to the book) Book Grade : C (even though it was more unique than the movie)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brownbetty

    This book is like ordering ice-cream and receiving a punch in the mouth. I've been wanting to read this book for a while, since it seemed right up my alley; I love a good apocafic, and zombies are always fun. I made it to page 69 before putting it down with great force--I would have thrown it, except it was a library book. This book is, as advertised, about the global zombie apocalypse as told by the survivors. You don't stay with a narrative voice very long; each one speaks to the 'interviewer', This book is like ordering ice-cream and receiving a punch in the mouth. I've been wanting to read this book for a while, since it seemed right up my alley; I love a good apocafic, and zombies are always fun. I made it to page 69 before putting it down with great force--I would have thrown it, except it was a library book. This book is, as advertised, about the global zombie apocalypse as told by the survivors. You don't stay with a narrative voice very long; each one speaks to the 'interviewer', telling their experience of the global plague, and then moves on. It's not worth becoming fond of any of them, and frankly, not very likely either; personalities only go about as far as classing a person as “stupid,” "naive", or “evil,” with the occasional “if only we'd listened to that farsighted man!” The personality that comes through the strongest is the writer, not the in-story journalist who has supposedly compiled the stories, but in fact max brooks. I don't know the man, but from the 69 pages of his writing I already dislike him. The overall tone I get from this book is 'smug.' I twitched in the introduction when the journalist describes his motivation writing the book; his boss who pays him rejects his first draft which contains the interviews which contain the “human factor”, dismissing them as “too intimate … too many feelings.” Obviously, this boss is a robot-hearted beaurocrat! Or maybe the journalist is an idiot. He was told to write up a report containing “cold, hard data,” and “clear facts and figures,” and he handed in an oral history? What did he think was going to happen? I could handle it if the framing device was “idiot-journalist is idiot,” but it's not just him. It quickly becomes apparent that the actual subtitle of this book is “How the people and institutions I despise will doom us all in the upcoming zombie apocalypse.” Nearly every account falls into “Oh, I was so foolish and innocent then!” or “I remain a selfish bastard, and refuse to feel guilty for my actions.” It's like a whole book of stories ending with “And then the entire bus gave me a standing ovation, and the bus driver told me I was his adopted brother.” AUGH. Look, 69 pages produced that much aggravation. Imagine if I'd finished it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily (Books with Emily Fox)

    Well this didn't go as I expected... I love post-apocalyptic books. When I learned after watching the movie that there was a book I couldn't wait to read it! Turns out I was bored and had to skim through the last part... Love the story but hated the format with the "interviews".

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    A very pleasant surprise. TBT, not a huge fan of the zombie sub-genre: never watched an episode of the Walking Dead, never really bought into it as a fantasy vehicle. So – I picked this up with not so much trepidation as an allowance that I probably would not love it. I didn’t LOVE it, but liked it a lot more than I expected I would. Here’s the thing: It’s not JUST about an I Am Legend scenario where the world turns into monsters. Well – it sort of IS about that – but it’s also about a lot more. Aut A very pleasant surprise. TBT, not a huge fan of the zombie sub-genre: never watched an episode of the Walking Dead, never really bought into it as a fantasy vehicle. So – I picked this up with not so much trepidation as an allowance that I probably would not love it. I didn’t LOVE it, but liked it a lot more than I expected I would. Here’s the thing: It’s not JUST about an I Am Legend scenario where the world turns into monsters. Well – it sort of IS about that – but it’s also about a lot more. Author Max Brooks (son of Mel “It’s good to be the KING!” Brooks) serves this up with a steaming hot portion of socio-economic views, cultural observations and more than a generous side order of HAVEATYOU! post-apocalyptic fudge. You probably already can guess the premise, so no spoilers – there is a global pandemic where damn near everyone gets turned into zombies. We’re talking Aliens Bill Paxton “GAME OVER MAN!” world-wide catastrophe. MOST of humanity is wiped out. But Brooks’ narrative, told from the shifting perspectives of the survivors in a kind of post-war journalistic oral history novel (patterned after Studs Turkel’s 1984 The Good War), is appealing for it’s plucky spirit and charismatic delivery. Not just blood and guts, we get to know first hand about this event from start to finish and all the details in between. It’s the human element of this that works so well, the near remembrances of the survivors told from their perspectives. I loved that Brooks develops a working vocabulary for the post-war survivors. The human soldiers call their zombie opponents “Zach” and he makes the astute observation that they no longer needed consultants and executive directors – humanity needed carpenters and gunsmiths. I was also drawn to one of the survivor’s recollection that his group loved to go into battle to the ear splitting tunes of Iron Maiden’s The Trooper. So if you were like me and avoided this because it was just another zombie book – go ahead and give it a try, it’s actually pretty good.

  25. 5 out of 5

    TL

    I remember seeing the movie of this and thinking "Youins screwed this up big time." I've heard the story of how this particular plot was decided on and rolled my eyes but I still gave it a chance. I was mostly bored during it. IMHO, I hope the sequel doesn't ever get made if its gonna be anything like the first one. Worst book adaptation (for me) alongside the *coughPercyJacksoncough* films. This was a balm after crazy busy or frustrating work nights (and there were quite a few... few of these are I remember seeing the movie of this and thinking "Youins screwed this up big time." I've heard the story of how this particular plot was decided on and rolled my eyes but I still gave it a chance. I was mostly bored during it. IMHO, I hope the sequel doesn't ever get made if its gonna be anything like the first one. Worst book adaptation (for me) alongside the *coughPercyJacksoncough* films. This was a balm after crazy busy or frustrating work nights (and there were quite a few... few of these are still my top favorites and I still applaud the cast of voices. They make what could be dry retellings more compelling and fascinating. Can't say much more than I've already said.. if you decide to go for this.. have fun:) --- Still think Hollywood should have made this a mini-series.. maybe one day they will on Netflix *shrugs* Girl can hope. 1st time June (paperback), second time (audiobook) October 2013.. Third read : near end of September to October 9th 2015 4th read: June 2017 --- For a list of the audiobook cast: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/World... --- Not a bad way to kick off October hmm? I had planned to take my time with this but flee through it haha. The diverse cast of the audiobook adds to the enjoyment alot... half the fun for me was guessing who the sort of familiar voices belonged to (got a few right ). A couple I was impressed by their accent change, Simon Pegg I didn't recognize at all the first time till I listened to the cast list at the end.. Good job Simon :) There's not a plot persay really, its a bunch of survior accounts with a couple intersecting that follows the war from beginning to end. Some of the parts were overlong and a bit dry/rambling but it didn't deter my enjoyment of the novel. It's a book where you'll love it, or find it 'meh' probably... not a quick read but worth your time:) I remember having fun tracking down the unabridged version of the audiobook at the time. I didn't know at first only an abridged one was out (those make no sense to me ).. I think I found mine either just after I saw the movie or before. Would highly recommend the full version! Happy reading, I probably dig this out again in a couple years:) (Excuse any spelling errors right now haha, on my phone)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shovelmonkey1

    "This book is so good that you might even come back from the dead to read it. " The Zombie Weekly "More satisfying than gnawing on your neighbours leg bone and meatier than the cast of "the Biggest Loser USA". " Moan Magazine "A great insight for any living dead who want to out think the living er living" Corpse Chat "I was so amazed by this i ate my own arm" Ghoul Housekeeping "Settle back with some chips, crack open a skull for a bit of brain dip and enjoy world war z" ZQ Magazine

  27. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Zombie stories have been told in many different ways and teach us many different things. Some zombies are slow and teach us about the dangers of mass consumerism. Some zombies are fast and teach us about the dangers of infectious diseases. Sometimes the zombies take the backseat to a small group of unlikeable zombie-infestation survivors who sit around bickering, making poor decisions, and having circular, intro-level philosophical arguments until you are praying that the undead will rip their t Zombie stories have been told in many different ways and teach us many different things. Some zombies are slow and teach us about the dangers of mass consumerism. Some zombies are fast and teach us about the dangers of infectious diseases. Sometimes the zombies take the backseat to a small group of unlikeable zombie-infestation survivors who sit around bickering, making poor decisions, and having circular, intro-level philosophical arguments until you are praying that the undead will rip their tongues from their still moving mouths. In this latter scenario, I am of course referring to the television version of The Walking Dead. Max Brooks’ World War Z is different from anything you’ve seen or read before. I’m fairly certain about that. This is because Brooks has taken as his inspiration not George Romero or Robert Kirkman, but Studs Terkel. That’s right, Studs Terkel: the famous, Pulitzer Prize winning oral historian. Terkel’s The Good War and Hard Times, his most famous works, are not traditional nonfiction narratives. Rather, they are oral histories that collect the stories of a vast web of people, all with differing points of view. Each of these individuals tells their own story, a small part of the whole, in the first person, using their own words. Terkel would introduce the different stories with a dateline and a short, indented paragraph that explained a little bit about the each person. Then, he would stand back and let that person have their say. This is the exact template that Brooks (acknowledging his homage) uses in World War Z. And I think that’s important for would-be readers to know. This isn’t your typical zombie novel. It’s not your typical novel at all. It has embraced the oral history conceit and plays that out to the end. In the world of World War Z, ten years have passed since the zombie apocalypse. The UN has decided to compile a report on the conflict, with Brooks playing the role of investigator. The official UN report relies heavily on facts and figures. Accordingly, Brooks decides to publish the personal stories – a collection of anecdotes – separately, in order to give readers a sense of how the Zombiegeddon felt. World War Z has eight chapters, not including an introduction, and within each of those chapters is a half-dozen or more remembrances from people around the globe. These chapters go in chronological order, so that the first chapter retells the outbreak of the zombie virus, while the final chapter covers the mopping up. In between there is a whole lot of blunt force trauma. The marvel of this book is the scope of its imagination. Conceptually, it is brilliant. Max Brooks has created a gritty, fully-realized, epic-sized scenario for the end of the world. And what’s more, he seems to have taken a giddy delight in doing so. Jumping from character to character, we “learn” how the disaster started and spread, and how countries as different as China and Israel dealt with it. Other witnesses describe the difficulty in fighting the zombies, and Brooks goes technology-geek as he rattles off made-up weapons systems (mixed in with actual weapons systems) used to combat the undead: No one thought about how many rounds the artillery would need for sustained operations, how many rockets for the MLRS, how many canister shots…the tanks had these things called canister shots…basically a giant shotgun shell. They fired these little tungsten balls…not perfect you know, wasting like a hundred balls for every G, but f—k, dude, at least it was something! Each Abrams only had three, three! Three out of a total loadout of forty! The rest were standard HEAT or SABOT! Do you know what a “Silver Bullet,” an armor-piercing, depleted-uranium dart is going to do to a group of walking corpses? Nothing! Brooks’ previous zombie-related book, The Zombie Survival Guide, was a tongue-in-cheek, hipster must-have. World War Z has had its tongue ripped from its cheek. It is grim, as in, Zombie War veterans suffering from PTSD grim. It paints a bleak picture of a shrinking number of defenders facing overwhelming odds. Brooks’ zombies are old school. They are the slow and shuffling pre-28 Days Later undead. Even so, Brooks clearly outlines what makes them such an unstoppable force. He makes you imagine an enemy in the hundreds of millions, that doesn’t get rattled, doesn’t get scared, and doesn’t stop, ever. And he also forces you to imagine psyches of the survivors, who among other things, are forced to dole out hundreds of head injuries in order to survive. The reality in a book like this is that some of the stories are going to be better than others. It would go too far to say that World War Z maintains an absolutely consistent high level of quality throughout. I don’t think it does. Some of the individual histories are awesome. Incredible. Some of them are good enough to be short stories, tracing fierce dramatic arcs. Others have the twists and turns of a Twilight Zone episode. Among the standouts: a girl and her family escape to the north, hoping the cold will save them, but soon realize that despite preparations, they don’t have enough supplies (doomsday preppers take note); a downed pilot must make her way to safety through zombie-infested territory, with only the radio guidance of a Skywatcher to help her through; a Chinese nuclear submarine goes rogue and discovers an ocean filled with sea-zombies. It is to Brooks’ credit that he strives for a breadth and diversity of experiences. There is a chapter devoted solely to the United States, but he gives more than ample time to zombie survivors from all corners of the globe. One of the problems I had with this book, though, is despite these diverse characters, the narrative voices all sound the same. It doesn’t matter if you are a Chinese doctor, an Indian engineer, a wild child who allegedly can barely speak, or an American soldier. All the narrators express themselves in the same way. The only difference is that some people use more jargon and slang than others. Thus, it was really hard to differentiate each person, except on the basis of how cool or memorable their encounters were. This lead to me not really caring about anyone on a human level. All these characters were nothing more than names and a means to execute a concept. Moreover, by utilizing the conceit of an oral history, Brooks removed the direct threat of the zombies. All these stories happened in the past, some as long as a decade ago. There is no longer any danger. You know that the storyteller has survived. Sure, lots of people died, but no one that the reader knows about, cares about, or can relate to. There are dozens of times when an oral historian sighs heavily, reaches for a smoke, and commiserates about their losses, but these are just words that ring hollow. Despite this, Brooks has succeeded masterfully at envisioning a nearly-ended world. I am a fan (I admit, guiltily) of apocalyptic fiction, from On the Beach to The Last Ship to The Road. Most end-of-the-world lit strives for realism in describing the destruction of society and the nascent civilization left struggling in doom’s wake. All these books seek to teach you a lesson by evoking the mortal dread of abandoned automobiles, burnt-out cities, and unburied corpses. World War Z is as successful as any other novel I’ve read in fulfilling the requirements of apocalyptic fiction. Of all the things there are to fear in the world, zombies do not rate very high. And of all the things that might end our world, I fear zombies less than killer bees, and slightly more than killer dolphins. Still, Brooks has done such an incredible job visualizing the fictional results of a zombie horde that part of me felt it was all quite possible.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    I read this book a few years ago - the Zombie Survival Guide was super-hyped so I wanted to check this followup out as soon as it came out. I love the documentary format. Brooks did so well in telling it in such a way that it really did feel like non-fiction. One of my favorite parts of the zombie genre is not necessarily the horror and gore, but how the survivors deal with the threat and rebuilding. The before, during, and after stories in this book are raw and real. Because of this, this zombie I read this book a few years ago - the Zombie Survival Guide was super-hyped so I wanted to check this followup out as soon as it came out. I love the documentary format. Brooks did so well in telling it in such a way that it really did feel like non-fiction. One of my favorite parts of the zombie genre is not necessarily the horror and gore, but how the survivors deal with the threat and rebuilding. The before, during, and after stories in this book are raw and real. Because of this, this zombie tale will likely appeal to more than just horror fans. Concerning the movie: I enjoyed the movie, but it is barely like the book. They are each enjoyable in their own right. Max Brooks: Probably the most entertaining fact about this book is that it is written by Mel Brooks' son (but don't expect any comedy!)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    6.0 Stars. One of my All Time Favorites. This book took the well-worn concept of "the world is being taken over my zombies" and turned it into a global, thriller that looked at both the beginning, middle and end (?) of the struggle from a series of different viewpoints that explore the social, political, environmental and financial effects of such events. Superbly done and I can not conceive of a better standard for the genre. Oh yeah, and it is a real page turner and is NEVER boring.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Maciek

    World War Z is an interesting project. A self proclaimed Oral History of the Zombie War, the book is presented as a collection of oral interviews with key survivors of the global war against the undead, conducted and compiled by the unnamed narrator (an agent of the UN's postwar commission). Contrary to the geocentrism of most novels concerned with the end of humanity, Brooks is concerned with a World War - his interviewees come from various countries, and their combined testimonies all provide World War Z is an interesting project. A self proclaimed Oral History of the Zombie War, the book is presented as a collection of oral interviews with key survivors of the global war against the undead, conducted and compiled by the unnamed narrator (an agent of the UN's postwar commission). Contrary to the geocentrism of most novels concerned with the end of humanity, Brooks is concerned with a World War - his interviewees come from various countries, and their combined testimonies all provide an insight into changes which swept the globe as its result. Brooks's novel is a double-edged sword. On one hand, his effort at providing an international perspective of the conflict is admirable - most of its literary and cinematic cousins usually focus on a small group of survivors who fight their way through their home country (usually the U.S.), and the rest of the world is is pushed back to provide merely background information - newspaper scraps, bites from television clips - if it's included at all. Brooks's tours the planet, and gathers eyewitness reports from citizens of multiple countries - these range from today's giants to small island nations - and whose roles in the war varied greatly: doctors who saw the first outbreaks, generals who guided their armies in active resistance, and ordinary people who were trying to escape their homes before they turned into their graves. BUT precisely because of its nature it also has a significant drawback: a lack of a single, unifying thread which would connect all the entries into a coherent narrative sequence. Although Brooks maintains relatively stable chronology the book remains a series of relatively short individual accounts, independent from one another, which literally jump all over the planet from one spot to the other. Brooks doesn't give himself either the time or space to get his readers emotionally invested in the fate of his characters; there are no heroes to root for or antagonists to root against. Although he tries to diversify his cast of interviewees as much as possible, he doesn't quite have the chops to pull it off. By nature oral storytelling is very intimate - the collected story is presented as a verbatim account as told by the person, inseparably tied to his/hers character, mood, style, age, culture, ethnicity, nationality, social class, education level ...the amount of factors which have to be included and emulated by an author who attempts to present his story as a whole series of such diverse accounts is enormous, and requires copious research along with considerable linguistic skills. It is then perhaps no surprise that the diverse people of World War Z sounds suspiciously similar to one another, and all point toward the same person writing them. This doesn't have to be a criticism of Brook's style - it's the criticism of precisely that style as being transparent in all these accounts, which should be diverse and unique. Some of the depictions border on cliches ranging from the known and tiresome - tough military generals, corrupt doctors, tough army chicks - to almost dumbfounding: there are two Japanese characters in this novel, and one of them is a blind ninja-zen master, who fights the zombies with a stick. The other just uses an ordinary Katana he finds in an apartment, and later becomes the blind man's apprentice. No joking. Since we know in advance that humanity ensured its survival, all we really have left is to discover how they got there. While Brooks aims to present his story from different locations, he falls into his own booby trap and is unable to develop any real tension. Brooks's interviews read like a series of disconnected vignettes - a series of half-finished ideas, employing themes and methods familiar to the genre but not nurtured enough to stand on their own as separate stories, lacking both character and plot development. It does not help that the reader is totally dependent on the characters to fill him in on every small detail, and in places the book turns into nothing more than a big infodump - buying the interesting moment under a heavy amount of (often technical) slog. Last, but not least: It's obvious that Brooks thought for a considerable amount of time at how the world and individual people would react to and change after such an epidemic, the social and political commentary still comes out as localized and rather ham-fisted. (view spoiler)[Just look at what's happening in the Middle East: Iran not only is a nuclear state, but also uses its nuclear weapons to nuke Pakistan out of existence after the Pakistanis are unable to stop the flow of their sick refugees into Iranian territory. Pakistan (which has nuclear weapons in real life) nukes Iran right back, and both nations wipe each other out of existence. Israel, on the other hand, is shown to be as almost fantastically benevolent and humane - in the novel only Israel knows how to protect itself from the plague by erecting proper fortifications along its borders, and not only doesn't nuke any other nation (which is ironic, considering the fact that it's the only nation in the Middle East which actually has the capabilities to do so) but also takes in all Arab refugees who have a clean bill of health (not zombified). Technically they had to be Palestinian, but nobody really checked. The two sides kiss and make up for past conflicts, and go on to form a new country called "United Palestine" (Wonder if Brooks remembers the name of the Israeli PM who said that there was no such thing as Palestinians). This turn of events jumps out of the blue in a book which clearly aims to mimic real accounts, but it uncannily resembles actual relationships between the U.S. and both nations - the long-lasting and extremely generous support and approval of Israel and its actions, and the demonization and vilification of Iran - it being included by president Bush as one of the three countries in the Axis of Evil, and with the Obama administration making remarks about their "deep commitment" to preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, which includes possible U.S. military action. Perhaps it's just me, but this makes me shiver and remember all the fearmongering of the early 2000's which was based on Saddam supposedly having nuclear weapons in Iraq, and the subsequent invasion of said country. Remember how well that went? There's more of this kind of perspective: Cuba is OK because it turns democratic and Castro votes himself out of power, and becomes the world's most vibrant economy. China also becomes democratic and gives total independence to Tibet, which becomes the world's most populated city. Not all nations are so lucky. The Saudis burn their oil fields (???), and there's no grand Korean reunification party - North Koreans disappear from the face of the planet, and it's suggested that they might have gone underground to pursue more communism with their Dear Leader. Russia is actually called "Ivan" by some of the characters, and this kind of sympathy prevails for the country - Brooks has it establish a theocracy at the end of the book, and start annexing the former Soviet territories in an attempt to restart an Empire. The Russians also turn their women into walking incubators - it's implied that they're killed after they can't breed anymore. Interestingly, not a word is said about all the crazy religious zealots from the Bible Belt, and such a scenario is particularly interesting to read when American conservative politicians push for restricting abortion, access to contraceptives and even sexual education in their country. (hide spoiler)] in the end, the greatest flaw of World War Z is that it's too isolated from itself - some of the vignettes contain ideas which would greatly benefit from further development, but it never happens. Brooks could have added or subtracted 20 chapters from his work, and nothing of value would be gained or lost. World War Z reads like a collection of non-connected and unfinished short stories: while they're definitely readable and often well-constructed, they simply lack the weight to stand on their own and make a proper impact. As I mentioned before, the effort needed to create a work of fiction resembling an oral history is enormous, and I think that Max Brooks simply set for himself a too big task, and had to resort to simplifying it - and published the book, for better or worse, looking as it does. It can be intriguing to those interested in apocalyptic fiction, but it's a hardly groundbreaking or life-changing reading experience.

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