Title: World War Z
Author: Max Brooks (site)
Published: October 16, 2007 by Three Rivers Press
Pages: 352 (Paperback)
Price: $9.99 Book Depository $10.17 Amazon
Synopsis: 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. (Goodreads)
Initial Thoughts: I almost didn't pick this book up, mostly because the whole zombie element is a bit played down on the cover. However, after reading the small text, I couldn't wait to get started. A first-person account of the zombie apocalypse? With witnesses from all over the world? Written as a serious 'documentary' by the son of Mel Brooks? Yes, please!
Review: The first thing that surprised me about this book was how scary it was. One of the best things about zombie movies is that there's always some comedy mixed it, mostly unintentional. (The exception being those fast ones in 28 Days Later, so freakin' scary) I generally avoid Horror novels, due to my overactive imagination. I'm one of those people who become completely immersed in what they're reading. It takes me a while to disconnect from a good book. Needless to say, there was much contemplation of my home's defensibility and my odds of making it to the car and getting out of the neighborhood if a zombie horde started smashing in. (Not great; big window in the living room near the garage door, bedroom all the way upstairs.) If I'd really thought this through, I'd have realized that my imagination wouldn't add in funny zombie hijinks, it would take the tone of the novel and amplify it. The fact that I had to run to my car and lock the doors real fast when I left the house is an indicator of how thoroughly engrossing this novel was. It's written seriously, with reports from everywhere. The cultural information is the book is amazing. He must have done a heck of a lot of research. I enjoyed reading about the different cultures as much as the zombies. It really felt like I was reading the accounts of WWZ survivors. There were snapshots of both military and civilian experiences, starting in China where the zombies originated and ending on the sea, where most of the survivors were. The stories didn't all connect together, giving it a more realistic feel. It wasn't until about halfway through the novel that you began to see the overall story come together. I loved the different ways the governments responded; this guy has spent a LOT of time contemplating the ramifications of a Zombie Apocalypse.
Quick Review: World War Z a creepy and realistic read. The civilian stories were heartbreaking, the military accounts sometimes cold and clinical, and the overall feel was very realistic and terrifying. You'll definitely think about coming up with a Zombie Emergency Plan.
Also By This Author: