Thursday 17 March 2011

Book Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

Title: World War Z
Author: Max Brooks

Series: N/A
Published by:
Crown/Duckworth, 2006/7
Length: 342 pages
Warnings: Profanity, the living dead, suprisingly little gore
Other facts: Brooks has also written the Zombie Survival Guide.
Summary (from Amazon): It began with rumours from China about another pandemic. The reports were fragmentary and confused. A world still reeling from bird flu and limited nuclear exchanges had had enough of apocalypse. Most people just wanted to rebuild their lives. Then the cases started to multiply and what had looked like the stirrings of a criminal underclass, even the beginnings of a revolution, soon revealed itself to be much, much worse. Faced with a future of mindless, man-eating horror, humanity was forced to accept the logic of world government and face events that tested our sanity and our sense of reality. Maybe, Brooks argues, the zombies brought us back to life. Based on extensive interviews with survivors and key players in the ten-year fight-back against the horde, "World War Z" brings the very finest traditions of American journalism to bear on what is surely the most incredible story in the history of civilisation.
Review:This book is written as of series of interviews with survivors of the zombie war, split into sections detailing various aspects such as The Great Panic and Turning the Tide. This is a very original way of giving an account of the war (known hereafter as WWZ), and made it more interesting than if it was just a "this happened then that happened" account. 
I like the way Brooks thought about the situations of each person, about 100, if not more of them, and let some individual personalities and back stories shine through. Even the cultural aspects varied slightly yet still matched up, with the Russians talking about the  draconian  decimation and the Japanese always  referring to zombies as saifu, proving that brooks didn’t just write 100{?} random stories and put them in chronological order . The range of people "interviewed" varied widely, meaning you got a full view of WWZ. It was easy to imagine both the war itself, and the post-war world. And while it mostly read like something out of the hunger games, at times the descriptions and actions were a little bland. 
You can tell that it was written by one person, with the same writing style. Another thing that let this down: it was annoyingly hard to place in time. You see, it talked about the pre-war world having computers and freezers and things like that, but then you get one guy who would be about 100 at by the time the war was over, and I really can’t see any guy over 80 surviving a ten year war with hunger and harsh conditions and zombies. That’s not ageist, that’s basic common sense. The whole book is in question and answer form, which while entertaining to start with, got a little boring after 20 interviews. You also can’t really get to know much of a character, as each interview is about five pages long. Not enough. Also, there’s one thing that went unexplained throughout the whole book, or maybe I just didn’t pay attention: exactly how did these zombies come into existence anyway? 
Apart from these little flaws, it is very good, enjoyable, mid-weight read that, should there ever be a real WWZ, will be very useful to have. And those of you who think "typical, zombies, blood, etc", there is surprisingly little gore.
Overall: I give this strength 3 because there it was fun, and informative, but it got a bit boring at times.

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Thanks for taking time to read this!
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Nina xxx

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