Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Review: "World War Z" by Max Brooks

The Scoop: (Goodreads)

“The end was near.” —Voices from the Zombie War

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.

My Take:

I'm actually a bit of a history buff. I wasn't always this way. In high school, history meant a lot of memorizing: dates, names, places, etc. BORING! But I discovered in college (with the help of a great professor) that history can be interesting. Really. History is really just old gossip. The more things change, the more they stay the same and I find it very interesting to imagine myself living in a time such as Henry VIII's England, Cleopatra's Egypt, World War II Era U.S. through the Zombie War.

Now, if zombies had attacked King Henry VIII, it would be tragic, but really...he had it coming.

One of my favorite ways to learn about to good ol' days is through the genre of oral histories. Basically, oral histories are a collection of people's stories as told by them. The cool thing for me is that this device helps me feel more immersed in the time period. Regular people seem to talk about little details and feelings that your typical history book won't touch (they're too worried about dates, names, places, you know...the boring stuff.)

Yeah, yeah, Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. Blah, blah, blah. What's really interesting is that he had NO clue where he was going, didn't discover America first and was a world-class jerk...

Anywhoo...back to the review at hand. Max Brooks has subtitled World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. The book is put together as an organized collection of various survivors' recollections of the Zombie War. About two stories in, I found myself engrossed and actually believing we did survive a near-apocalypse. The entire tone of the book is so detailed and realistic that I no longer felt that I was reading (listening) to a fictional tale, but rather reliving a real-life event. Quite a feat for a novel about zombies.

This sign isn't real...or is it?

I actually listened to World War Z as an audio book on Audible and really, I'm not sure I would have it any other way. The tale is narrated by multiple actors including: Mark Hamill (yes, Luke Skywalker) , Rob Reiner, Alan Alda and Carl Reiner. The cast is amazing and the audio version has been nominated and won several awards. Mark Hamill's portrayal of seasoned soldier, Todd Wainio, was particularly impressive.

Well, that light saber sure would have come in handy during the Zombie War, Luke. Way to not bring your A game.

This is the first novel in several months that I want to re-read already (think I'm going to buy the hardcover for that) because I enjoyed it that much.

Max Brooks is also the author of The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead and given my love of zombies and my love for World War Z, I'm pretty sure I want Mr. Brooks to be my new BFF.

Final Verdict:

1 comment:

  1. Good to read a review on this, wasn't quite sure about it myself and whether it was worth the read. I guess wanting to read it twice is a good sign.



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