Annalisa's Reviews > World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

World War Z by Max Brooks
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's review
May 13, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: apocalypse, guy-lit, horror, speculative
Recommended to Annalisa by: Penny
Recommended for: language
Read from January 13 to 24, 2012

While not all that scary, Word War Z did have enough of a creep factor to satisfy my craving for a solid zombie story. I liked the way the story develops from fear to fight, the details in the background that the narratives assume the reader knows as part of world war Z history (loved the title), and that the story has a journalist feel to it making it feel more real than your typical horror novel. Although I enjoyed the interview format, the inherent problem with it is there is no real fear that any of these people would succumb to the undead. Also, with the short snippets of interviews we aren't ever given the chance to get to know the people behind the story, what their lives were like before the war, or develop any sort of bond for them. In the end when Brooks wraps up their stories, I couldn't remember who was whom or what their stories were about and didn't care enough to flip back and track the names. But I didn't mind too much. The story focuses on the worldwide calamity and political downfall that the zombie apocalypse would produce and we're left to consider the implications on a grander scale, not a personal one.

As interesting as the story was, I almost gave it up a third of the way through. Not because I wasn't being given a personal story, but because the stories started sounding the same and I doubted Brooks had much more (or different) to offer for the rest of the novel. All the voices sounded a little egotistical, a little bit of a know-it-all, and quick to blame whilst at the same time defending themselves. Maybe that's human nature to defend your side of the story, but is it human nature that every infected person would hide it and place themselves in swarms of people? I can understand when there was little known that some might be out in search of a cure, but not everyone would have spread it. The one that finally broke me were the people trying to escape into a fortified Jerusalem. What did they expect to accomplish by infecting the inside? Where were the stories of the people who locked themselves away or killed themselves to save humanity? There are instances later in the novel of zombies locked in houses, possibly they are the ones who tried to hide it, but there weren't enough of those stories for my taste.

There were also too many stories of exploitation. It seemed like everyone was out to make money off the fear without a care that they were making the situation worse (and every country resolved to take care of the zombies with the same plan). Maybe I have a greater faith in humanity than Brooks, but I wanted more stories of people trying to help and stop the spread. Maybe Brooks focused on what made the situation worse to make me believe the worldwide spread, but in the end it made me fight against the probability that a zombie outbreak would take over the world. Once it reached its critical mass yes, but in the beginning I struggled with the building of this as a worldwide phenomena. Or maybe, my rational mind was fighting the story because really, a zombie apocalypse is about the scariest thing I can imagine.

There were a few other things I struggled with. At times I found it hard to wrap my mind around how many zombies were in a particular location, where they could have come from, especially at sea. For as vast as the ocean is, a submarine could be swarmed with hundreds of zombies when man is a land-based creature? And if there are that many zombies out in the middle of nowhere, our interviewees really escaped with their lives? The funny thing is that the downed pilot's story was one of my favorite. That and the Japanese ones. Maybe that's because they are one of the few with close zombie encounters.

Despite some of my apprehension, I enjoyed the story. I found myself in those last minutes before I fell asleep wondering what I would do if a zombie wandered down my street or I heard of a zombie outbreak hitting our borders. That's the creepy thing about zombies is once it hits its critical mass, there is no escaping. Well that and while vampires and werewolves and unicorns are creatures you don't really believe, there's that small question in your brain about whether a zombie outbreak could happen. Like I said, I liked the creepy factor and I liked considering how the world as a whole would deal with a zombie outbreak.
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Reading Progress

01/13/2012 page 1
0.0% "I kind of wish I'd checked out the audio version. I hear it's good."

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message 1: by Kyla (new) - added it

Kyla Mahmud Sounds interesting! THanks for the in-depth review.

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