El'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 19, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: 21st-centurylit, society-went-boom, horror
Recommended for: Rhonda (it's about zombies!)

The world was almost brought to complete destruction during what is later referred to as the Zombie War. Max Brooks fancies himself a survivor and takes it upon himself to travel the world and interview others. The book is in an interview layout, a rather interesting approach to this sort of book. The subtitle itself, An Oral History of the Zombie War, illustrates that it is and will only be in a Q&A format. This is simultaneously the book's greatest strength and its biggest weakness.

On one hand Brooks visits the far reaches of the world, encorporates politics (the chapter specifically regarding who was to blame for the outbreak and the subsequent war was by far my favorite and probably the most important when looking at our own government and military personnel) and environment all in one neat little package, all the while creating this background of a war that did not exactly exist (metaphorical comparisons excluded as I think George Romero has drilled it into our heads that we, the humans, are the real zombies, etc.). There is so much room for a great imagination. And he almost makes it, he was oh so close... but then with all of these fantastic back-drops (China and Australia and some places I may not be able to find on a map) all of the characters he "interviews" have similar tones. They all read the same way. In real life, no two people would tell their accounts of any life-changing or life-threatening experience the same way. If nothing else one person's inflection is different from the next person's. Unfortunately for Brooks there is very little contrast from one person to the next. I find it hard to believe, even following the Zombie War, that someone living in Cape Town Province in Southern Africa would more or less sound exactly like someone living in Troy, MT in the US.

Despite the blustered attempt at an entire book written in Q&A, Brooks still managed to tell a pretty decent and convincing story. His zombies were rather chilling and more than once I had to put down my lunch until I found a "safer" paragraph. I feel I learned a thing or two about what to do in a zombie attack should one, erm, actually occur. For instance if a person turns zombie while they're in the car, their IQ will not be high enough to allow them to get out of the car as they will not be intelligent enough to unbuckle the seatbelt or open the car door. However, as a human walking beside a car in which a zombie will remain forever, one must be careful as the zombie inside the car is still able to moan which, I learned, is a call to other zombies not stuck inside their cars to come and snag you. Food for thought anyway.

I'm stuck between giving this 3 or 4 stars. The lack of character distinction is the most disappointing part of the book and because I am a stickler for those sorts of things I finally decided upon the 3. Still a good read, especially for true fans of the zombie subculture.
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Reading Progress

May 19, 2008 – Shelved
Started Reading
May 23, 2008 – Shelved as: 21st-centurylit
May 23, 2008 – Finished Reading
March 23, 2011 – Shelved as: society-went-boom
October 27, 2014 – Shelved as: horror

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Leah (new) - added it

Leah I've been told that the audiobook of this is absolutely brilliant.

Just FYI :)

message 2: by Jamie (new)

Jamie I felt precisely the same way about this book--while I enjoyed it enough, I was stuck on (and disappointed in) the fact that there was so little distinction in voice and tone of each interviewee. Even when one person sounds a bit different, it doesn't feel natural...it feels like some forced methodical attribute, like making one person swear frequently. eh. Anyway, glad to see my opinion is shared.

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