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

World War Z by Max Brooks
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's review
Apr 24, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: audio, reviewed, monsters

I do not find the military or military command or structure very interesting, and this book is mostly about that, so it suffered for me from my inherent disinterest in the topic. I should have realized it was mostly about the military from the reviews I read and even from the title of the book, but I did not think that one through all the way. I listened to this on audio and it is possible that my standards were lowered by some really, really terrible audios I've listened to in the past couple of years, but I thought this was a pretty quality production. The pace was good, and even though there were accents, they didn't feel like someone making fun of an accent.

Zombies are a weird topic to write a book about because their impact is descriptive or visual. Their dialogue leaves something to be desired is what I’m saying. In a movie, you can be like, “Holy shit! The zombies are lumbering or sprinting toward the hero!” But the zombies are still interstitial to the story. The zombies are never going to sit the hero down and say, “Hey, we’re just like you and your consumerist culture. Your government scientists should have been more careful in experimenting with bioweapons, but if you learn to really believe in yourself and value your soul and the people around you, you could still save humanity.” Nope. A vampire might say that (but substitute consumerist with pleasure-driven) in a vampire story, and some old dude is going to say that in a zombie story, but a zombie is not going to say it.

So, then, I think you lose a little in a book because of its linear nature. A movie can have tons of things going on at once – a zombie in the background chasing the love interests as they confess their undying affection, a group of survivors huddled in a house discussing next plans as the zombies bang on the windows. Things like that. In a book, the zombie action sort of fades while the survivors discuss what to do next. Then zombies come back, then dialogue, then zombies. It’s easy to lose the visceral nature of the zombies.

But, at the same time, I think this book does a pretty good job of looking at different governmental structures and what their responses would be to a zombie attack. I’m not exactly sure how helpful that is, and its entertainment value was an energetic meh to me, but not bad. I think my favorite stories were the pilot and the Palestinian refugee.
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Reading Progress

April 24, 2012 – Started Reading
April 24, 2012 – Shelved
May 5, 2012 –
50.0% "GAH! Another patron has requested this item!!! Annoying."
May 7, 2012 – Shelved as: audio
May 9, 2012 – Finished Reading
May 26, 2012 – Shelved as: reviewed
July 6, 2012 – Shelved as: monsters

Comments (showing 1-27 of 27) (27 new)

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message 1: by Jamie (new) - added it

Jamie Curious to hear what you think of this book. (It's been on my radar for a while...)

Meredith Holley I thought it was okay. Not totally my thing, though.

Miriam The zombies are never going to sit the hero down and say, “Hey, we’re just like you and your consumerist culture. Your government scientists should have been more careful in experimenting with bioweapons

Well, there was this one B-movie where some folks hanging out in a bar are accidentally exposed to an experimental bioweapon and become zombies. But they seem normal to themselves and one another, so they think everyone else has gone crazy.

Meredith Holley hahaha, that sounds awesome! Do you remember what it was called?

message 5: by Jamie (new) - added it

Jamie that does sound pretty cool (although the fact that you called it a "B-movie" makes me think it was "high-concept, poor execution").

message 6: by Miriam (last edited May 12, 2012 03:42PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Miriam B-movies are low-budget genre films. They're not necessarily high concept. In fact, I think the category excludes things like Arthouse, which may also be low budget.

I think the title was something unelaborate, like "Aaaah! Zombies!" but I'm not certain.
My favorite zombie film, though, is "Night of the Living Dorks."

Malin I felt that is was mostly a book on war and human nature with a zombie backdrop. Personally I liked it quite a bit, but the "zombie" part in the title is almost a bit misleading in some ways. Zombies is not even really what the book is about if you ask me.

Meredith Holley Yeah, I agree with that. But, I think the zombies are important in inspiring the analysis of international politics and military response.

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh! I liked Ahhh! Zombies! or whatever it was called, Miriam.

Meredith Holley Found it!

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

It's on netflix, right?

Meredith Holley Yes! But, it wasn't coming up before - I think because I typed in too many As. It is Aaah! Zombies!!

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

It's hard to know how many As to put in your Aaaah!s.

Meredith Holley You're telling me.

Jason Huh. I kinda thought this was gonna be like a book form of Zombieland.

message 16: by Meredith (last edited Dec 27, 2012 07:34PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Meredith Holley Not really. It's pretty socio-political. And, you know, apocalyptic, but it seemed somewhat educational, or at least conceptually realistic.

Jason You know what I just realized? I was thinking of the other Max Brooks one: The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead which, from my understanding of reading the dust jacket, is more of a humorous take on surviving a zombie apocalypse.

Meredith Holley Yeah, I have that one, but I haven't read it yet. I think maybe more funny? But, I don't think it has a storyline, does it?

Jason I was expecting just a collection of short survivalist stories, written humorously. But that is only a guess.

Meredith Holley I just looked through it a little bit. It's more like a regular scientific survival guide. I think it is put in the humor section of bookstores based on the idea that it is funny to prepare for a zombie apocalypse. And maybe the somewhat earnest detail is funny? Or maybe I don't get the joke.

Jason Like survivalist theories using the scientific method? That sounds like it could be interesting, having a hypothesis disproved by being eaten. Not sure about your sense of humor—did you find Shaun of the Dead funny?

Meredith Holley Um, like the survival guide my friend's grandpa used to live in the woods for a while.

Shaun of the Dead is amazing.

Jason Sparrow wrote: "Shaun of the Dead is amazing."

I second that emotion.

message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

The survival guide is real straight, like a very nerdy take on how to survive zombies. I think it's shelved in humor because Max is Mel's son.

Woot Zombieland.

Jason MAX IS MEL'S SON?? As in Blading Saddles Mel? Damn, I need to do a better job reading those dust jackets!

Meredith Holley It kind of seems like if D&D guides were shelved in humor to me. Like, fill in the joke.

message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

Sparrow wrote: "It kind of seems like if D&D guides were shelved in humor to me. Like, fill in the joke."

Hahaha. Right on.

Yup, that Mel. It's trippy once you know that.

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