Swaps55's Reviews > World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

World War Z by Max Brooks
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Aug 03, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: zombies, scifi-fantasy
Recommended for: Everyone. You don't have to like zombies, you just have to be able to stand them.

this book. is brutally fantastic. i'm not sure if i've ever used that particular combination of descriptors before, but it fits. this is the same guy who wrote the "zombie survival guide," though i will have to rely on the husband to tell me how much of that manual informs this book, as he has been reading that one. both books were his christmas presents, btw, and i had no real mission to read either, but i started idly flipping through world war z out of boredom, and the next thing you know i had finished it. zombies have only recently been part of my life, and unfortunately, if there is a class of experts regarding this particular "virus," i belong in it. this comes from being married to someone who scouts out every place we go, be it wal-mart, the mall, a restaurant, for possible weapons, fortification sites, and plausible escape routes in the event of a zombie invasion. these things invade my dreams, frighten the living hell out of me, but still, this book rocked my socks.

what makes this book interesting is that it takes the form of an honest to god historical account, complete with footnotes. the author chronicles individual accounts of a zombie infestation that sweeps the entire world and puts the human race on the brink of extinction. it takes itself absolutely seriously from cover to cover, which is part of what makes it so successful. it's written for an audience who presumably knows the basic history of the war, which of course, we do not. it does not explain the timeline, it does not define certain events, just refers to them as though you will recognize what the speaker is referring to. you are expected to catch on, read between the lines, fill in the blanks on your own, which fuels your imagination while simultaneously leaving you begging for more. it's just the right amount of information, i think, because even though i would have liked to see a basic chronology of events, have some background information available, i think the writer was right to give me less than what i think i need, because having that information might actually detract in the end.

unlike the traditional zombie movies (the exception that comes to mind being the latest romero flick, land of the dead), this looks beyond the immediate desperation for simple survival, and explores the effects on economy, military, government, commerce, trade, etc. things you might not normally consider (if you spend time considering the fallout of a zombie infestation), such as what refugee patterns would emerge and how that would jeopardize different nations, the fortune that would suddenly be made in human trafficking, the impact on our oceans and atmosphere, which nations are tumbled to the ground and which ones rise from the ashes to gain prosperity and power, the desperate yet woefully ineffectual efforts made by civilians to survive (when they do not have survival skills), the spread of the virus through infected organ transplants, the zombie threat underwater, the fortunes made by pharmeceutical companies off of fake cures, and a LOT more. aside from these unique and fascinating perspectives, brooks writes a painfully honest account of the human factor. the danger facing humanity was not just from zombies: it was humanity itself. the psychological damage incurred by soldiers, witnesses, survivors...he paints a clear picture of how merely avoiding a zombie bite was not enough to keep you alive.

it's brilliantly imaginative, utterly fascinating on all levels, and so worth the read even if you have no interest in the living dead. though, if you are sensitive to nightmares, be on your guard. i've been dreaming about this stuff like crazy. the past couple of nights.
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