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

World War Z by Max Brooks
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's review
Sep 08, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: trashy, fiction, owned
Read in September, 2009

Besides the odd Lovecraft, this is the first horror book I've read since tearing through dozens of Stephen King novels in high school.

I really wanted to like it, but the writer had a couple of ticks that drove me crazy. First of all, the CAs - constant acronyms. Nearly every page, there's an aside in which the character who's being interviewed tells us what an acronym means. It's the worst kind of exposition. If you were gathering a comprehensive oral history of the 00s, and you were talking to someone about WMDs or 9/11, you (and they) would never, ever, ever in a million years stop to explain what those were. If someone's around to interview someone else about it, you both already know.

Others have also noted that all the characters talk the same. One thing that's refreshing about the Studs Terkel book(s) on which this is based is that every voice is remarkably different from all the others. Every single one has its verbal fingerprint. We all have things we do conversationally, whether we know it or not, to distinguish ourselves. I tend to offset subclauses in commas or parentheses, and I tend toward run-ons, God knows. Everyone does something like this. There're as many tells in what you say as in how you say it; people (like me) with lots of parentheticals are usually intellectually insecure college graduates. In Terkel, this is all perfectly obvious. But in World War Z, everyone just sounds like Max Brooks is writing a tremendously self-conscious novel.

All that said, toward the end I was kind of swept away by the narrative. The guy whose job it was to clear the underground of zombies, the Japanese otaku, some of the people here become individuated enough that you really want to read more about them, even if their self-expression is often clunky and full of Americanisms that you would never hear in the context presented. I just wish it hadn't been so badly written.

World War Z would have been perfect if it'd been presented as a series of interlocking short stories or novellas in third person. Who would want to read the otaku's story if it actually sounded as it would coming through a translator? No one. Honestly, I think Brooks just set himself too hard a task.
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Reading Progress

09/08/2009 page 120
35.09% "Impulse buy. I have a million other things I should be reading. So far, good concept poorly executed."
08/29/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Sep 19, 2009 09:21AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio My last roommate had this book sitting out in the dining room for months. He liked zombie-related things, mostly movies. A friend of his gave him a cricket bat (a la Shaun of the Dead) for his birthday for him to smash zombie skulls with when the great uprising happens...which it will...soon.

Conrad Don't kid yourself. It started a while ago.

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Conrad wrote: "Don't kid yourself. It started a while ago."

You're so right.

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Conrad You grab the shotgun, I'll find a chainsaw.

message 5: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Sep 19, 2009 02:35PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio I've heard that just yelling the words "SOCIALISM IS AWESOME" and/or "GAY MARRIAGE WILL MOLEST AND EAT YOUR CHILDREN" at the right volume and tonal frequency can make them drop like swatted flies, too--the fear mixes with the stupid to create instantaneously fatal brain aneurysms, or so I'm told. So I'll get a bullhorn as well.

Wendy Kalthoff loved your review. . you said it better that i could

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