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Discussion > World War Z - some spoilers

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message 1: by Denise, Coalition Overlord (new)

Denise | 120 comments Mod
"The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years."

Post comments here!

message 2: by Duder (last edited Feb 02, 2009 02:51PM) (new)

Duder | 3 comments Well I'm pretty well into the book and I'm really liking it, lots of great imagery and details. my only (very minor) gripe is that some of the survivor interviewees sound really similar, kinda pulls me out of the world a little bit.

message 3: by Brigid (new)

Brigid (BPres) | 7 comments This book keenly disects Western culture. By breaking down society, we become aware of all the things we take for granted, like the cult of celebrity, individualistic and materialistic lifestyles, and a distain for manual labor. I think the best thing about the book is how silly it makes modern life seem compaired to past civilizations that had to work so hard just to survive.

message 4: by Dram (new)

Dram | 21 comments I've got a lot of respect for how well the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is conveyed.

message 5: by ED (new)

ED (stuffbyed) | 2 comments I read this two years ago, but it's stuck with me for the most part. Very, very addictive read.

One of the tiny details I liked was how Stewart/Colbert is at the celebrity safe house, not to mention how the other "celebrities" are portrayed.

message 6: by Dram (new)

Dram | 21 comments ED wrote: "I read this two years ago, but it's stuck with me for the most part. Very, very addictive read.

One of the tiny details I liked was how Stewart/Colbert is at the celebrity safe house, not to menti..."

Yeah I figured it was either Stewart/Colbert or O'Reilly.

message 7: by Brigid (new)

Brigid (BPres) | 7 comments I started reading and realized my current Zombie Defence plan is based heavily on places and people that are not in the city I just moved to.

My new plan is strategic, but I don't have the team in place that I had before. Zombie awareness is not a priority here. Does anyone have a Defense plan that dosen't involve anyone else?

The stress on community and how people need to support each other in order to survive in this book makes me question the strength of my plan.

message 8: by Dram (new)

Dram | 21 comments Brigid wrote: "I started reading and realized my current Zombie Defence plan is based heavily on places and people that are not in the city I just moved to.

My new plan is strategic, but I don't have the team ..."

my plan is super out of date. planning on an update when I finish. Near as I can remember it was entirely solo.

message 9: by Kertap (new)

Kertap | 3 comments I'd be interested to hear thoughts on the Redeker/South Africa plan.

Also the community stuff is very similar to what John Robb calls a resilient community in his book Brave New War The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization.

message 10: by Denise, Coalition Overlord (new)

Denise | 120 comments Mod
Great discussions here guys! I can't wait for everyone to finish this so that we can really get into the meat of things.

As you read, a few questions I'm curious about (no spoilers please)...

1. What was your favorite story? Mine was the blind Japanese badass. Coz it was BADASS.

2. So what IS your zombie survival plan?

message 11: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (firefly99) | 27 comments I'm about 100 pages in, and so far the story that I reacted to the most (not sure you could call it my favorite...) was Sharon, the woman who has the mind of a child. The way she describes being trapped in that church, acting it out with sound effects.... it was chilling. On a side note, this would make a great stage play, as a series of monolouges/interviews.... God, I'd love to work on that production! More later as I get further in....

message 12: by Dram (new)

Dram | 21 comments Kristi wrote: "I'm about 100 pages in, and so far the story that I reacted to the most (not sure you could call it my favorite...) was Sharon, the woman who has the mind of a child. The way she describes being tr..."
I wanted really badly to like that part, but I felt a strong pull beyond the fourth wall reading that scene. It would have been chilling if I could have kept my head buried in the book, but I just didn't find it very believable.

message 13: by Duder (new)

Duder | 3 comments Yeah that was one of the scenes that I couldn't get into, it read like the author acting like the survivor.

I guess my favorite would also have to be the blind badass along with the internet addict since they interweave. Close behind those would be the family that packed up and went north, the celebrity house, and the cargo pilot that went down behind enemy lines.

message 14: by Victor (new)

Victor (Mutant_Enemy) | 1 comments This is probably just the animal lover in me but I really liked the story where they discussed how they used dogs to their advantage against the zombies. Was really neat to see what they could but was also terrifying to think of the ones who weren't as lucky. T_T

message 15: by Cameron (new)

Cameron (flanked) | 18 comments Dram wrote: "Kristi wrote: "I'm about 100 pages in, and so far the story that I reacted to the most (not sure you could call it my favorite...) was Sharon, the woman who has the mind of a child. The way she des..."

I really like that part as well, especially since the town that Sharon is from, Wichita, KS is my hometown. I can only imagine people there rushing to their churches on Z-day.

My plan isn't really put together at all. Luckily, I live on the second floor of a psuedo-apartment building with external wooden stairs - easy to destroy on Z-Day. That's about where my plan stops, though. Man, I need to go gun shopping and start improving my marksmanship skills.

Oh, and I'm also training heavily with Left 4 Dead.

message 16: by Cameron (new)

Cameron (flanked) | 18 comments Check out this thingie I found:

message 17: by Daniel (new)

Daniel (arcys) | 3 comments Mod
Victor wrote: "This is probably just the animal lover in me but I really liked the story where they discussed how they used dogs to their advantage against the zombies. Was really neat to see what they could but ..."

This one was very good along with the blind Japanese man. I liked how the previous interviewee ended up with the guy in the mountains.

I know this will sound a little off, but this book brings up patriotic emotions right along side the "holy shit I need a Lobo" ones. >__>

message 18: by Brigid (new)

Brigid (BPres) | 7 comments I just started reading the Homefront USA section. Up to this point it seemed like the survival stories were more on a individual level (a family, the Indian General detenating the blast by hand, a commune).

Government seemed to bueacratic to have a swift responce to the threat. It wasn't until Zombies were eveywhere that there was a drastic change in policy. Then they wre only able to save a few people and start over. Arcy is right, this frontier survival spirit is very importatn to American patriotism. However, why can't we rely on the government to preven the problem?

Does anyone's defence plan involve relying on organized government aid (police, army, ect) or just hunker down and go it alone with other civilians?

message 19: by Dram (last edited Feb 11, 2009 08:34AM) (new)

Dram | 21 comments I've never even considered factoring government aid into the equation. My main plan is to build a bunker in the house I retire to, then never tell anyone about it ever. Unpopulated neighborhood. Six months of food or more. Weapons and digging equipment for tunneling.

There are a lot of interesting tutorials on zombie-proofing your house inconspicuously. Might look into that too, and keep the bunker as a last defense sort of thing.

message 20: by Will (new)

Will (thewilled) | 4 comments I just finished this book a few minutes ago myself. While I enjoyed the book I found the way it was written made it difficult to just sit and read straight through, the different stories and such just kind of jolted me right out of it. That said, I find it difficult to figure out which story I enjoyed the most. I kind of relate to the guy from Japan that was obsessed with the internet and information, but beyond that the guy that trained as a dog handler with the dogs was very good. The one, I think with the girl in the church (not 100% sure it was this story...was one of the females), felt the most like what I'd expect out of a zombie book.

message 21: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (firefly99) | 27 comments Just finished. I think it's hard to pick a favorite story, mostly because the stories were so different, but also because the book is more about over-arcing themes than individual stories. I did like the way the soldier at Yonkers was also part of the war across america. I also thought it was interesting that the book looked at the war, the causes and the consequences from many different perspectives, civilian, military, different countries and cultures... The fact that zombies were a global problem was different than some other things I've read. I also enjoyed the discussion of dogs' roles in the military, what they were trained to do, and the connection they had with the handlers. I really enjoyed this book.

message 22: by Denise, Coalition Overlord (last edited Feb 16, 2009 08:06AM) (new)

Denise | 120 comments Mod
The stories about the soldier dogs were really sad to me because I love dogs and it reminded me of one article I read a long time ago about a soldier who was partnered up with a "wardog" and was eventually forced to leave him behind (I believe it was in Asia). I think he tried to go back for him but for some reason he couldn't.

I can see this book becoming a great movie if treated right, since it leaves an awful lot for flexibility since it is a global problem. So many stories can be explored. If film makers can resist turning this into a gore-fest and focus on the political, military, and personal aspects then I think it would make for one of the best zombie movies. What do you guys think?

message 23: by Will (new)

Will (thewilled) | 4 comments According to the grapevine the movie is done different from the book (of course, makes sense in this case) but the Max Brooks says it looks amazing, and it is being written by J. Michael Straczynski, which would indicate a good leaning towards the social and political aspects of the book, versus an out and out zombie gore fest Romero style.

message 24: by Mike (new)

Mike | 18 comments Finished. I loved it. I never got into Zombies in any way. I always thought they were a stupid concept. This book taught me how to fear Zombies. Of course, anything in the millions and billions of numbers like the Zombie army probably should be feared. No, that's not a metaphor for the Chinese.

message 25: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 17, 2009 01:45PM) (new)

Just finished the book this morning, and it was fantastic! I really enjoyed the bit about the "veterans of Yonkers" and the last story ended the book perfectly, but picking a favorite is difficult.
Also, I had never considered the aspect of zombies roaming about on the ocean floor, and I found the stories concerning that fascinating.
This is a book I will definitely reread several times.

message 26: by Denise, Coalition Overlord (new)

Denise | 120 comments Mod
Lots of good feedback so far, hooray!

Underwater zombies are definitely new, although they never did explain why they are so resilient to damage. Everything else (organic, anyway) disintegrates and falls apart underwater, why not them? Seems like it should have been just moldering bits and pieces floating around after a while.

Keep in mind that we only have until the end of next week to wrap this bad boy up! Get to reading please, those that haven't finished yet!

message 27: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Wilson (KravStorm) | 3 comments I think the story that impacted me the most was the one that the girl who moved to canada w/ her family to escape the zombies. I can totally see my father-in-law being the kind of guy who would pack up everything he could and go north.
Though the story of the K9 Units and their partners was really impacting as well.
I loved it in its entireity. I did discover that you shouldn't read it right before bed though... otherwise you have Zombie dreams.

message 28: by Brian (new)

Brian | 18 comments Heh, I posted this on the Hijinks Ensue forum by mistake. I guess I'll post it agian here.

I started listening to the audiobook today at work and I really like it so far, they've got surprisingly good voice talent doing all the story tellers. I recognized Mark Hamill and Alan Alda, and the rest are all good with the exception of Joe Mohammad, the volunteer in the wheel chair, he tries to mix some sincere drama with 'street' dialogue and I don't think it quite works. I was really surprised by the depth of the book, how Brooks actually succeeds tying this silly scifi monster into all these big political themes, it got me thinking about disaster relief and Katrina (I live in Alabama, so there's definitely a little resonance there)

I think my favorite part so far has been the battle at Yonkers. How many times have you tried to solve a tough problem with all the wrong tools?

My Z-Plan, coincidentally, is to drive South all the way until I get to 12 mile long Dauphin Island. I'll barricade the only bridge into town, fortify a few houses and subsist off canned goods and fish for the rest of my life. Every house is on pilings, so a simple rope ladder keeps the crowds at bay while I sleep.

message 29: by Dram (new)

Dram | 21 comments Misterworld wrote: "Heh, I posted this on the Hijinks Ensue forum by mistake. I guess I'll post it agian here.

I started listening to the audiobook today at work and I really like it so far, they've got surprisingl..."

Either place is equally valid for the discussion I guess.
Along those lines, I've been thinking for next month maybe we could try something a bit different. I think we should do the voting here, but the actual discussion on the forums. It's less remote (I'm scared outside of my hole) and has a more robust system. Spoiler tags would be a plus too.

Also, I think we might want to try setting midpoints through the book each week (adjusted for the first week so people can get the book, of course) so we can discuss it throughout the month instead of throwing out our thoughts from random parts of the text.

Just my two cents, enjoying the club!

message 30: by Kertap (new)

Kertap | 3 comments I never gave much thought to a Z-Plan but I am now. I'm thinking of manufacturing some form of leather armor capable of withstanding zombie bites. Would toughened leather be enough? What could I do for a helmet?

message 31: by Nikki (new)

Nikki (notmandatory) | 10 comments I'm about halfway through, and so far I'm digging it. Its much easier for me to start and stop as other things arise than a traditional "short story anthology". I'm going to hold of on my comments on which anecdotes are my favorites until I'm finished. Should be a couple of days.

message 32: by Dram (last edited Feb 17, 2009 06:19PM) (new)

Dram | 21 comments Kertap wrote: "I never gave much thought to a Z-Plan but I am now. I'm thinking of manufacturing some form of leather armor capable of withstanding zombie bites. Would toughened leather be enough? What could I do..."
The leather armor depends on whether or not you're dealing with standard reanimated corpses or ones with feral strength. Remember that a zombie isn't going to care about its teeth, it'll bite until the jaw itself breaks. You might want to sew steel circles into the leather.

As for a helmet, go with something metal but lightweight and with a large field of vision. No one's going to eat your eyes, and you'll need full maneuverability. Either look for something with a flared neck guard or add a cowl made of something strong but made to be flexible. Chain mail works, but try for something more lightweight if you can that offers the same level of twist to it, like concentric heavy leather bands worn thick enough that they can't be bit through and loosely enough that they can slide across one another.

As for gloves, I probably wouldn't bother. The odds against Zack biting your hands are remote, because they're usually too stupid to do anything more than lunge awkwardly at your core or neck. The hands are just feathers flying around their field of vision, and will only end up in their mouths if you start swatting them or it's all they can reach. You'll need full tactile control over your weapon, so if you really feel you need something go with open fingertips. Most plate gauntlets will support this, though I'd never waste weight-allocation on something that heavy.

message 33: by Brigid (new)

Brigid (BPres) | 7 comments I lstened to the audio book at work last summer. i agree, the voice talent was excellent, and Alan Alda rocks my socks in general. The version I listened to was abridged, but I do think that havign all the different actors interpretations helps break up the stories and give them a little more individuality and personality.

As far as a movie or stage version, this audio book seems like a pretty good start. A stage version with a limited cast playing multiple roles and working in dialogue would be pretty cool. Like The Vagina Monologues, but with Zombies instead of Vaginas.

message 34: by Denise, Coalition Overlord (new)

Denise | 120 comments Mod
Brigid wrote: "... but with Zombies instead of Vaginas."

GENIUS! Copyright that shit!

message 35: by Roe (new)

Roe | 6 comments So after driving to five different bookstores... I have it. Digging it so far - being able to read a couple quick stories between classes is great (and to read some while I should be paying attention... even better!). Between this and playing Left 4 Dead, I, like so many others, feel I will need to shore up my zombie survival plan. Stock up on harpoons, ammo, bladed ammo, bladed boomerangs. Locate nearby farms that have horses that could be used for transportation and emergency 'here, zombies! take horsey meat!' exit. Perhaps look into the upsides/downside of having a machine gun attached to my leg...

But, yeah, so far, really good. Do we have any word on what next month's book may be?

message 36: by Denise, Coalition Overlord (new)

Denise | 120 comments Mod
Roe wrote: "Do we have any word on what next month's book may be? "

A post will be up for that very shortly!

message 37: by Vicki (last edited Feb 19, 2009 01:28PM) (new)

Vicki Delaski (vdelaski) | 11 comments Norman Cousins once said that "history is a vast early-warning system." I have never read a book, fiction or non-fiction, that drives that idea home better than "World War Z." I have finished the book....twice and have read 3/4 of the book again! Every time I reread a part I notice something new that is really not new.

message 38: by Vicki (last edited Feb 19, 2009 01:28PM) (new)

Vicki Delaski (vdelaski) | 11 comments My favorite stories were Sharon - excellent example of severe post traumatic stress and psychological retardation in children; Arthur Sinclair, Jr. (Home Front, USA) - the issues with white collar/blue collar actually switching classes due to needs of the population; All three of the Todd Waino stories - Yonkers, fighting with proper equipment and feral children, feral animals and quislings; finally, the K-9 Corp. The only story I had major problems with was the old, blind gardner surviving in the mountains for years by himself.

message 39: by Sean (new)

Sean (Sean_Mc) | 9 comments I should hit page 220 or so tonight, and then finish it up tomorrow, so here's my take so far: I'm finding it very easy to be taken in by the story (about an hour ago I went to the window 'just to check'), mostly because of how the story is broken up. It feels like someone transcribed a Ken Burns documentary. My favorite story so far is the Battle of Yonkers - what it was like to be a cog in a broken machine.

As for my survival plan, I have a few necessary items, like a 9mm, .22 rifle, Lobo (they're very common - not sure why the book made them sound like a new discovery), pocketknife, and a generic survival kit. My hand-and-a-half sword would make me feel badass, but its usefulness probably wouldn't justify the weight and inaccuracy. I still need to work on the destination though.

message 40: by Sean (new)

Sean (Sean_Mc) | 9 comments I think a stage version of it could go very well, with maybe some backdrop images that change each time the speaker changes. For a movie version, I would want it to look gritty, and very much a "documentary", not a Hollywood blockbuster starring Will Smith. It could be done, and fairly easily I would think. Unfortunately, I don't ever see that happening.

message 41: by Roe (new)

Roe | 6 comments A stage version or even a comic version in the same idea as the 'Flight' series could be interesting - a different artist for each story and a few volumes of stories.

message 42: by Cameron (new)

Cameron (flanked) | 18 comments I refinished the book yesterday and liked it still. It didn't seem as powerful, but that thing happens to me sometimes when I re-read novels.

A story I found on Slashdot reminded me of the chapter about the Australian astronaut. Maybe the Great Panic is really happening...

message 43: by Dram (new)

Dram | 21 comments I really need to finish this thing, but my favorites so far are, as Aaron said, the North Korean disappearance, the astronauts, and the nuclear submarine.

message 44: by Denise, Coalition Overlord (new)

Denise | 120 comments Mod
Aaron wrote: "The idea that there could either be a whole country flourishing underground or overrun by 23 million dead is ..."

Well, if they were overrun by zombies, the book would just 300 pages of "braaaaaains..." ;)

I almost forgot about the North Koreans. Pretty ingenious touch.

Besides this book (and the accompanying Zombie Survival Guide), are there any other zombie books out there that you've read and enjoyed? I must admit that before WWZ, I didn't even know this sub-genre existed.

Also, what's your favorite zombie movie? Do you enjoy the realistic, explanation-laden types (Rage Virus) or do you prefer the sillier old-fashioned brain-obsessed monsters? Do you think zombies should be fast like in 28 Days Later, or slow and bumbling like in the older movies?

It probably doesn't count as a movie but my current favorite zombie film is Dead Set. We talked a lot about this in the HE Podcast but if you missed it, it's a 5-part TV series aired in the UK. Make sure to check it out if you can.

message 45: by Dram (new)

Dram | 21 comments Aaron wrote: "I never really got into zombie literature before Max Brooks. He's the only author whose works I've read that have captured the essence of what makes zombies frightening.

This is one of the first pieces of Zomb-Lit I've read, and I'm really enjoying it, but I can't say that the book seems particularly frightening to me.
I might just be a bit jaded, but in order for a work to be frightening to me there has to be substantial character development first so I have something to lose. The format made that kind of impossible.

message 46: by Brian (new)

Brian | 18 comments I'm afraid the audio book is slightly abridged, or maybe my copy was. There's nothing in it about the Australians or North Korea, unless they were only briefly mentioned and not given their own chapters. I'm grabbing the full book soon because I liked it so much, so I'll get to those parts pretty soon.

I think there are a lot more zombie movies than books, but I'll read almost anything by Joe Lansdale. He's most well-known for writing Bubba Ho-Tep, but he's got some really cool, creepy short stories with the living dead in them. One of the best was "Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man's Back," which has an odd variation on the zombie, as after a nuclear war plants mutate and devour people from the inside, with vines pulling their muscles and moving the host bodies close enough to capture prey. It's a great angle because the protagonist is a scientist in the defense industry who feels responsible for starting the war, destroying the human race and leaving his own daughter to die as he fled to his government-allocated fallout shelter. Like most of the best zombie stories, it focuses more on his guilt and his wife's passive aggressive loathing, the human drama more than the monsters themselves. The guilt and hate manifests in great ways, but I can't say more without spoiling it.

It's a similar setup to one of my other favorite horror stories, "I Am Legend," which is actually about vampires but they're mostly forgettable in the book if you ask me. The fun of these stories comes from how the survivors cope with a crisis, the monsters only pop up again to remind us of the peril that moves the survivors' drama forward. It makes us question our own resolve, our own mettle, if we could overcome a similar situation. It's more colorful than a hurricane or an earthquake or a terrorist attack, so it's easier to put the book down and feel safe that way.

All that said, I thought Planet Terror was pretty kick-ass.

message 47: by Denise, Coalition Overlord (new)

Denise | 120 comments Mod
Four more days, to our slackers out there! :)

message 48: by Vicki (last edited Feb 24, 2009 04:52PM) (new)

Vicki Delaski (vdelaski) | 11 comments I think because the "War" was over and these were survivor stories I didn't find this book scary. I mean, they survived to tell their story. What I found terrorizing was how all the different scenerios, political, social, economic, religious, medical, military etc. were so believable! It seemed spookily (is that a word) realistic.

message 49: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (firefly99) | 27 comments I have to say, I've never really been into zombie movies or books before this one, and I loved this one. I will definitely be looking into more zombie things in the future.
I agree with Aaron... while the book itself wasn't very scary (except for the Sharon woman-stuck-as-a-kid story), it really did get at what makes zombies so scary. You really get a sense of how terrified everyone was during the war.
On a side note, I've kind of been writing a basic idea of a stage play. I'm picturing a mostly bare stage, split in 2. The scenes switch from side to side, one side lights up with the interviewee there as the other sidfe fades, the interviewer moves back and forth. Very basic sets, minor props that can be quickly carried on and off by actors (but don't tell the actors that's the plan... Can you tell I was a techie in a past life?) Mostly monologues, maybe with a little dialogue... move the prologe/preface/intro to the end... I've spent way to much time thinking about this.

message 50: by Self-propelled (new)

Self-propelled | 40 comments I though World War Z was good, not great. It had some great ideas - the surivivor-story structure, the defeat of the conventional military forces, etc; but few of the suriviors really came alive for me. It seemed like Brooks' insights into the real-world implications of Zombie armageddon - like the dangers of frozen zombies and the need to keep away from the coasts - worked a bit better than his characterisation.

As much as I agree with Denise (in the podcast) about the awesomeness of Zatoichi, the wandering-blind-sensei figure is such a familiar trope that it needs something special to make it feel fresh, and I didn't really feel that with Ijiro.

I thought the quislings were a really good idea and agree with Aaron about the North Koreans - leaving their fate unexplained was a great touch.

The only other zombie-related thing I've read is the excellent comic series The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman, about a band of survivors who face as much danger from other survivors as they do from the zombies. The characters in this are so well done that it hurts when they die - and they die distressingly often.

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