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Book Club > March 2011: World War Z (warning: spoilers!)

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message 1: by Liesl (new)

Liesl (jcpdiesel21) | 34 comments Mod
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War has topped the poll voting and will serve as our Book Club pick for March! I was originally going to choose this in the first place, but wasn't sure if the zombie theme would go over well with everyone. My zombie-loving husband will be overjoyed since he's been trying to get me to read this for a long time.

Feel free to share your thoughts and begin the discussion here!


message 2: by Tracey (new)

Tracey | 17 comments Yay, I love this book!

What should we do about spoilers? Should we wait until the middle of the month or so to give people a chance to get through it?


message 3: by Jamie (new)

Jamie | 4 comments Maybe we could have separate threads for different sections of the book? And the thread for the last section can also discuss the book as a whole?

I'm excited, I really liked this book. I'm interested to read what other people think about it.


message 4: by Liesl (last edited Mar 01, 2011 05:11PM) (new)

Liesl (jcpdiesel21) | 34 comments Mod
Goodness, I hadn't even considered spoilers. Since everyone is going to be at different points in the book throughout the month, I figured that most people wouldn't visit the discussion thread until they finished the entire book and thought that one thread where spoilers were fair game would be sufficient. Or are people more interested in discussing as they read? Maybe I'm too used to my in-person book club format. I'm open to your thoughts and suggestions.


message 5: by Tracey (new)

Tracey | 17 comments The way we did it at another online book club I belonged to, was the thread was open until a given date - usually the 15th - for "general" sorts of discussion. Then, on the 15th, you were allowed to post with spoilers, and people who hadn't finished knew to stay out of the thread (or they could join in if they didn't care about being spoiled).

One thing I love about this book is the little details that tie some of the stories together. Also, I like that there are still unknowns, which would be true 10 years after any major war.


message 6: by Liesl (last edited Mar 15, 2011 06:28AM) (new)

Liesl (jcpdiesel21) | 34 comments Mod
Tracey: thanks for the tip! I think that would be the easiest and fairest way to run things. We'll do the exact same thing: keep the discussion general and spoiler-free until the 15th (that's a good halfway point), and on the 15th, spoilers ahoy!


message 7: by Amy! (new)

Amy! (missamylibrarian) | 13 comments I just started reading this over the weekend, and I'm 3/4 done! I couldn't believe how quick it went, but I love the snippets of stories from all the different people.


message 8: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (blue_canary) | 9 comments I am really, really loving this. The only one I could find at the library was the large-print, which only makes me feel like I'm reading faster.

I'm a sucker for any kind of apocalyptic story. My favorite parts so far are when things are just getting started, and nobody knows for sure what's really going on. I love that eerie suspense!


message 9: by Angela (new)

Angela (alwatkins) | 7 comments I like how Max Brooks has managed to give all of his 'interviewees' a distinct voice; you really get the feeling he has talked to different people.


message 10: by Liesl (new)

Liesl (jcpdiesel21) | 34 comments Mod
I've read a little over 100 pages so far, and I am enjoying the book, although not quite as much as I thought I would. The subject matter is gripping and terrifying, and some of the stories so far have been genuinely terrifying. The format is definitely unique, and I like how all of the individual interviews tie together to tell what happened from so many different perspectives.

However, I am starting to wonder if Brooks is planning on revisiting any of these individuals later in the book since having so many individual voices to follow is starting to become overwhelming. I often have to flip back to the beginning of each section to reread which point of view I am reading from and what the person's background is, which makes the book's flow a bit disjointed.


message 11: by Stephen (new)

Stephen (stephentrendy) | 3 comments I too find the book's flow really disjointed. I have had a hard time following and remembering what I'm reading and where they are from and what piece of the war they were involved in - I'm near the end of the book. So far though, it's pretty interesting.


message 12: by Amy! (new)

Amy! (missamylibrarian) | 13 comments Yeah, by the end, I pretty much didn't remember anyone's name or if we had heard from them before, with a few exceptions who for whatever reason stuck out.


message 13: by Liesl (new)

Liesl (jcpdiesel21) | 34 comments Mod
We've reached the halfway point of the month, so feel free to post any book-related spoilers in this thread.


message 14: by Jamie (new)

Jamie | 4 comments (Mild spoilers ahead. Be ye warned.)

I thought the book a bit disjointed as well. It made it harder for me to get through quickly, I could put the book down after one chapter and not come back to it for awhile. I came around to the style by the end. Even though the individual stories are all disjointed, I like that they slowly build into one big story, piece by piece. There was still a sense of building climax and resolution, even though it was somewhat scattered.

It's been a few years since I read this, but I still remember being really unsettled by the story of the girl (Jessica?) whose family drives to Canada with a bunch of other families. In end-of-the-world fiction, I think it's the total disintegration of society that freaks me out even more than the zombies or vampires or whatever creature is causing the apocalypse.

Has anyone listened to the audio book? I've heard good things about it.


message 15: by Amy! (new)

Amy! (missamylibrarian) | 13 comments Yeah, that girl's story was definitely one of the worst. Anything that drives people to eat other people is really terrifying. I also had a hard time with the Russian soldier woman who took part in the Decimations; I don't know that I could live with myself after voting to kill one of my friends.

The only section where I felt the author missed the mark a bit was when the narrator interviewed the Feral girl who had the mind of a 14 year old. I don't know many 14 year olds, so maybe I'm wrong, but I felt like she was written much younger than 14.


message 16: by Tracey (new)

Tracey | 17 comments I thought the feral child was mentally younger than 14. The incident she lived through happened when she was about 4-6, which fits with the way she told it. Also, did you catch the reference to her story at the end? When the soldier is talking about the sweep through the country, there's a throw-away line about about how they found a church where it was obvious the adults killed the children first. I loved the parts that tied the world's story into a whole. think it's the Canadian woman who references the Iranian pilot who told the story about the nuclear exchange between Pakistan and Iran.

I also liked the loose ends, like the question of what happened to North Korea, and the fact that Iceland was still a white zone. It made it seem much more real.

I think the creepiest thing for me was the drug executive who was utterly unrepentant about selling a completely worthless pill, and who was hiding out in Antarctica. (But whose lease renewal with the Russians, according to one of the officials who was interviewed, just might be refused. Heh.)


message 17: by Liesl (new)

Liesl (jcpdiesel21) | 34 comments Mod
Sharon, the feral girl, had a mental age of 4, not 14, so I thought the language in that portion rang fairly true. I caught the reference that the adults were killing the children first, and that was downright unnerving. That particular portion coupled with Jesika's journey to Canada with her parents have stuck with me the most after reading them. The zombie aspect of the book is interesting enough, but how the people react to this apocalyptic situation is even more fascinating.


message 18: by Amy! (new)

Amy! (missamylibrarian) | 13 comments Well, then Max Brooks did a great job with Sharon's bit. :) I suppose I should have gone back to double check once I realized what I thought I read didn't match what I was reading.

I think the reactions of regular people are what make zombie literature so fascinating to me. I like reading about how people deal with something so uncontrollable, what lengths they go to to avoid being infected and how they end up treating other people they encounter.


message 19: by Lian (new)

Lian | 4 comments I totally missed that the adults were killing the children! Wow, I thought they were going for the zombies.

I really enjoyed the book, and it was such a fast read. I did think he played on stereotypes a bit more than I'd have liked (as a Chinese person, I might be a bit overly sensitive to this).

The sense of dread building in the beginning was simply amazing.


message 20: by Angela (last edited Mar 19, 2011 10:33AM) (new)

Angela (alwatkins) | 7 comments I wonder if there was a specific reason for the plague starting in a remote area of China; does it play on Western fears about how secretive China is, we don't know what they're 'up to' (even though in reality everybody's spying on everybody, it's difficult to keep secrets). I know the plague also started in South Africa, but there's not as much baggage there.

I thought the book was really thorough in its coverage of cause and effect.


message 21: by Britt (new)

Britt Graves | 2 comments I must remind myself to never read a book about zombies before bed. I frighten easily.

That being said, it was a far better book than I was anticipating. The creepiness of the beginning, the despair and fear of people worldwide, no one was safe, and no one knew when it would affect them personally, discovering the best and absolute worst about people...very good stuff.

I guess I was curious as to why it was never discussed as to how it all started, just where it started. But that's nitpicky me wanting more details than are probably necessary. I blame the movie 'I Am Legend'.


message 22: by Tracey (new)

Tracey | 17 comments I actually liked that Brooks didn't include information about how the Zombie Plague started. The book is written about a decade after the war ended, so it's realistic that they don't have it figured out yet.


message 23: by Lian (new)

Lian | 4 comments I couldn't figure out what the difference between "Zack" and "G" was... They seemed to use both for zombies? Where Gs more recently bitten ones?


message 24: by Tracey (new)

Tracey | 17 comments Lian, they're both slang terms for zombies, and I don't think there's meant to be any difference between the two. I got the impression they were both Army slang. "Zack" comes from "Z" and "G" is, I think, for "ghoul." Military people tend to use a lot of jargon and slang - Brooks got that right. Different units/regions use different terms, but they all just meant "zombie."

And for some reason, that reminds me - the quislings. That was an interesting aspect, people who mentally broke so badly that they acted like zombies even when they weren't.


message 25: by Stephen (new)

Stephen (stephentrendy) | 3 comments I think what really creeped me out was during the turning point when the guy (again, couldn't tell you who) talks about how the zombies ARE total war, because they really do only live to kill humans.

It was a really good book, but the oral history aspect made it hard to be a page turner.


message 26: by Ahk (new)

Ahk | 17 comments When is this book supposed to be set? The near future? I can't tell.


message 27: by Liesl (new)

Liesl (jcpdiesel21) | 34 comments Mod
I think my expectations were too high for this book because while I enjoyed it, I didn't love it and and times it was difficult to get through. But I'm really glad that I read it and Brooks' writing style and approach to telling the story was very unique.

In addition to Sharon and Jesika, the passages by Christina (the squadron commander who escaped from the swarm of zombies with the help of Skywatcher Mets), Kondo (the okatu who escaped from his apartment by lowering himself from balcony to balcony via sheets) and Tomonaga (the badass blind sensei) also stuck with me. The passages that were heavy on military description tended to all blend together after a while. I did appreciate how Brooks checked in with many of the characters in the last portion of the book; that was a nice way to wrap things up.


message 28: by Tracey (new)

Tracey | 17 comments Ahk, I think the book was set as though the Zombie War happened in pretty much current time. (I assume that because of the military weapons they talk about using at the beginning of the war, which are current.)


message 29: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (blue_canary) | 9 comments I am still only about halfway through, because I've been backtracking and reading it to my fiance before bed.

So far the only big issue I've had is the interview with Redecker, when we find out that Nelson Mandela was supportive of his plan. (That was totally Mandela, even if he was never named.) There is absolutely nothing in my readings about Mandela that would indicate he would approve of such a heartless strategy, even if it was necessary. The guy's still alive! I don't know why such a tiny part of the book has bugged me so much, but it has.


message 30: by Jen (new)

Jen (jensa) | 5 comments I really enjoyed this book. The structure kept it from being a page turning, stay-up-all-night-reading type for me. It was easy to read a section or two and then put it down. I did like the fact that there were small details here and there that would tie different stories together. The military aspects lost me, but that happens in most books that get too technical. The story about the underwater fighting went on way too long, IMO, and wasn't that interesting.

I also would have liked maps showing where borders had been redrawn, and where major battles were fought.


message 31: by Liesl (new)

Liesl (jcpdiesel21) | 34 comments Mod
It's a new month and the book club has moved on to a new book, but feel free to keep the discussion going if you have additional thoughts that you'd like to share!


message 32: by Ahk (last edited Apr 04, 2011 06:06AM) (new)

Ahk | 17 comments I've just finished reading the book. It was ok for me. I'm not up on zombie lore, so learning some of that was interesting, though I don't know how much is general zombie culture and how much is from Brooks' world (for example, that zombies freeze? That the only way to kill them is through the head?). I appreciate that the book took a good deal of research and I thought the concept of the structure was good. Ultimately, I thought the writing didn't pull it off so that many parts of the book blended together and were slow going. All the voices started to sound the same, the cynical, macho male voice. I skimmed some of the first third. I thought the international section was the most interesting, though I agree with Lian in that there was a good deal of stereotyping.

Jen, maps or charts or some sort of visual element in the book is a great idea. A time line! Like in real history books.

I think it could make a great movie. I kept thinking of how they made the movie Traffic, and how that could work here.


message 33: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (blue_canary) | 9 comments I just finished it last night, and was ready for it to be over. I got really tired of all the technical weapons stuff, and I felt like it was getting repetitive. But overall, I enjoyed the book. Looking forward to the next one!


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