World War Z
By Zach Patterson Thursday, 28 Feb 2008

I have to hand it to Max Brooks, the man is devoted to forming a believable zombie story. In his second book, World War Z, Brooks expands upon the idea of The Zombie Survival Guide, and gives us the “what if?” scenario of a zombie apocalypse actually occurring, and developing a story through dozens and dozens of survivor accounts of their attacks and roles during “The Great Panic”. The stories span the entire globe, from government officials to army grunts to regular joes who were just caught in the middle of it.

It’s really hard to delve into over 40 stories and analyze which are good and which are not in a short review, since there are a few that drag and others that could easily be stand alone novellas. However, the overall story that the book tells is both compelling and believable. What I think is the most interesting part of the book is that it outlines just how fucked we would be in the case of a massive worldwide disaster. We are just so ill-prepared in our current lifestyles to leave what we have right now and make tough decisions just to subsist. When he says the government denies there is a problem and people buy into fad medicine to “cure” themselves before the problem gets completely out of hand, it sounds like a historical recollection instead of a far-fetched piece of fiction. Brooks outlines the difficulty in which the US has when survivors are forced to farm and learn new skills in new settlement camps, and the difficulty of just how to clear millions and millions of zombies from earth in a way in which the remaining people wouldn’t be overwhelmed.

Also, while the book is rather grim at parts, it gives you a good idea of how bad the panic would be. Massive traffic jams on the highways that end up being easy feasts for zombies, people overloading ships and then falling victim to a single infected person, people holding private compounds and being unable to hold them down, survivor camps in the northern wilderness that end up turning on each other and becoming cannibalistic, etc. It essentially covers the entire Earth too, from North Korea mysteriously disappearing to Russia and China falling apart, to Cuba becoming a booming economic area and strategic safe zone and even people out in space watching from space stations.

What I also like about the book is that it realistically gives a conclusion. A long, messy, conclusion, but a realistic solution to retaking the Earth. It pretty much requires everyone to cooperate and take a similar plan of attack, but as the book progresses, it shows how the safe areas slowly expand, and larger and larger chunks of land are retaken and repopulated with warm bodies. It’s far from a happy ending, as many soldiers are documented committing suicide or getting overrun and there is no total victory, but it is probably the only zombie apocalypse-type story where it doesn’t end with “well, we are fucked.”

I really recommend this novel if you have an interest in zombie stories and especially have a short attention span. The short story accounts of survivors are interesting and each person is written in a different voice, so if one story kinda stinks, there’s always another one in a few pages that could interest you a lot more. Brooks shows a lot of versatility as a writer, as well as a lot of knowledge of a lot of different fields of expertise, from discussing military tactics, to foreign policy, to Japanese and Chinese culture. It’s definitely a fun, leisurely, and absorbing read.

3 Responses to “World War Z”

  1. Andrew Raub Says:

    Yeah! I am just about done with this book… and so far I agree with everything you have said.

    What I find amazing about his storytelling is that it presents pretty much every large culture and exploits their apparent weaknesses, and each country has a slightly different response and outcome. He presents the information in such a way that it really makes me think “Jesus, we need to get prepared!” but then I realize, the problem he is retelling is fictional. This isn’t nuclear war, or racial or religious genocide, or global warming, or any of the multitude of problems that have faced us, or possibly could face us in the near future. This is a completely made up threat, but Brooks really does a fine job of making it compelling and realistic enough to instill just a little bit of fear into the reader.

  2. Nick Woodside Says:

    What the hell is a book?

  3. Art Mead Says:

    This was a really good book, agreed.

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