Saturday, June 22, 2013

Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
by Max Brooks
Published by Three Rivers Press, 2006
Source: Library

Goodreads Description: 

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 survivoros 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 ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

My Review:
Max Brooks certainly has a chilling gift. It is clear that he is highly intelligent throughout this work, and that he has definitely done his homework on this one. The detail about religions and cultures made this book almost hauntingly real. It also made me appreciate Brooks as an author. If anything, one could read this book to witness Brooks's demonstration of quality authorship. 

Brooks really did a great job - this book is a work of art. However, as far as my investment in the actual plot, that's another story. I liked the book, I really did. However, the story is more like clips of a different events by different people. I often forgot the name of the person being interviewed and had to refer to the bold title before each new story. There was no one character to follow, to root for. That made it a difficult read at first, but I did end up getting into the plot and appreciating the action and emotion in each narrative.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the reading was the technical terms, especially those of weapons and war maneuvers. During long narratives discussing weaponry, I would find my eyelids drooping. It just wasn't my interest. For some, I'm sure, this would become a highlight of the novel, so that must be taken into consideration - that this review is based on my personal reading experience. 

The story of the war was covered from each vantage point - really. Brooks did not forget a single thing. From the ocean floor to outer space, the war had different effects and Brooks considered them all.  
This book was written with such focus it almost seemed real. Very, very rarely did I feel like I needed to suspend my disbelief - beyond the existence of zombies of course (which I realize is a hot topic of its own). The story was terrifying in this way, that Brooks made it seem so very real. 

This book is an insightful story on the nature of humanity and people's responses to trauma and crisis. This is what I loved about this story! Brooks discusses difficult realities and makes several sharp observations about past crises and the human condition. I don't want to make this sound like some political work - its not. World War Z is a great piece of fiction from a very intelligent author. Though it is a work of fiction, the horror comes from the reality of it. From phony miracle drugs to "quislings" experiencing what resembles Stockholm Syndrome, Brooks really drives the story home, right to your front door. When you close the book you'll be asking, "would I really want to live?" 

I highly recommend this story to fans of apocalyptic fiction and for those entertained by war details and mechanics. I'm going to give this book a three out of five foxes because as much as I enjoyed the story, I still always felt disconnected from characters. I know Brooks made a point to avoid the human element as stated in the introduction, but it did not really please my personal reading tastes. Also, I had some difficulty getting through the highly technical narratives and often skipped over weaponry details simply for my lack of understanding and desire to understand. 

** This book was read for a book club with the intent to watch the film soon after. I will include a follow up review of the film and briefly discuss how it relates to the book. Check back soon to read the film review **


  1. I really enjoyed this novel, but I really agree with what you mentioned in your review. The writing style was really original, but difficult for me to get into as well. The fighting strategies and weaponry did make my eyelids droopy too. I am also going to be watching the movie soon for our new blog meme with comparing the book/movie. Looking forward to your thoughts on the movie next.

    Lily @ Bookluvrs Haven.

  2. Thanks Lily!
    This was a good read. It was a bit change of pace for, which was welcoming. I'm very excited for the film. I should be seeing it soon. I'll have to check out your thoughts on the book and movie as well. Thanks so much for stopping by!


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