Monday, September 8, 2014

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War - Max Brooks

Summary: We survived the zombie apocalypse, but how many of us are still haunted by that terrible time? We have (temporarily?) defeated the living dead, but at what cost? Told in the haunting and riveting voices of the men and women who witnessed the horror firsthand, World War Z is the only record of the plague years. (summary and cover from

My Review: Perhaps the most unnerving thing about a zombie apocalypse would be the not knowing what they're really like, or what we're really supposed to do to fight them. Sure, we've all seen "The Walking Dead", let alone the many other books and movies that have fed our zombie obsession for years. Just yesterday I saw Facebook pictures of a friend's 5k race that was zombie-versus-human themed. They’re everywhere now—and not just in geekdom. Zombies have literally (well, hopefully not) grabbed us and we're officially obsessed.

I'm a newcomer to zombie-dom; I have to admit that I didn't have much interest in zombies before the recent onslaught of zombies into everything pop culture. Reading World War Z was never really on my list until I became one of those newcomer zombie lovers (and I'm not alone here, you know), but, surprisingly, I loved it.

And it terrified me.

Because it got me asking what would we really do if there was a zombie apocalypse. I mean, how do you really kill them? Obviously we've all been trained by our zombie reading and watching to aim for the brain and take 'em down and save our bullets when they're close enough to deal with in hand-to-hand combat, but really…what would we do? And that's what's terrifying and awesome and awesomely terrifying about World War Z. It's not sensationalized, hyped-up, Hollywood-type zombies, but more like an unknown evil that sneaked up without us even knowing it. It's not like we've ever really seen a zombie, or ever really expected to see one, so what would we do? And at one point do we stop all the re-creations of Hollywood's version of zombie fighting and actually have to deal with real ones—ones who crossed the ocean floor, ones who were frozen and now thawing, ones who weren't killed correctly in the first place—a nameless, faceless army that never stops, never gives up, has no conscience and no leader?

But this was not the scariest thing in this book. The things that were the most unnerving were both the amount of precise personal information given and the lack of general, overarching information. It’s written with an unknown interviewer/narrator, who then gives personal accounts of various people in various walks of life, who lived through the worldwide zombie war. There are bits and pieces of annotation that give a little bit of a broader picture, but mostly it's just one person's perspective on their little slice of hell living through World War Z. It's scary. It's scary because that's what it would be like—if infrastructure went down, if there were no internet, if modern life ceased as we knew it, we would be left with only our small, isolated personal experience. We would be left with knowing nothing in the fight for our lives.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has jumped on the zombie bandwagon—whether newcomer or old-comer. It's also just a really great read for anyone who enjoys post-apocalyptic stories or war stories. It's well-written and exciting.

My rating: 4 stars

For the sensitive reader: This book is not for the sensitive reader. There's violence, language, and adult themes.


Lacey said...

I am actually scared to death of zombies, but I have been reading more and more about them to the point that World War Z is on my reading list. I am terrified for the same reasons you are, so glad to see I am not the only one.

Sally T. said...

My husband listened to this on CD and said it was phenomenal - much better and much creepier than the movie. We're about to embark on a road trip so I'm trying to find a good audiobook. Maybe we'll do this one.


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