Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

I have mentioned before that I am not a fan of zombie fiction, zombie movies, zombies in any form. I will occasionally check out something that includes zombies as background, but I'm more interested in the effects of zombies and not the zombies themselves. After all, what's to like? That does not include The Walking Dead because the show and the graphic novel are more about how humans deal with a zombie apocalypse, and that brings me to World War Z by Max Brooks.

Brooks's novel is about how people deal with zombies -- and so much more. World War Z is also about the world before the zombie apocalypse, which began in China, and what was going on in the world to make a zombie apocalypse possible. I still find some of the biology questionable, but at least one person in Brooks's novel had the same qualms I do and addressed them -- at least from his perspective.

What I found so different and frankly astonishing about the novel was the way each oral history was handled. Each person's point of view took me from the initial outbreak and told me more about how the world worked and countries' secrets and zeitgeist than I could have discovered from reading hundreds of newspapers, magazines, and articles. World War Z is as much about the current world and its politics as about the breakdown of civilization and societies in the wake of a war in which there is no chance of detente or peace, only utter annihilation of the human race or surviving at any cost. The way in which many countries dealt with the zombie infestation was not pretty and did not evoke the gentler side of human nature, but survival instinct at its most desperate, leaving the question of how we retain our humanity with the end of all humanity in the balance.

World War Z is astonishing and shocking and filled me with anger, surprise, and emotions that run the full gamut and I raced through the first 2/3 of the book, turning pages as fast as I could. Unfortunately, the down side to this emotional roller coaster was that it went on a bit too long. All the stories are fascinating and informative, but even a roller coaster should not last longer than the rider's ability to handle such emotional upheaval. At some point, you lose the ability to be afraid and satisfaction soon turns to a whine of "Are we done yet?" That one criticism aside, I highly recommend World War Z even for readers who don't care for zombie apocalypses and zombies in general. Max Brooks took me on a tour of the world I thought I knew and taught me more than I ever thought possible in the space of a book. A solid 4/5 stars, losing 1 star for going on a bit longer than I thought was necessary.

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