World War Z: Book Review

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Title & Author: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
Genre: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic
Synopsis (from Goodreads):

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

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”


I picked up World War Z on an Amazon Kindle sale at some point and decided to finally check it out. I haven’t seen the movie but heard the book was quite different in many ways. Maybe I would prefer the movie version because this book was not for me.

Actual wars–World War II, for example–as told from the perspective of those who lived through it is interesting, though it can be dry. This was interesting too but…maybe I’m biased, I just wanted a bit more action. Maybe it’s because the movie looked like an action blockbuster, I don’t know…this book was just a lot different from what I had anticipated.

I guess what I’m saying is that if I want to read dry, firsthand accounts I’ll read about a real war or skim through the Blix report or something. But when I want to read about the zombie apocalypse, I want that to be funny, action-packed, or both. That said, much of the book felt true to life: the corruption and greed that allowed the people to profit off of the disease in the first place, for example.

One other thing I’d like to point out: Max Brooks is Mel Brooks’ son. While Mel Brooks personally seems funny (on late night shows he’s appeared on), I don’t find most of his comedy to be that hilarious to me. So had I known this book was written by his son I might have stayed away.


Verdict: While interesting, World War Z was a bit too textbook-y for me. It’s a serious look at a non-existent (as far as I know thus far) scenario. It was a really dry read for me–not something I’d  recommend to most.

Recommend for: people who like lots of facts thrown into their fiction. If you read lots of nonfiction about wars and you want to spice things up, you might try this.

Price: about $5.99 (Kindle) – $11.35 on Amazon!

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