World War Z, by Max Brooks, is by far one of my favourite zombie genre books. But, to be truthful, it is among a very small number of zombie books that I’ve ever read.
Unlike most books, there is no real main character. Brooks took an approach to the book that I had only ever seen in history documentaries, where the subject retells the events as they remember them. In this case, it’s a collection of individual accounts from all walks of life recalling how the Zombie apocalypse affected them.
The book includes patient zero, and where the outbreaks ‘started’. To how it traveled around the world, and how peopled reacted to it. (Not well, which would be obvious.) He broke the book up into chapters of sorts, where each person’s story is put depending on when they are talking about. They include: Introduction, Warnings, Blame, The Great Panic, Turning the Tide, Home Front USA, Around the World, and Above, Total War, and Good Byes.
In the beginning, the interviewer explains that his original report was ripped apart by the Chairperson for the United Nation’s Postwar Commission. He told him “it was too intimate”, and there is “too many opinions, too many feelings.” He went on to say they just needed facts and figures, which had nothing to do with the human aspect of it.
Obviously, the interviewer got angry. He had spent endless hours on this project, getting all of the clearance needed to speak to some of the people, the travel time, and endless hours spent typing out all of the interviews. So, he fought for the stories. “We can’t let these stories die,” he said to his boss in a less than appropriate way. His boss told him to do the best thing he could: put all of them together and publish them in a book.
When reading the book, there are the stories that haunt you. Everyone I’ve spoken to that has read World War Z has a story that made their skin crawl, and that goes to show just how good of a writer Brooks is. He created a world of destruction that forever changed the way I looked at zombies.
The World War Z movie was recently released, staring Brad Pitt, which fell short to fans of the book. The movie had next to nothing in common with the book, and truly disappointed anyone hoping the movie would be true to the book. Even the solution was different from the book, but it was an interesting take on a ‘cure’ of sorts.
World War Z is, and likely will be, the best zombie book I have read. It deals with the social, political, religious, and environmental changes that occurred during the war. It’s a fresh take on the zombie genre, and couldn’t have been done any better.