By Max Brooks
Three Rivers Press
This is the first book review for this blog (yes, we can read as well as watch). And, from my standpoint, this is a great introduction into zombie literature.
“World War Z” reads like a dossier, a documentary, and a well-written fan-fiction novel. Author Brooks captures all of the elements that zombie lovers have come to know and love: the apocalypse has happened, the undead are kicking and eating our asses, humankind seems powerless to stop it — and this is how the entire world responds.
Brooks takes the backseat as an author, assuming the role of a man seeking to interview the major players involved and report to all world governments the beginning, middle, and end of a worldwide zombie outbreak.
I spent the majority of my summer and fall months picking this book up, getting sucked in at some chapters, intrigued by others, and completely enthralled with others. The book jumps back and forth with the timeline of a war that took place over several years, over several continents and countries. Everyone from military strategists, to government advisors, to laymen, to religious figures are interviewed by the “author,” comprising a compelling read that I will not soon forget.
Among the standout moments of Brooks’ novel include a gripping tale of a Chinese submarine commander realizing that the best way of survival — and potential destruction at the hands of his own government — is becoming a deserter; a teenager in Japan who watched the apocalypse unfold over the Internet and suddenly realizing he not only was ill-equipped with intelligence to handle the war when it came to his door, but also that he had spent too many months staring at a computer screen that his lethargic form seemed to fight against him as he tried to survive; several accounts as to how modern military responses to the threat fell short (i.e. soldiers being trained to shoot for mass rather than the head, having to relearn on the fly how to destroy a force that upped its forces with every un-destroyed brain).
The novel, while completely based on the slow-moving zombies this blog has come to embrace as the triple-OG zombies, takes a few liberties with Uncle George’s rules, but very few.
It is a stretch to think about a real-life zombie apocalypse, but Brooks handles the subject matter and the story with respect, sound-research, and cultural understanding.
Romero Rules Followed: Practically all, but I will not ruin plot points with nitpicking
Gore factor: Well, deft description makes the mind an amusement park
Zombies or Wannabees? Zombies
Classic, fine, or waste of time: Classic
Additional comments: I was expecting a terrible Tom Clancy-wannabe, but was pleasantly surprised. This is a sincere recommendation if you have had enough with terrible fiction writing as of late. Also, there have been rumors that a big studio was willing to make a film, casting Brad Pitt in a role...While that may be a scary prospect, read the book and then picture who Mr. Pitt would play...As the narrator, he is perfect casting.