World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

~by Max Brooks

Initially, I wasn't planning on reading World War Z. I had read Max Brook's first book The Zombie Survival Guide, and although it made for a good read, it didn't inspire me to rush out and pick up his next book. But then some friends of mine started singing the praises of World War Z and I've frequently seen it referred to positively ever since. (Like most books, there are dissenters as well.) Recently, there seems to have been a rash of zombie themed books and movies released. Though I'm open to reading the genre, I'm not what you would call a fan. From what I can tell, most people agree that World War Z stands out among the rest. This resurgence of the interest in zombies intrigues me.

The outbreak started in a small village in China that had no official name. The boy was only twelve years old. People he came into contact with after he was bitten by an unknown creature while diving fell ill and died, only to revive and exhibit violent behavior and thereby spreading the infection even further. Soon, it became a global epidemic, a virtually unstoppable flood. How quickly civilization collapses and how high the cost of survival is revealed through the lives of those who lived through that dark time in human history.

World War Z collects the oral histories of over forty of the survivors of the Zombie War. While not all directly related to one another, together they form a coherent and terrifying mosaic of the disaster that befell humankind, the lengths people went to to survive, and how the rebuilding is only beginning. Each individual has a distinct voice and perspective of the events that took place. Brooks has done a magnificent job in the selection and compilation of these interviews. However, the last section, "Good-byes," is somewhat confusing as he chose to include short snippets from many of the people previously introduced, and it is difficult to remember exactly who is who.

I will admit, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with how good World War Z turned out to be--for me at least, it actually live up to the hype surrounding it. I also appreciated the cameo appearances of Brooks previous book, The Zombie Survival Guide. Even though World War Z is technically about zombies, I feel the book is even more about the human response to a global catastrophe (which just happens to be zombies in this case). The book is truly creepy, but I still wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to people who ordinarily avoid horror stories, though I imagine some still might not be able to get past the zombie element in order to take it seriously. But it is really so much more than a zombie story, and really speaks to global politics and human nature. I'm definitely glad I made time to read World War Z and won't be surprised if I pick it up again in the future; I found it that compelling and morbidly fascinating.

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