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World War Z: Book Review

(The Verge) – What happens when the world is turned upside down when a raging virus brings the dead back to life? Max Brooks, author of The Zombie Survival Guide, gives us a glimpse in the aftermath of the infamous Zombie War (also known as World War Z or The Great Panic) in his book, World War Z. The book is told as an oral history in the postwar times following the war against the undead. The author takes on the role of an agent of the United Nations Postwar Commission as he travels the world and holds interviews with men and women who share their survival stories in this collection to give us a detailed description of what life was like for the survivors around the world and what life is like now as humanity recovers and rebuilds.
The zombie craze continues to heighten with World War Z now playing in theaters starring Brad Pitt. Despite the fact that this film is a movie adaptation, the book and the movie are as different as the dead from the undead. Personally, I really enjoyed the movie and it’s what sparked my initial interest in reading the book, but if I had read the book first, I probably would not have liked the movie as much as I did.
World War Z is a satirical book in its nature, but it has a serious tone to it. It differs from other zombie stories, as it is not a humorous or mindless zombie read. It discusses the societal, cultural, economic, religious, and environmental changes that result from an all out war against the undead. We get to hear survivor stories ranging from everyday people trying to survive another day to military personnel and the tactics they use to fight against mankind’s extinction.

A look at the novel’s title. Image taken from: upload.wikimedia.org

Brooks uses past tactics as well as culture, and social structures of other countries to create how they would respond in such a global crisis. The survival stories are enough to make you shudder. Reading about the government responses in some countries, military actions employed, and the methods of some survivalists show us that zombies aren’t the only things to fear in a global pandemic. In some cases, humans can be much deadlier when they kick into survival mode and allow instinct to sensibly take over.
Brooks does a fantastic job in his storytelling. Each chapter is divided into a series of interviews that relay accounts during different peaks of the global zombie war. He writes in such a manner that the story actually takes on an addictive nature, making the book hard to put down. Brooks encompasses so many different elements and perspectives, that the reader is left with what appears to be a full account of what happened during this global war.
One thing that I personally enjoyed about World War Z was the way Brook relays accounts from all different countries. As mentioned earlier, he uses current social and cultural elements of each nation as well as past war response and tactics to give us a somewhat accurate picture of how these countries would respond during such a crisis. It really gives the reader an understanding of our global status.
Another element of Brooks’ storytelling technique I liked was how this entire story takes place after the war. Typically in zombie stories/movies we get a glimpse of the initial outbreak but the majority of the story takes place during the middle of the war. We find in World War Z it has been some years since the initial zombie outbreak and humanity is slowly but surely recovering as the world tries to rebuild itself from scratch. I found it to be a unique version of the zombie apocalypse. Another positive included the constant military tactics that were incorporated into the compelling story. We get to see how the military and even survivalists constantly redesign and reformat their battle strategies in order to take out their enemy. It takes well over a decade, but eventually, they develop a solution.
It’s hard to say that if you liked the movie you will love the book in this case because they are so different. However, if you like zombies you will love World War Z, and if you love social and political satires, then you will also love this book. It has a little something for everyone whether you are an avid reader or someone who is simply intrigued by zombies or war stories. If you are looking for something entertaining to read this summer, then definitely put World War Z on your list!
Max Brooks, the novel’s author, sits next to a stack of his books. Image taken from: worldwarz.com