World War Z, an oral history of the zombie war, is a novel by author Max Brooks. Set after the end of a massive world wide war against the living dead, the book is a collection of storys and accounts from people all over the world who survived the outbreak of the undead collected by an unknown interviewer. The Interviewer sets up in the introduction how he wants emotional, personal, accounts from all aspects of the war; the story’s flow from the first appearances of zombies, to the start of the chaos, to how the planet started fighting back. The book is expansive and a fascinating fictional account of war, featuring classic George A Romero style zombies, that feels horrifyingly real. Max Brooks shows a masterful writing style with such amazing attention to detail that makes World War Z feel like a real historical account and not a work of fiction.
Firstly, the book is structurally brilliant. As it is a collection of anecdotes it is very easy to read; If you don’t have a lot of time, you could read a different account every few days and get a new story each time. Or, like me, you could read through as many as you can in as quick as possible to find out more about this world war.
Obviously, as there are so many different storys, I found some more interesting than others, but as they are so diverse the ones that I found less interesting will be someone else’s favourites. Even when I didn’t find a story as interesting, it still added to the world that was being created and so was still fascinating to read. None of the storys felt unimportant or rushed, every one was very well written, fascinating and added to the impact of the novel.
It’s hard to stress how huge this story is, the interviewer travels all over the world to collect these stories. The novel collects accounts from all corners of the globe, from all different classes and creeds. It ranges from children to people on their death beds, from a South African slum to the Vice President of the US, from a submarine unit all the way up to the crew of the international space station. The book is so broad, crossing so many different religions, countries, classes and political opinions that it really feels like your reading the history of our world and not a work of fiction. It all blends so well together as no stories contradict each other, no mistakes are made by Brooks. He goes into such incredible detail, it’s unbelievable how much work Brooks must have done to create this war that fits so amazingly into our world. nothing feels false or unrealistic, He makes a zombie story feel terrifyingly believable.
He also adds detail to the post-war world in which the interviews take place, as each account starts with a sort description by the interviewer of the location the interview takes place. Both The world of the war and the world after the war feel real, it’s as if this is an actual historical account.
Brooks is not afraid to be controversial with his accounts of survival. The book shows the depths that humanity can fall to when we are on our last legs and don’t know what to do. It paints the harsh truths that we’d have to deal with in this scenario. In fact it almost feels like a study of humanity itself, of what we may sink to when we are faced with our extinction and of what we may have to do for the greater good of humanity. Countries make mistakes, there are a lot of shocking discoveries, genocidal acts are committed, all in the desperation of trying to survive. You want to scream at the world to just put differences aside and work together, but the book believably shows how resentment of the past and desire to stay powerful can blind citizens, governments and countries to what the right thing to do is, or whether there even is a right or wrong on this scenario! Brooks writes a disturbingly realistic portrayal of humanity with no hope.
Finally, World War Z feels like more than just a collection of stories, as each different character the interviewer talks too feels like a unique person with a true emotional connection to what they are retelling. Some feel guilty, or want to blame others and hide things to protect their image. Others are non-chalant or even enjoy telling their storys and bantering, while some are regretful or sad, and you can feel the the emotional damage they’ve had to endure. This, more than anything, is what makes this book feel so amazingly real, as every character feels like a real person with real memories of the zombie war, and it’s done with such amazing subtlety that you really do feel so immersed in this fictional catastrophe.
This is truly and amazing read, even if your not bothered by zombies. This book is great for everyone just because of how amazingly written it is by Brooks. It feels real and human and is up there as one of the best zombie story’s ever told across all medias. Way, way better that the movie.
P.S. I really wanted to go into detail about some of my favourite storys and the ones that most impacted me but I didn’t want it to been too long as it already is very long haha they are all so good though, the one with the children in the church was especially horrifying to me as it is told by a child so it really stands out as an example of this books brilliance.