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January 8, 2012 / leuce7

leuce7’s #CBR4 Review #2: World War Z by Max Brooks

A friend of mine came over last Thanksgiving and raved about World War Z.  He’s a big Romero fan; personally, I’m a fan of The Walking Dead and Death Valley.  But there have been heated discussions in my house about whether or not we would survive the Zombie Apocalypse (which my husband insists on referring to as the Zompocalypse) and how, so I have more than a passing interest in zombie lore.  But I think even if you have no particular interest in zombies, World War Z is still well worth a read.

Like The Walking Dead, World War Z is not a story about the actual apocalypse so much as it is a story of humanity post-apocalypse, picking up where the zombie movies leave off.  As such, it’s a story about humanity and human nature.  But while the television show focuses on the travails of a particular set of characters, the book’s approach is more general in its nature; even historic, if you will.

The premise is that, ten years or so after the official end of the zombie wars, someone was tasked by the UN to gather first-hand reports about the zombie outbreak and the different ways people and countries around the world responded to it.  After the interviews (and being unable to leave the human element in the “official” UN report), this reporter put them together in roughly chronological order to create this book, and through these interviews, we get the unfolding of the end of the world, zombie-style, and the way humanity fights back.

It’s a damn great ride.  The stories seem very organic, and quite logical.  When the tales address what people might do in a panic, or who might survive and why, the actions and reactions are based on such a solid understanding of people that everything makes sense, as much as something can in a nonsensical setting of a zombie-overrun world.  There’s heartbreak, hope, terror, despair, sacrifice, greed, psychological strain and break, and even healing, and that list might actually apply to every single tale told.  The thing I found most frustrating about the book is that every single story was fascinating and I was always left wanting; so much so, that if each were a movie, I’d sit right down and have a zombie movie marathon as soon as I could get a hold of each film.  And each tale has enough in it to make a full, rich film.

World War Z actually is being made in to a movie starring Brad Pitt (as the reporter); and I really worry about the adaptation.  The detail in the book is so rich, and the scope of the novel (a worldwide one) so broad, that I can’t see this being done as anything less than a series, with each interview constituting an episode.  The filmmakers have stated they see this as a trilogy, and maybe it ultimately will be.  But while there’s tons of stuff in the book, it’s not a huge investment to read it.  It reads like a short story collection, with each interview creating its own special blend of characters and drama, and you can easily sit down and read it all at once, or extend it out piecemeal by interview for as long as you want, and get lots of food for thought and entertainment out of it.  And because it is told in interview format, under the guise of gathering info for the historical records, fans of biographies and historical reads might get as much a kick out of it and fans of the zombie oeuvre.

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