Monday, October 31, 2011

Book Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

Author: Max Brooks
Publisher: Crown
Hardcover: 342 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.
Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.
Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 

Here you are: the perfect book for Halloween! A book about a zombie plague and a subsequent war that takes out a good chunk of the population is on the top of everyone's list, right? If not, it should be, because this book is genius. It's emotional, suspenseful, and scarily realistic. If the descriptive scenes about the zombies and the plague don't get you, the fact that it's written from a journalistic point of view will. It reads like non-fiction, which adds a scary element of realism to it.

I really like what Brooks has done with this novel. First of all, it's ambitious. He has included dozens of accounts, which means dozens of main characters along with the interview himself. I'm sure there was an incredible amount of research he had to do for this novel, because the interviews are from people who are located all over the world. That's a lot of history and background to flesh out, and he succeeds in making each character individualized. Also, Brooks not only describes different countries before and during the war, he has fabricated new policies and events that take place after the zombie war, all the while taking into account the culture and country he's writing about. What did I say? Genius!

If you're a fan of zombies and horror, this is the book to pick up. It's one of the best zombie books out there, I think. Even if you're not, this novel is a prime example of excellent writing and storytelling. I definitely recommend it.