Thursday, 17 May 2012

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War - Max Brooks

To be honest, as much as I love horror, I'm always a little cautious when it comes to zombie things. It's not that I'm not interested in zombies (who isn't?), it's mainly something I've mentioned before: I like books to have the potential for a happy ending. Most zombie books/movies/anything? Don't fall into that category. Because even if our heroes survive whatever the climax of the media is, that still means that there are more zombies out there and their big happy ending is just that they survive a little longer in this miserable, zombie-filled world. What a load of joy, huh?

Well, perhaps the reason that I loved this book (besides other things) is that this is a book written in hindsight, after the Zombie War. You know what that means? We beat the zombies! And you know that right from the get go! So, consider this worrywart soothed.

The basis of the book is that a reporter is going around after the war ends and getting firsthand accounts of various people around the globe before, during and post zombie war (the titular World War Z.) It makes for a very interesting read as there is no basic plot line, just short accounts of various people around the world and how each country dealt with the zombie menace. Because of the use of this style, the book reads very quickly and that keeps the reader on their toes.

Of course, a basic narrative comes out, of the countries starting to realize there is a real problem, to people that tried to profit from this, from different generals and their great acts and famous battles of the war, to the ultimate ending of the war. However, by using different voices and characters (almost no one speaks more than once), this seems much more nuanced and interesting than if Brooks had just written a straightforward zombie war book. It really adds to the feel of the book.

Really, that's the genius of the book: that it reads like a war report and not like a zombie novel. It's the kind of thing you would read on the UN website or in the papers, not on the horror shelf of your local bookshop. It actually puts gravitas and depth into something that is usually used for cheap thrills.

A movie version of this is in the works and is likely to come out next year. I'm really not sure how the novel will translate to screen as there is no real linear plot line but apparently Brooks is very behind the script and if the author likes it, it should be rather good. I'll ignore that Brad Pitt is starring. 

So yes, even if you don't think you're a fan of the genre or detest zombie things, this is really a book that's worth checking out. I really think it will surprise you.

1 comment:


    and i totally agree re typical zombie fare - even shaun of the dead i was like okay . . . still not really happy . . . :(