Thursday, September 19, 2013

Library Reads: Max Brooks' World War Z

Certainly not what I expected. World War Z, the movie version, has come out, so naturally I wanted to try to read the book before reading the movie. The thing is I don't think that was necessary. The movie seems to be a story, whereas the book is a compilation of interviews that the interviewer has put together to chronicle the beginning, middle, and end of the zombie war. I can understand the cult appeal as the book tries to realistically portray every element of the living in a zombie apocalypse, but it has some things that really take away from the realness of the story.

Summary: What would you do if a zombie takeover happened? Many find themselves platooned in boats running from land, some in rebel cities, and others joining a war that involves a variety of methods to eliminate as many zombies as they can. There is a lot to consider when approaching the zombies though like how they might be digging into the ground to find food, or following those out to sea that are platooned, or just how the safest cities might be the ones we most associated with being the enemies.

Characters: There are varying characters interviewed by the interviewer. At first I thought they began with a very compelling character who is working as a doctor and sees the first of the outbreak. Then with each person introduced it becomes more and more bogged down. This is more of a technical look at what would happen to the world than one where you get to know a character with them throughout a very scary time. I would have preferred to have a more hands on, action oriented, book from one characters perspective as if we were living it with them than the interview approach.  The author also does a poor job at giving each character a voice that defines them apart from the last person he interviewed. It all reads as the same person.

Writing: I think the biggest hurtle to get over was the writing. As mentioned earlier there was no voice that separated the character before the other. Even the women sounded like the men he had interviewed. It also gets very technical with information about weapons and the government in place at the time. When Brooks would strive to give us emotion he did it though. Like when the Chinese submarine crew were travelling to escape what had happened it was very compelling. You got to know and feel for the people aboard that ship.

Plot: The plot does grow well as you read, because you have each chapter divided well to progress each stage of the zombie war and how it happened. The beginning does snag you as it should, and each chapter has at least one really enthralling part. I also did like how the author tried to encompass how every level was affected by what happened. Whether you were living in the U.S.A., Russia, Cuba, China, Canada, or wherever else. He even goes into how the people at sea, land, and even in space were affected by what happened. Again though the footnotes and tons of information did bog it.

World War Z is an unique endeavor. There is no other zombie book like it. Was it as compelling as I was hoping? Not at all. There were some moments I was struggling to turn the page to the next. There were other moments I hated when the story would end for one. To really make this a home run though there needs to be some varying voices outside of what the author perceived as one.

Rating 7 of 10.

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