Shaman’s Cannonball Read #CBR5 review #19: World War Z by Max Brooks

Max Brooks’ World War Z is a collection of stories as told by Zombie war survivors. Soldiers, politicians, refugees from around the world present us with pieces of an apocalyptic puzzle, one that brought mankind to the edge of extinction. Their accounts are vivid, horrifying, often bitter, bleak and demoralizing. Faced with an almost unstoppable force that feels no emotion, humans will do anything to survive.

There has been a lot of praise for Brooks’ book, and, already after reading the first page, I could see why. He has crafted a detailed, realistic scenario of what would happen if there was a zombie outbreak. You can tell he’s given this a lot of thought: he explores everything from how to effectively destroy zombies to how different countries would react, to how some zombies would float to the surface as opposed to walking the bottom of the sea depending on how bloated they are. It’s a rich world – which was kind of the only drawback of this book for me.

Having read World War Z right after Robopocalypse I couldn’t help but make comparisons. The two are similar in some ways, not least in how film-friendly their subject matter (and even their approach) is. Both are told through several narrators. This works much better in the case of World War Z, perhaps because the reason there are several narrators (there is a journalist collecting the stories) is much more plausible than in that of Robopocalypse. The journalist keeps mainly in the background, speaking up only to ask questions or to introduce the setting. He’s discreet and doesn’t get in the way of the story – which is way more complicated and nuanced than in Robopocalypse.

Still, the fact that there are so many narrators is, I feel, detrimental. While the story never really became repetitive, it did tend to drag on a bit. Some narrators’ stories were similar enough to be eligible for exclusion; some could have been left out as they didn’t seem to do anything to advance the plot. Maybe it is the format of having several sub-plots instead of a main plot that doesn’t suit me.

Although this book wasn’t perfect, I found it enjoyable and at times it had me at the edge of my seat. A must-read – at least for zombie enthusiasts.

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