Ever since I read The Zombie Survival Guide, I have been a fan of Max Brooks' stuff, and he certainly doesn't disappoint in this novel. World War Z is set up as a series of interviews from folks who survived the terrifying war when zombies almost took over. If you've read "The Good War," it's a lot like that, and also an excellent book if you're interested in World War II personal stories.
The level of realism in WWZ is, wow, astounding. I can tell Brooks did his research, as the whole situation felt real, not in a fictional way, but like this really had happened to us. The interviewees range from simple civilians to highly specialized military personal, even the vice president! (fictional, of course) They also come from all parts of the world, so we get taste of just how devastating this zombie attack was, which I think is what I like most about this. Just think, zombies don't drown, so we could have a sea full of undead, washing up on coasts all around the world! And there isn't a country that's safe, although Cuba comes pretty close to it. You never feel like your suspension of disbelief is ever stretched; he even gives theories as how the zombie virus may have spread. Infected organ donations -- yikes!
One of my favorite interviews was with Sharon, the mentally handicapped woman who reenacts, with eerie likeness, when the zombies attacked while her, her family and community were barricaded in a church. Here's an excerpt:
[Now she bangs both fists one the table, her strikes becoming chaotic as if to simulate multiple ghouls.] "Brace the door!" "Hold it! Hold it!" [She simulates the sound of shattering glass.] The windows broke, the windows in the front next to the door. The lights got black. Grown-ups got scared. They screamed.Another great interview was Sensei Tomonaga Ijiro, a blind Japanese man who lived in the wilderness and took out zombies with nothing but a quarterstaff. You can't get much more badass than that! Each personal story was well done, each with unique voices, felt culturally representative of the interviewee, not some stock characters. And each story showed how the Z war transformed them, whether they gained new insight or appreciation for life, or discovered some truly dark things about what they were capable of doing.
It's hard to find bad things about this book because it really is well done, and usually I can find something to nit-pick over. To view a war on so many levels and how it affects us all... and how it may not be completely over. If I had to complain, I'd say I wanted to see more of the interviewees Good-byes at the end. We only got a handful of them, and I wanted to see where their lives were headed, or their thoughts on how it was all going to turn out. So that was disappointing. Also, I thought a few of the military personal interviews sounded a wee bit too similar in voice, but that's a minor thing.
Rating: 5 out of 5 zombified stars!
And how cool is this? There's going to be a movie of this coming out next year!