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Book Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

Title:  World War Z
Author:  Max Brooks
Publisher:  Crown Publishing Group
Genre:  Science Fiction/Horror
Read: June 2012
Rating:  3
Locate It: Amazon

Synopsis: 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’?”

Note: Some of the numerical and factual material contained in this edition was previously published under the auspices of the United Nations Postwar Commission.

My Thoughts:  I was so looking forward to reading this book! The premise (an eyewitness recounting of a fictional worldwide zombie attack) sounded fun and so interesting. Unfortunately for me, the book just seemed to drag on and on. Max Brooks wrote the novel in epistolary form, meaning that each chapter was written in the form of an actual interview with various participants/survivors of the zombie war.  The book started out interesting but then seemed to go on forever and with a different narrator every few pages it became quite disjointed for me. There was not one main character that I found myself rooting for (I suppose I was supposed to be rooting for the human race as a whole?).  It is a great premise and I commend Mr. Brooks on the ability to create so many solid characters and twist our modern political system in such a way that was believable but it just wasn’t for me.

I know that many people have loved this book so while I can’t completely recommend it, I also won’t completely warn people to stay away from it. It seems to the type of book that you have to pick up and just decide for yourself if it will be worth your time or not.  All that being said, I am looking forward to the movie coming out.  I think it if it is done well, it will make for a great movie.

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