Any fan of zombie movies — or action movies, horror movies and war movies — should be interested in WORLD WAR Z.
It has zombies. It has action, horror and a world war. If this novel isn’t epic, then I don’t know what epic is.
It bounces around from character to character, country to country, though the book is basically organized into sections: the first hints of zombies among us, the Great Panic, then humans getting their act together — after false starts and setbacks — to finally win the war.
As a reader and a zombie fan, I enjoyed it. This wasn’t a book that sat beside the bed for a month. I read it straight through over a couple nights.
As a writer, there were things to fix. Having so many characters was a big risk. Max Brooks obviously researched every location and culture in the story, and clearly he wanted to put all that research to use on the page. It’s a little much in spots, and he doesn’t pull off every character. It’s hard enough to be the authentic voice of one character for an entire novel. He tries to do it for 5.8 bazillion characters.
HOWEVER: That is nitpicking. This is a great story and a ton of fun.
Some scenes will stick with you. The full might of the U.S. military being crushed by the sheer numbers of millions of zombies at the Battle of Yonkers. The desperation and courage of a Japanese man trapped in his apartment tower, full of zombies. A soldier’s tale of how the humans finally learned to beat the zombies not with amazing technology, but with hard work and old-fashioned military strategies, as two lines of soldiers — one firing, one reloading or resting — form a square box and shoot for days until the piles of dead zombies became a wall of corpses twenty or thirty feet high.
WORLD WAR Z is now a movie, with Brad Pitt starring and Marc Forster directing, though movies are notoriously squishy. They get announced and switched around and delayed. It’ll be fun to see this story on the big screen.
Here is Max Brooks talking about the history of zombies. He is interesting.
Shots of bourbon: Four and a half out of five.
Sidenote: If you haven’t read Max Brook’s ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE, it is not only hilarious and entertaining, but shockingly practical. No matter what style of apocalypse you favor, that book would probably get you prepared.
Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.