Book Review: World War Z

24 Jan
World War Z cover (Sergey Galyonkin)

Image: Sergey Galyonkin 

Title: World War Z (An Oral History of the Zombie War)

Author: Max Brooks

I definitely got out of my comfort zone with this book. I’m not a fan of horror in general, and zombies in particular are at the top of my ‘Things Julie Doesn’t Read About’ list. But my housemate convinced me that World War Z was not your average zombie novel and I was certainly pleasantly surprised.

Although it does have its shocking and gruesome moments, and is neither for the faint of heart nor the faint of stomach, World War Z is first and foremost a fake history. Its subtitle is ‘An Oral History of the Zombie War’ and this is exactly what it provides, the story of a dystopian future where the world becomes overrun by zombies, told through interviews with those who experienced the ten-year war against them.

I have heard numerous complaints about this book, chief among them that there is little reason to keep reading to find out what happens as it is made clear at the beginning that the zombie war is over and the human race, however diminished, has survived, and so many characters are introduced (and so few feature beyond their initial introduction) that it is difficult to form an attachment to any of them. It is only the number of characters that I found occasionally irritating, and only when they were re-introduced as I often found it difficult to remember their history.

On the whole though I found the number of different perspectives included in the novel an asset rather than a drawback. This was particularly the case because of the diversity of these perspectives and the sociological commentary which they provide. Through reports from zombie war survivors from across the world, you are able to see how different nations reacted to the outbreak (which includes stereotyping, but also a great deal of truth). It is also quite beautifully philosophical in places, a stark contrast to the graphic descriptions of zombies and war.

So while some of the descriptions may give you nightmares, I would certainly recommend World War Z to zombie enthusiasts and zombie sceptics alike.

Rating: 4/5

Quote: “Freedom isn’t just something you have for the sake of having, you have to want something first and then want the freedom to fight for it.”

Up next: What You Wish For by Mark Edwards

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