Review: “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” by Max Brooks

World War Z by Max Brooks

A review by Courtney.

I picked up this book because the season finale of The Walking Dead had aired and I wanted a zombie fix. I had already seen the movie that was based on this book and was assured by multiple sources that the only similarities between the two were their titles and that they both were about zombies, so I assumed it would be a fresh experience. I did start the book with a little trepidation because it is a collection of short stories and I really hate short stories. Short stories just aren’t long enough for me to feel any resolution of the story or any connections with the characters.

World War Z is broken down into sections: Blame, The Great Panic, Around the World and Above, etc. Within each section are stories from people in different parts of the world sharing about how different parts of the war went down. You go to China for the first diagnosis and see the real fear in the memory of a doctor encountering an infected person for the first time. There is a story about a family in Canada going as far north as they can to escape the zombies because supposedly zombies freeze in the winter and can’t attack you. In another story, you witness a battle against the zombies that ends with the platoon surrounded by bodies stacked 30 feet tall on all sides and the platoon is victorious. You learn of the horrifying military plan that involved purposely leaving civilians in danger so the military could have an easier time regrouping and go on the offensive. The stories take place in very different people’s perspectives all around the world.

The common thread that held this book together is the narrator and in the beginning, the narrator makes it clear that he is only “asking questions” to help the people he is talking to tell their stories. I was impressed at the sheer number and variety of stories within the book. I can’t think of someone’s perspective that I wish had been told because there were so many, even ones I wouldn’t necessarily even have thought about. Some stories ended on a high note, others with a twist I failed to see coming, but most ended on a sad note that I felt would be very accurate if all of this had actually happened. The only time I got a little bored with this book was at the end because the final stories were extremely short, less than a page long. I had a harder time focusing on the book at that point. The rest of the book, however, really pulled me in and I couldn’t wait to see what part of the world we were traveling to next and what the zombie war would look like from that vantage point.

I would recommend this book to mature readers, and anyone who loves zombies, history, or both.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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