Sunday, March 30, 2008

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War Review

Some months ago, a buddy recommended that I pick up a copy of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War , what with me being a zombie whore and all. In a word, gripping. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is an amazing satirical novel, but not in a funny way.

Written by Max Brooks, the novel details the post-war events of a zombie apocalypse. The novel is presented as factual fiction, where the "author" is a survivor of the war and tasked by the UN with compiling a report on its events (complete with footnotes and everything). Once done, the author finds that his report has been heavily edited, left being only factual, bland accounts with all the details and verbatim descriptions, the "human factor," removed. To rectify this, the author wrote this book to give light to the people's voice, to the human struggle.

And it's true. It's the simple human elements that make World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War so compelling to read. Oh sure, the zombies are there, but they take a back seat to the actual accounts of these survivors. Everyone knows what zombies do (the novel uses traditional, slow zombies), but this isn't a story about some dumb teenagers trying to survive in a mall or whatever traditional zombie fare you usually think of, this is a look at a truly global experience with logistics, politics, and sheer humanity all figuring very prominently.

Set sometime around 2010, Brooks paints the picture of the initial outbreaks to the full blown pandemic, and his interviewees come from all walks of life. Some were doctors, politicians, civilians, directors, soldiers, husbands, wives, children; all flowing from person to person throughout the entire globe to piece together the horror that nearly brought about our own extinction, and extinction nearly caused by sheer human stupidity.

And that's what's so captivating about this book. While the situation of a zombie apocalypse is, of course, quite fictitious, Brooks examines it logically, realistically, and the way in which the people act to this pandemic are utterly convincing. In the words of the Staff, the human factor of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War could very easily be mimicked by people today, in reality, should something like Avian Flu get out of control.

Sorry to burst every one's bubble, but people are generally stupid. You, me, I think the Staff has some kind of mental disorder that needs to be diagnosed, but people are like lemmings. We believe what we're told to believe, rely on miracle cures, and panic easily. Isn't it great to be human!

I really want to go into detail right now. To tell you about government cover-ups, business profits, human trafficking, and all the other appalling yet utterly convincing and plausible things that happen in World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, but I can't as that'd ruin so much plot, so much shock factor, and some real disgust. Through it all though, I promise you that you'll be shaking your head, marvelling at how real our follies are, and at our actions simply aided the hordes of living dead.

This book comes with my highest recommendation. Even if you're not a fan of zombies, if you're a fan of mocumentaries, or simple accounts of human nature, you will love World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.

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