Reviewed: World War Z

Art by Mark (me)

Title: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Author: Max Brooks
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Rating: 5/5
Preferred Format: Audio
Buy: Amazon | Audible (affiliate link)

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.

Review

For years I had heard that the World War Z audio book was excellent and yet I never moved to listen to it. Then came the zombie uprise with Walking Dead, spin off shows and soon the movie World War Z. I was once again told to listen to the audiobook despite the movie as they only shared the name. After many more months I finally found myself with a credit on Audible and I used it to purchas the audiobook. The words were brought to life and soon I found myself pausing mid-work to listen to what happened next, or peaking over my shoulder in a bout of fear that a zack was trailing me from behind. As soon as the story concluded many hours later, I opened up the Audible app, selected the chapters, and started all over again.

World War Z, unlike the summer blockbuster known by the same name, is a series of interviews of military, civilians and more recounting their experiences in the greatest war the world has ever seen. Each story weaves you through the varying government response to the growing threat and how the citizens suffered. You take a look into those everyday people who used their skills to make money off the crisis and of those who ignored it all until their peril.

Most people don’t believe something can happen until it already has. That’s not stupidity or weakness, that’s just human nature.

What I loved most about this book is that we do indeed get multiple viewpoints on the war and with that comes ambiguity of what happened. That is, if you are not paying close attention. Each person provides their perspective, mostly focused on their struggles but you get glimpses into what they may have heard about the war. Though if you want more specifics to help piece together a timeline of events, there are other books such as The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks.

The monsters that rose from the dead, they are nothing compared to the ones we carry in our hearts.

Ultimately, after listening to the abridged audiobook twice, and reading the unabridged book once, I find that the story isn’t so much about Zombies. Yes, that is a nice backdrop to ground everything on, but the story is about people. Us. When we are at the pinnacle of crisis, how do we react? Do we react? How long can we ignore an issue before it irrevocably damages us? It’s a question that I think we are still trying to answer. Despite our own recorded histories. Like the characters in World War Z we brush it aside and seek a return to normal. Whatever that is.

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