Sunday, June 1, 2008

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

Admittedly I'm not much of a sci-fi or horror buff. I find sci-fi to be a little far-fetched at times and horror to be too sickening or repetitive. Fortunately, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks offers a new spin on both genres. It's somewhat sci-fi because it involves the man-made idea of zombies causing chaos in the world, and it's somewhat horror-based because of the destruction the zombies cause, but it's told in a unique way... it takes place roughly in the present time, but told after the actual Zombie War is over. This narrative angle gives it a historical feel and is not in-your-face like horror projects tend to be. And it's an easy read to boot.

Probably the most interesting thing to me about this tale is the parallel that is drawn in this book from zombies taking over the world to other threats that this world faces. Essentially, as you read this book, you can replace zombies with virtually any threat imaginable, such as a highly contagious virus (which is essentially how zombies propogate in this book), to terrorists, to aliens, and so on. As you read, you realize that the tactics used to learn about and fight the zombies are not much different from the tactics needed to control any of the aforementioned threats to our civilization. (And based on this story, let's hope we never have one of these threats happen to this world!)

As the story unfolds, the reader is introduced to a plethora of characters telling their respective stories about how the zombies affected their particular locales, with reports given from all over the world. The manner of writing is very straightforward and does not go overboard in trying to impress you with wacky new inventions like a typcial sci-fi production would. The stories feel very natural and realistic, but in a creative, eye-opening way.

I enjoyed reading this book and "taking the plunge" into genres that I wouldn't normally touch. It's a good crossover book for those who like fiction, but not so much fantasy or horror, but don't mind some overlap. Kudos to Max Brooks for proving that creativity runs in the family, being the son of comedic director Mel Brooks and actor Anne Bancroft. And I'm excited to hear that this book will be made into a movie, so hopefully it lives up to its potential and doesn't flop like a zombie shot in the brains...

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