Book Review - World War Z

Dan O’Neill 2014-04-25 3 min read

Apparently I was late to the World War Z party. First time I’d ever heard of World War Z was a trailer for the movie a couple of years back. Movie looked like it ticked all the boxes for me - apocalypse, zombies, and general action/adventure.

Movie turned out to be good, even after all the trouble with its production.

Every time I spoke to anyone about it, without fail, almost every single person told me to read the book too - which was interesting because I’d never even realised it was a book. Seems like everyone read the book behind my back and never told me about it! Everyone also warned me that it was different from the movie - and boy were they right.

Though what a book it is. An oral history of the zombie war - The story is told as a series of interviews and notes from a report commissioned after “The Crisis”. The author is trying to capture the humanity that they either lost or gained while the war raged around them. It puts you in the shoes of those who were there at the time - from the American “Alpha teams” (what the movie focused on) to ordinary everyday people who got caught up in the panic all around the world.

Its an interesting way to tell a story - I’ve never read a book like it before. Plus it works well in this scenario - jumping around to stories from different countries at the same time gives you a good gauge of where the book and story are going.

Now that might sound a bit clinical but it isn’t - the story grabs you, the longer stories have characters that you genuinely want to see pull through. A couple of the stories really stuck with me after I finished the book. One of the stories that I really enjoyed was the story of the downed pilot lead through the wilderness by a voice on her radio. Another was about Tomonaga and Kondo and the story of their meeting and survival in Japan.

Each story moves the timeline forward a little bit, and some intertwine with each other so that you recognise characters and events much later in the book. Its those little things that really make this book stand out for me.

The genre (Zombie Apocalypse) might be a little over used at the minute with many games, TV shows, and movies, but this book is one of the greats of the genre and well worth a read. I could barely put it down. Max Brooks (son of Mel Brooks, I recently discovered) has written a genuinely interesting and exciting book. One I’ll be recommending to anyone who talks to me about the movie in future…