Book Forty: World War Z

This book keeps getting recommended to me, and I finally managed to find a slip of paper with the title on it and order it from the library. My recommenders turned out to be right, as it’s a pretty awesome book.

World War Z, for those of you who haven’t heard of it, is an oral history of the Zombie World War, collected Studs Terkel style and presented in several chunks covering various aspects of the Great Panic, the war, and the people who made decisions and were involved in the war on the front lines.  Brooks travels all over the world in search of people to interview, ranging from industrialists who capitalized on the early panic to the captains of submarines.

It holds up pretty well as what it’s supposed to be, except that a lot of interviews read like the same person, because, er, the entire book is written by one person, perhaps? A couple of weird little catch phrases kept turning up in people who weren’t related to each other, and had no good reason to repeat those phrases, and the wording was often suspiciously similar. Hey, it’s hard to write characters, let alone this many, don’t get me wrong, I just think the book could have been edited a bit better to eliminate this problem.

Also, a lot of the interviews were a little bit too expository, feeling a bit stiff and unrealistic. And some of them were especially annoying because the author set up foreshadowing a bit too neatly, feeding his characters lines such as “after what happened to me,” and making them evasive about things in the beginning of an interview and suddenly wildly talkative about them. As a result, some of the book felt extremely artificial to me.

For what it is, it’s a pretty good book, and if you happen to know someone who is obsessed with zombies, they might really dig it. I will admit to some interest in the zombie community, so I got a kick out of it, at least.


World War Z, by Max Brooks. Published 2006, 342 pages. Fiction.