World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks is about a lot of things—least of all zombies.
They are mentioned on every page: by the hundreds, by the thousands, by the millions, and by the total collective worldwide. What was really striking about this book was this: As frightening it was, it wasn’t about the undead, or even the war against it. In a very ironic, tongue-in-cheek way, Brooks explores the question of humanity staring into its own disgusting, hungry face and pulling the trigger. Or rather more accurately in this case, smashing in its own brains.
The oral history of the zombie war is a compilation of first-hand survivor interviews from the ten-year long zombie infestation. It was compiled by an unnamed American hired by the United Nations to put together a commission report: about the spread of the virus and the war effort against it to the state of the world in relation to the zombie crisis today. Gore and horror genre aside, the style Brooks chose admittedly might be off-putting to many, although one could also argue it adds feel and context of the story. However, the book is not all gore and horror and it would be a disservice to say it is, although both are present for anyone who enjoys a little visceral entertainment.
Overall, each recorded account of the interviewed survivors adds context to the bigger picture, explains what happened in places all over the globe—and even at sea—at every stage. The details put into each story make the book seem eerily and frighteningly real, the context so thick and the message of each account so weighted it’s hard not to see this decimated world almost as clearly as the real one—and maybe even clearer.
That’s the scary part. World War Z is a reflection of a global mentality and of a worldwide culture that had let a disaster like this fictional zombie apocalypse happen. What would happen if the unthinkable happened, and the world as we know it was ripped apart and decimated, and now there’s nothing left to do but take the rap for it and pick up the pieces?
This isn’t your every day zombie story—it digs just a little deeper. When you finish that last page and close the book, you’ll have food for thought.
Although admittedly, if you have a weak stomach, you won’t want to eat right away either.
Title: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Author: Max Brooks (also author of The Zombie Survival Guide)
Pages: 352 pages