I recently finished reading this book so I thought I’d share my opinion.
Now I must declare my bias, I really like zombie stories, but I tend to go for the movie/graphic novel kind so this was a first to read a zombie story in book format. I also haven’t read the Zombie Survival Guide (the other book by Max Brooks) but it’s had good reviews. That said, I have mixed opinions of this book on the whole so I’ll start with the good.
The fictional story is set sometime in the near future (from what I can tell) after a worldwide apocalyptic war against the undead. There are only hints of how the infection came about, but this is not essential to the plot, which is more a collection of survivors tales than a conventional story.
The survivors accounts are told through a series of interviews by a reporter that travels the world originally on a mission of collecting “facts and figures” from locations across the globe.
I found the whole of the book to be well researched, from the locations down to the weapons, occupations and science. I also found the tales themselves to be fascinating, gut-wrenching and full of imagination.
Some times it felt I was reading a mini-story within a story – some of the tales you could literally see a whole book or movie being extracted from. There are things happening with zombies that have never been tried on film or in any media I’ve read or seen – underwater ghouls, a blind Japanese warrior, astronauts in space. I particularly enjoyed the neo-references to LaMOEs, lobos and quislings. Brooks seems to have thought of things that no-one would have thought of were this a real event.
Now for some tiny annoyances. I felt through a large part of the book that the writing style was the same, for people who would be culturally, linguistically and phonetically miles apart. It got better towards the end of the book but at times it was a bit jarring. Particularly since I like to read accents in my head.
The other thing, minor detail, was that Brooks fell into the typical American trap of misapplying a British turn of phrase. “Taking the piss out” is not some kind of tribal psyching up that Brits do before a battle. It’s something we occasionally do to people who don’t get our humour or customs. Take note!
Other than that, great stories, great read. Well worth picking up if you are into zombies and you want to see a different kind of survival.
Buy World War Z at Amazon.co.uk