World War Z (Hey buddy, it's cool now. You can let go.)

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War - Max Brooks

World War Z taught me something about myself. It taught me that yes, I love zombies. And that's OK.

 

The kind of Zombie story I'm used to goes a bit like this: "Hello! These are the main characters. Here they are doing things that will establish their personalities. Oh look! A newspaper in the background with a headline about cannibal drug addicts, or a strange disease. Ah, there are an awful lot military vehicles driving by! I wonder what could be going on? *wink*".

 

Then the something dramatic happens, involving our loveable undead antagonists. And then that's the last we hear of civilization as we follow our hapless group of survivors as they attempt to weather the scourge.

 

Now there's nothing wrong with this; this is where we get the intense human drama I love that springs up from an apocalypse scenario; what should we do with this man who's been bitten? How much should we trust these strangers? However, the reason I loved World War Z is because it does things differently. It gives us a truly global view of the Zombie apocalypse. What happened to those military vehicles? How did the disease spread? In what ways did the different governments of the world handle the situation?

 

Told in the format of a series of interviews, World War Z cobbles together the story of humanity as a species during World War Z. Alternately political, thrilling and deeply psychological, Brooks leaves no stone unturned when painting his picture of the war. The story is brilliantly put together, well imagined and well fleshed out. The various interviewees are also cleverly chosen, ranging from soldiers to refugees, from a Japanese Otaku to an astronaut watching events unfold from the International Space Station.

 

The sections of the book that I ended up enjoying the most were those touching on the human psychology of an apocalypse scenario. I found the idea of Quislings in a zombie situation particularly interesting. How does one attempt to collaborate with an enemy that shows no desire other than to eradicate life, and what would drive a person to do this? How do you stay sane when the world suddenly ceases to make sense?

 

Needless to say, World War Z was a great read, and whilst there are a couple of slow chapters, I would recommend this to anyone at all with an interest in Zombies or the Apocalypse. In fact, I'd recommend this to anyone with brains. Mmm. Brains...