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Friday, October 14, 2011

Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time.World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War. (From Goodreads)

World War Z is an oral history of what happened in various parts of the world when the zombie epidemic occurred.  It’s called a world war because that was the response necessary to save humanity.  All of the earth’s population was under attack, animals too.  Only with an all out effort could the zombies be eliminated.  Also the psychological effect of “winning” a war was something humanity needed.  When you have been beaten down and brought to the brink of extinction by a tough to kill, mindless enemy, a victory goes a long way. 

These oral stories were collected from every corner of the globe, mostly from armed services personnel or other front line fighters.  The storyline of the book evolves from when the first cases were discovered to the “victory” and aftermath .  Events in between are also covered, such as how people fled, a major ground battle outside New York City, and  how government responded.  That last bit is quite shocking, but it makes sense.  The one bright spot is that at some point, the world government realized they had to work together, to a degree.  I’d like to say there were specific stories that struck a chord with me. However it was the entire book and it’s plausibility that stays with me.

Forget it’s a zombie apocalypse and think of it as an infectious disease outbreak instead.  The initial outbreaks are hushed up by the government, public panic and all, and everyone involved is silenced.  This information can’t get out.  When it does eventually reach mainstream media, it’s a byline story on the news.  Let’s face it, the news really isn’t news anyway; around the few lines of actual news, are plenty of celebrity information and what your neighbor tweeted or said on Facebook.  People don’t really pay attention to the news anyway.  So this outbreak is brewing, and before you know it, people are sick, there’s no food on store shelves, you grab your guns, etc.  This is a worldwide crisis; society will start to break down and tough decisions are going to have to be made.

I liked this book so much, not only because of its plausibility, but Brook’s ability to get me to empathize with each and every story teller; even the gentleman who comes up with a plan to save the small populations that are left.  It’s quite a gruesome plan but someone has to say it.  Brooks captures the behavior of people and government quite well, and this book provides the reader with plenty of food for thought.  Zombie apocalypse, nuclear war, flu epidemic, regardless of what it is, society will break down.  What would you do?  I’m not saying come up with a plan, but maybe we should pay more attention to the world out there, and hold our news organizations and governments accountable for providing us with actual information instead of just fluff.

My Rating: 95/100

Publisher: Crown Publishers
Genre: Dystopian, War
Hardback 342 pages
Book Source: borrowed from the library