I'm not normally a zombie genre reader, so I'm not quite sure why this book caught my eye in the bookstore... World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. Perhaps it was the "first person account" angle of the story, where the world has barely survived a worldwide war against zombies. Whatever the case, this was an entertaining read with enough room to let your mind imagine what what it might be like to fight an enemy that won't "die" like normal people.
The setting of the book is around 10 to 15 years after the outbreak of the first zombie attacks. The "author" was tasked with gathering information from people who survived the war, and that information was to be part of a UN report. But most of his material ended up being cut as it was "too personal." Rather than lose the stories of how people were personally affected, he decided to publish his interviews as a human record of events. Thus, he created the oral history of the war. He talks with a wide spectrum of individuals, from government officials who had to "manage" the public perception, to soldiers who were fighting a relentless and mindless enemy, to those who were just trying to cling to whatever fragments of society remained. With every new interview comes a new angle and perspective to the conflict.
Since this doesn't cover the blow-by-blow history of the actual war, you do need to let the interviews unfold and fill in the details of what started the outbreak, how it spread, and how people mobilized to fight the zombies. And if you stop and think about it at various points, the logistics of fighting zombies that just won't die unless their brains are destroyed presents unique challenges. If one zombie finds you, his moans attract others within hearing distance, which starts their moaning calls, and it cascades from there. In short order, you could have thousands of zombies advancing on you, with no thoughts other than to feed on you and turn you into one of them. Not a pretty thought...
You do have to make some leaps of imagination at points, however. For instance, during one of the interviews, the author goes on a deep-water dive in a submersible. When they get to the bottom, they find... what else? More zombies! So apparently these undead don't need air, can avoid the corrosive nature of salt water, and are not affected by the crushing pressures at the bottom of the ocean. But hey, it's not as if writing about zombies is an exacting science anyway, right? :)
I personally found World War Z one of those quirky but enjoyable reads. It may not fit everyone's taste, but if you're OK with the "undead", you'll probably like it. I still have to laugh at my wife's statement when she saw what I was reading, however... "You sure do have eclectic tastes in reading material..."
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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