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World War Z Front Cover

Fictional Post-Apocalyptic Zombie-Horror Novel by author Max Brooks

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The Truth Inside the Lie

  • Apr 27, 2011
Addictively readable, frighteningly plausible, and undeniably masterful.

When trying to describe what makes World War Z such a great book, one runs out of adjectives quickly. What Max Brooks has done here is nothing short of genius. Quite frankly, while reading, it was hard to remember that this was all fabrication - there is the ring of truth at the heart of this fiction.

The idea is simple: use the structure and concept of Studs Terkel's landmark history of World War Two (The Good War) and make it tell instead the story of an undead epidemic in the near future as a historical document of the war against the zombie (or "Z" or "Zed Head" or "Zack" - the names for the undead are many). Starting at the advent of the first infected to the rapid spread of the plague to the turn of the tide and beyond, Brooks tells the whole story in the words of those who experienced it.

What seems simple in principle can't have been as easy to do, and the craft here is admirable. Each story is unique and adds a piece of the puzzle while never revealing the full picture. Each voice is distinct and authentic. Each facet is moving in some way.

From those who saw it happen from on high in the International Space Station to those who fought in the tunnels beneath Paris. From the soldiers who survived the disastrous Battle of Yonkers to those who were witness to the Battle of Hope. From the otaku who climbed to safety in Japan to the freedom fighter in the Middle East. From the trainer of a canine war veteran to "the Whacko," the man who was once Vice President of the United States.

In World War Z we hear from each of these people, and many many more. Through subtle and clever cultural references and deep political background we see the world as it might become in the face of such catastrophe, when the entire human race is faced with total war against a relentless opponent. It changes the face of life on Earth and the way we look at war.

All this in a book about zombies? You bet your life.

World War Z is the first book I've read that takes the idea of an undead epidemic completely seriously. There are no winks to the reader or superheroes to save the day. It plays every fear to the hilt, and never falters. Simply put, this is a book that doesn't screw around. It goes right for the throat.

There's a neat trick in World War Z, a little misdirection that takes you by surprise. On the surface, it's a book about a zombie war - a completely ridiculous concept, right? But there are truths here that most books never touch, about brutality and war and fear, and also about honesty and faith and hope.

The truth at the heart of World War Z is the truth of the human spirit. This is horror fiction at its finest.

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More World War Z reviews
review by . June 30, 2010
  World War Z is unlike typical zombie stories in the way it is presented. The story is told as a record of personal accounts. This documentary approach is something of a fresh take on "Z War One." The reading difficulty is appropriate for high-schoolers and up. Utilizing fragments and stage directions, the story’s voice feels like spoken words in conversation. The text is not convoluted or difficult to understand. Metaphors and similes are very sparse. Sections of the book …
review by . July 14, 2010
World War Z , in my humble opinion, is one of the best pieces of fiction to come out in a long time.  Not only does the book immediately snag your attention with its graphic descriptions of the events leading up to the "plague," it also presents the story of the zombie war and its aftermath in a way that one wouldn't normally expect from this type of fiction.  The events unfold slowly.  The reader is taken around the world through a series of interviews with survivors.  …
review by . July 02, 2010
This book is funny, scary, thoughtful, and a little disturbing. I have read it many times and will read it again. I would recommend this book to any zombie fans, and especially anyone who enjoyed Max Brooks' previous undead effort. This book is set in the world of The Zombie Survival Guide, but clearly after something has actually happened. Reading the guide is a good prelude to reading this book. Not written as a conventional novel, the structure of this book (stories from many different people …
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
Love this book!
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
Wonderful for any zombie lover!
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
Engaging and funny without being a parody (like Brooks' other zombie book). Good companion to the survival guide.
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
The Zombies WILL eat your brains!
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
One of the first books in a long time that really freaked me out. Such a fun read.
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Rich Stoehr ()
Ranked #78
I often hide behind a pithy Douglas Adams quote or maybe some song lyrics. I guess it makes sense that much of what I share is reviews of things I like (or don't).      People … more
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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (abbreviated WWZ) is a 2006 horror, post-apocalyptic novel by Max Brooks. World War Z is follow-up to his previous book, The Zombie Survival Guide (2003). Rather than a grand overview or a single perspective, World War Z is a collection of individual accounts in the form of interviews of the characters by the author. Brooks plays the role of an agent of the United Nations Postwar Commission who published the novel a decade after the Zombie War in this fictional future after the United Nations left out much of his work from the official report, as it chose to focus on the facts and figures of the war rather than the human aspects he included. The novel charts a decade-long war against zombies from the view point of many different people and nationalities. In addition, the personal accounts describe the changing religious, geo-political, and environmental aftermath of the Zombie War.

World War Z was inspired by the The Good War, an oral history of World War II by Studs Terkel, and by the works of George Romero the famous zombie film director. Brooks used World War Z to provide social commentary on topics such as government ineptitude and American isolationism, while also covering the themes of survivalism and uncertainty. Critics have praised the novel for reinventing the zombie genre and the audiobook version, complete with a full cast, won a Audie Award in 2007. A film based upon the book is in development, being produced by Plan...

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