GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Book Review: World War Z by Max Brooks | I Smell Sheep

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Book 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.

Every summer, bookshop shelves explode with a few different types of books. It seems that the second we even consider getting on a plane our brains are hardwired to crave these specific genres. The move tie-in, the Ludlum/Clancy big action books, or if your into that sort of thing, the good old fashioned romance novel.

I was faced with a tough choice, which of these classics would I lean towards? I’m not a romance novel kind of guy, so that was off the table in a second. I decided to go with the scary bogeyman of the 21st century, zombies, and give Max Brooks latest undead offering a read. It also fits neatly into the movie tie-in, with filming still going on in Glasgow.

Max Brooks is one of two things. He is a either a brilliant man, with an amazing gift for making fiction so real you won’t feel fear, you’ll feel proper pants wetting dread. Or he’s full-on batshit insane, and thinks the zombies are actually coming for him. Give either of his Zombie books a read, and you’ll find yourself thinking the same thing, I guarantee it. He creates a realistic model for spread of his zombie virus, creates temporary heroes and villains as he works his way across the globe, “interviewing” those caught up in the hotspots of the zombie war.

The structure of the book works incredibly well here. Written as a kind of half diary / short story compilation, it allows Brooks to temporarily develop briefly meaningful characters, without getting bogged down in details. When we’re hearing about the downed air force pilot fighting her way towards safety we don’t need a complex backstory, we know her motivations. He also has a talent for what I would call pragmatic evil. Try reading about the Redecker plan and not feeling a little bit ill..

All in all I think you’ll like the book. And then you’ll have zombie nightmares for a month.

Guest Review: Michael McCaffrey from Following the Nerd

Max Brooks
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Max Brooks is the author of the two bestsellers "The Zombie Survival Guide" and "World War Z". He has also written for "Saturday Night Live", for which he won an Emmy. His new graphic novel "The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks" will be released in October of 09.


  1. Michael, you never know. The Zombies could very well be coming to eat our brains out. Better to be prepared NOW then when it all hits the fan. Just saying. Nice review my good sir. *tips invisible top hat*

  2. Really like the review! I've gifted my zombie-loving daughter with both of these books recently but haven't read them myself. I'm thinking I should change that - Thanks!