Zombie fiction is hot right now, whether it be a satirical take on the genre, such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, or tried and true zombie horror found in the Brian Keene zombie trilogy. There is one book I recently read that takes the genre in a new direction… World War Z by Max Brooks, son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft. We own two copies at home, one book and one CD. My husband has raved about it since it came out. A movie is in talks… So when our horror book club was choosing titles, I suggested it.
The book follows the outbreak of “zombism” through its initial stages, the world war against it and the aftermath. The story is told through a series of interviews with a variety of characters, young, old, some criminal, some saintly, plenty of military (this is a war after all) from throughout the world who have managed to survive. In doing this, you get different perspectives on social, cultural and political issues that directly impact the way the outbreak begins, spreads, is fought and eventually won. Prejudices are torn apart, countries once weak become strong, those once strong must struggle to stay that way. Characters are also transformed through their experiences. Some are living more now then before the war, when they led isolated lives.
The cause of the outbreak is never explained. I liked that. We don’t need an explanation for everything. The survivors and victims never had explanations, so why should we? You’re alongside those being interviewed, living those harrowing moments. You’re confused, scared, sad, sickened, perhaps even exhilarated. Whether the person was fighting in the streets or climbing a sheet rope escaping a former live and now hungry tenant from their apartment building, you’re with them. I loved some of these people, hated others…
While most horror books like to focus on the shock, this book focuses on the struggle of people to keep a bit of humanity and sanity, even for those who weren’t terribly humane or sane to begin with. Its filled with many, many stories that make you think, if a zombie war were to happen, would this be me?