Horror Book Review: World War Z (Max Brooks)


World War Z is probably the greatest book written about the walking dead. Smart, terrifying, exciting, emotional…it’s a book that will make you believe a zombie pandemic is not far off.

The book style comes in the form of interviews conducted by a narrator. The narrator is an agent of the United Nations Post-war Commission & is detailing as much information about what happened so we never make the same mistakes again.

Split into sections the initial interviews detail early outbreaks & the Chinese government’s attempts to hide it away.

One of the re-occurring themes throughout is regret…the mistakes humanity made by ignoring the threat, not taking it seriously enough & in the case of more isolated countries…hiding the truth.

More cases…small at first are recorded in the book…thrilling stuff about organ transplanting & human trafficking before a larger outbreak in South Africa makes everyone pay a bit more attention.

As the outbreaks quicken we see how other countries take measures to try & halt the spread. Israel’s quarantine that leads to a civil war is exciting to read, they were on the right path but people didn’t understand. We then focus on the US & their arrogance. A super-confident nation that isn’t concerned with the problems of third-world countries. Throw in a supposed vaccine that the pharmaceutical companies are happy to make money from & what we get is…

The Great Panic.

This section of the book is a whirlwind of chaos…the world begins to crumple as Pakistan & Iran fight a nuclear war, the US army gets destroyed in a failed battle at Yonkers & the infection spreads to all corners of the globe.

Humanity faces extinction so a plan is put in place. Many countries have their own version but each amounts to the same thing….fortify sanctuaries, abandon many survivors to distract the dead giving those escaping a chance to get away.

It’s a horrific plan & the man involved is not thanked for it…but it does work.

The book then deals with the survival of the last bastions of humanity & then our fight back against the hordes of the dead. Hope is the theme that takes over here, humanity isn’t dead & we can either roll over & die or fight back.

A more technical side of the fight-back is put on display here as well as tales of intense heroism & survival. The difference is cultures & how many countries had their own issues makes for a good read. The section that details North Korea effectively ‘disappearing’ is both intriguing & extremely spooky. The same can be said about the French attempting to clear their catacombs…something no-one would envy.

It’s less about winning & more about surviving, humanity was at the brink & we managed to pull ourselves back. The events detailed throughout this incredible book make it all feel more real than it should. The level of insight & detail given to every event is amazing. These people feel real, their stories feel real & you’ll feel the fear & hope in equal amounts.

By time you’ve reached the breathless end you’ll be wishing for more pages.

Possibly the great piece of zombie fiction that exists today…so good that you’ll believe that it’s actually a factual documentary.

World War Z (Max Brooks)
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