Sunday, June 23, 2013

Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

Publisher: September 12, 2006 Crown
Genre: Dystopia, Horror
Format: Hardback
Source: borrowed from a friend

Goodreads Summary
Soon to be a major motion picture!

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.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”

Note: Some of the numerical and factual material contained in this edition was previously published under the auspices of the United Nations Postwar Commission.

"Don't worry, everything's going to be alright."

This book is written as an oral retelling of the history of the zombie war. It's a very different writing style than I'm used to, but worked perfectly for this type of story, making it unique and interesting. The book starts being told 12 years after the continental U.S. celebrated its victory, so you know how the story ends when it begins. The Chapters are laid out as 'Warnings', 'Blame', 'The Great Panic', 'Turning the Tide', 'Home Front USA', 'Around the World and Above', 'Total War', and 'Good-Bye'. Each Chapter has separate sections that are interviews with different survivors that have something to do with the Chapter's title.

The Good

What I liked most about this book is that it is very easy to read. You have these sections in the Chapters so you can read the full Chapters at a time if you'd like or you can easily stop after reading just one small section that's just a few pages long. The way the story is written is so unique because it's all done as a historically accurate view of a war that's happened. Interviews done with Generals, doctors, the Vice President, etc. from all parts of the world that show different viewpoints of what was happening in each field and in each country during the phases of the war.

It was so fascinating getting to learn about patient zero that started it all, the warning signs that were ignored, and the first encounters with something they never thought could exist. The different countries that were examined and the political aspects of everything that happened was incredibly realistic and well-researched. The book is so thought-provoking, making me often wonder what I would do in each of these survivor's situations. I'll tell you now that if zombies ever attack, it will be a terrifying thing. The fact that this enemy doesn't have to eat, breathe, or sleep even when your army has to, is a bad place to be in. Throw in the fact that when they take one of your soldiers, they are increasing their own ranks, then it becomes a spectacularly scary enemy to face. On top of the zombies they were up against, they also had to combat humans going crazy and acting like zombies (called quislings), children raised in the wild with no parents (called ferals), wild animals, rebels, and people called LaMOES that did anything they could to survive including shooting down anyone that came close, no matter if they were friendlies or the living dead.

Then I got to learn about the battle strategies, the zombies taking over the waters because they didn't have to breathe, and overall final skirmishes that ended the war. There was one really intriguing section all about how the army used dogs to help them win. They trained mutts to be scouts and decoys. Things like this were just really interesting to think about.

The Bad

You do already know the outcome of the story when it starts. While this wasn't necessarily a bad thing in my opinion because I was invested in finding out what all happened, it could turn some readers off.

Some of the sections were by far more entertaining than others. I'll admit to skimming through a few that just weren't that important to me in terms of the outcome of the war or adding new information for what was happening in their world.

The Romance

Yeah, there's no romance in this book, though there is a section about "the greatest weapon a Russian woman can wield is her uterus." It was about rebuilding the population of the world now that the war was over. So, ummm, that was a little odd.


I was taken aback by how much I liked this book. I don't usually enjoy historical books in general and this is my first zombie book, so I'll admit to not expecting a lot out of it. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of information it held about a world racked by war, and the amazing accounts of survivors that included not just fights, but all aspects of how a world is affected, from the end of DVD players and whales to the population being united in a single shared experience. If you like zombies at all or reading a thought-provoking novel, then this is one you sure don't want to miss.


"Airholes...they really didn't know what was happening to their loved ones."

"Secrecy is a vacuum, and nothing fills a vacuum like paranoid speculation."

"If the rest of the world wasn't ready to believe something so outrageous, why should the men and women in this room?"

"For the first time in history, we faced an enemy that was actively waging total war. They had no limits of endurance. They would never negotiate, never surrender. They would fight until the very end because, unlike us, every single one of them, every second of every day, was devoted to consuming all life on Earth. That's the kind of enemy that was waiting for us beyond the Rockies. That's the kind of war we had to fight."

"Racism is a regrettable by-product of irrational emotion."

"The first casualty of the conflict must be our own sentimentality for its survival will mean our destruction."

"The more work you do, the more money you make, the more peons you hire to free you up to make more money. That's the way the world works. But one day it doesn't. No one needs a contract reviewed or a deal brokered, what it does need is toilets fixed. And suddenly that peon is your teacher, maybe even your boss. For some, this was scarier than the living dead."

I plan on going to see the movie sometime very soon. Will you be watching the movie?


  1. Thank you :D I didn't really know what to say about the romance LOL. I think the writing style will definitely be hit-or-miss with readers. Some will appreciate it for what it is and others will be turned off because of it. I hope you enjoy it when you read it. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  2. Okay, okay, I'll give this one a shot. I don't normally like zombies, but if this is something you don't normally read and you LIKED it, I probably will too! :) Thanks for reading and reviewing this one, Jaclyn!

  3. LOL I really didn't think I was going to like it much, but I did. Like I told Jennifer though, I do think the writing style will be hit-or-miss with the readers. If you try it out, I certainly hope you enjoy it :D

  4. I'm not excatly a big fan of zombies, but you still made me want to read World War Z! How is that possible?
    Thanks for sharing Jaclyn. Happy reading :)

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

  5. I keep thinking I want to read this based on the movie that just came out..haven't seen it but I always like to compare!

  6. It's interesting that this is told as a historical narrative, and I like the idea that the chapters are broken down into smaller sections. It also sounds like there's a lot of detail behind how the zombie outbreak began, which is the complete opposite of the zombie book I read for the month, lol.

  7. LOL! That's quite a compliment, thank you. I understand completely though. I wasn't sure at all how I was going to feel about zombies having never read them before. This is my zombie month for my Paranormal Challenge so I just finished my 2nd zombie book and am working on my 3rd. I've enjoyed them a whole lot more than I ever thought I would. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  8. Wow. Great to hear. I'm curious about this one. And the movie too.

  9. I think this one will be an interesting one for you if you do the adaptations post on it. From everything I've seen, the movie and books are far different. I haven't watched the movie yet, but the character in the trailer isn't even in the book nor are any of the scenes that I saw in the trailer for the movie. I have a feeling it will be quite different but a good movie to watch all the same. It would definitely give you a lot to write about :D

  10. LOL I understand that for sure. Sometimes we are just thrown into a world and meant to follow along without really finding out how it got to that point. Thank you so very much for stopping by!

  11. I hope to watch the movie sometime very soon! Thank you so much for stopping by :D

  12. LMAO, the romance part is hilarious. Anyways, happy this was a good one overall. I am not sure If I am going to like the writing style but I will be trying it out anyways.


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