Carter Reviews: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

I’ve established in my previous blog that I am a big fan of both politics and zombies. I’m happy to say that I found a book that, like Mira Grant’s Feed, combines these both. However, the approach that this book takes is different to say the least.

The book, written by Max Brooks, is essentially a series of short stories. Each story is a person’s account of what they did and experienced during an epidemic of a zombie virus. Each account is arranged more or less in chronological order, telling the story of the world at large while still telling self-contained narratives. In my opinion, both those individual stories and the overarching timeline deserve praise.

The overall story of how this virus impacts the world is not only well-developed and vivid, but also completely believable. The zombie virus itself isn’t unique, but I don’t think it was really meant to be. The entire book not only justifies and explores the ways that a stock zombie virus works, but explores exactly how such a phenomenon could affect the world. Political and cultural changes, psychological effects, military tactics, even environmental impact are all discussed in the book, and it’s very well done. If a zombie virus were in the world, this book’s interpretation of the effects doesn’t seem far off the mark.

The individual chapters vary in quality, but none of them were bad. In each chapter, the voices and perspectives of the characters being interviewed are all unique, interesting, and realistic. Even if not every chapter is a masterpiece, they all offer a new pair of eyes through which the entire conflict is viewed. It doesn’t feel as if you’re only following a lone, boring, survivor through a scorched, boring world. The chapters very much convey that you are looking at humanity as a whole in this world. Not to mention, there are some chapters that are, in my opinion, absolute gems, that could’ve made wonderful short stories had they been published on their own.

So, overall, I recommend this book very much. Is it high art? Not at all. But the book is interesting, well-written, and a very good example of world-building done right. If you like zombies, or in-depth ‘What If?’ scenarios, this book is most certainly for you.

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