I have been reluctant to read this book, despite all the recommendations that I have had, because zombies are my weakness. I know they are kind of ridiculous (notwithstanding the inevitable invasion), but nothing gives me nightmares like zombies. I love and own Shaun of the Dead, but have not been able to rewatch it, and the 2004 Dawn of the Dead movie still gives me night terrors. That little girl in Sarah Polley’s bedroom on the first morning, and then the escape through bathroom window, gah.
All that being said, I really enjoyed World War Z. The book is a collection of survivor’s tales, interviews that were not included in the UN report after the war has ended. Brooks does an excellent job of making sure the voice of each survivor is distinct and unique, and also is careful to make all the survivors seem very human – no superheroes, (nearly) everyone suffering and just trying to survive in their unique circumstance. The book surveys an interesting group of survivors, from different countries and different experiences of the war. There really isn’t any glory or glamour involved, but lots of suffering and complex reasoning. That being said, the characters all have engaging stories; I particularly enjoyed reading of the stories of the Japanese student who was too engrossed in online culture to really understand what was going on at first, the astronauts stuck on the Space Station, and the strategists who developed the survival plans. The stories all felt so authentic, so the details about the zombie physiology and abilities were a bit… distressing for me – of course they can survive underwater, but I had never considered that before – gah again.
I understand that Brad Pitt has been filming a movie version of the book for some time now. Given that the narrator is anonymous and largely removed from the story, I am curious as to how the vignettes will be tied together over the course of the movie, unless the narrator becomes a character in the film. One of the interesting things in the book is that the characters are allowed to tell their own stories and are not edited by the interviewer, so the movie might be quite a different experience. In any case, I thought the story was cleverly constructed and very entertaining, and would highly recommend it.