Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

Genre: Apocalyptic  Age Level: Adult Series: N/A
Genre: Apocalyptic
Age Level: Adult
Series: N/A

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.


I going to issue a warning before I start my review. I feel like one of those TV show disclaimers: The following program contains scenes of violence, nudity and mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. But seriously, this is an adult book. I contains scenes of gore, violence and swearing. It also touches some mature subjects, so I would not recommend this book to a younger audience.

I figured that a book about zombies would just be a gorey, far-fetched battle and I couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead, it is one of the most interesting and thorough novels I have read.

The point of the book was not really the zombies, but how the world would react in a worst case scenario. What would different governments do? Intelligence Agencies? Armies? Heath and Humanitarian Organizations? Normal people? I don’t think this book left a stone unturned. It dealt with military tactics, government plans, vaccinations, the psychological aspect and the lengths people will take to guarantee their safety.

There are key figures, key battles and new terminology. The attention to detail is immaculate. New weapons and battle tactics are invented and all the logic behind it is sound. Everything that happens happens for a reason and I can’t imagine what it must have been like to sit down and figure out every painstaking detail. Each country’s history is taken into account when considering how they would react, who they would help and who they would nuke. Through comprised of dozens of interview, the novel still progresses in a linear fashion, beginning with patient x and ended with the (we hope) eradication of the zombies.

If there were to be a zombie attack, these are the kind of zombies there would be. Not the rising from the grave type, but the spreading virus type. They are given an Achille’s heel and we get to learn a little (as they are hard to study) about what makes them tick. Even animals are brought into the story and their responses to the zombies.

However I feel that I didn’t connect to the book as much as I wanted to because of the format. With so many characters in the book, it is hard to form a connection with any of them. Each interview needed to be much more riveting and emotional to really hit home. Reading it felt like I was reading about a battle that happened years ago and don’t care about. I wanted to feel scared and think that this could actually happen, that tomorrow I could wake up and be surrounded by zombies. Some POV’s will stick with me better than others, but that’s just the nature of the story.

The book is action packed and sometimes scenes of intense action occur in the most unlike of POVs. It is a fast moving page turner as each POV brings something new to the table. It is ultimately a story of survival and hope and inner strength. I will end with a final word of advice: aim for the brain.


Have you read this book? What did you think? 


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