Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

World War Z

by Max Brooks

Summary: Brooks, author of the straight-faced parody "The Zombie Survival Guide," tells the story of the world's desperate battle against the zombie threat with a series of first-person accounts by various characters around the world.


5 star

If I could give this more than 5 stars, I would.

This book is freaking brilliant.

Instead of being a character driven zombie novel, it is a series of interviews done after the zombie war. Some people wanted more of an action packed story from start to finish and rated this book lower. But haven’t we had more than enough of that?

This is such a refreshing take on zombies. It is well done, well researched, almost real in some places. Some scenes were so action packed and terrifying, I read with my eyes wide open and my jaw dropped. On the front of my book, it says, “Probably the most topical and literate scare since Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds radio broadcast.” from the Dallas Morning News. I can say that I definitely agree. While I never heard that radio broadcast, I’ve heard the horror stories of people thinking this was actually happening.

World War Z is so creative, so haunting, so f***ing well done, I could just hug Max Brooks.

Now, I’m a zombie fan. I joke about the zombie apocalypse, I own rifles and occasionally shoot at funny zombie looking targets at the range. I watch The Walking Dead and I ponder what the apocalypse might be like. I’m not quite as INTO it as some people, but I am still a fan of zombies. And when my husband and I talk about the what-ifs of a zombie apocalypse, we talk about the government and what people would do and if zombies could walk around or swim underwater. So what makes this book so brilliant is that Brooks did the same thing, researched aspects of the world’s governments and brought us a clear what-if picture. It’s believable and smart. It covers just about every base, every question we may have as what-if thinkers. Even the human aspect. How would we react to our fellow neighbors?

There’s this one part, where this woman in Topeka, Kansas recalls her experiences. I wish I had the energy to type the whole thing out, but it was so chilling. “[Sharon mimics the moan of a zombie. It is undoubtedly the most realistic I have ever heard. Clearly, by their discomfort, Sommers and Kelner agree.] They were coming. They came bigger. [Again, she moans. Then follows up by pounding her right fist on the table.] They wanted to come in. [Her blows are powerful, mechanical.] People screamed. Mommy hugged me tight…” I mean, wow. It’s so creepy. The whole scene just builds and builds.

I know the zombie thing and even Brooks himself has kind of a cult following. I’m not really a part of that, but I do think Brooks is genius and I’ve never seen such believable zombie literature. Sure, the survival guide was a little believable. I kept reading some of the training stuff thinking, “I should totally be doing that,” but more in a joking way. This book, however, is definitely believable. I’d love to hear this one read on air. The movie should be awesome, though.

I could go on and gush even more about how much I loved this book. But I suppose I’ll stop. I would definitely recommend it to people, even those that aren’t all that into the whole zombie joke. It’s still good, it’s still interesting and well written and well thought out.

I will say that because this whole war isn’t real and it’s written by one man, I think it’s wrong to place it in comparison to real war survival accounts and tragic stories. The human voices in those accounts will be much more powerful that anything Brooks can do. But if you remember that this book is written by one man with quite the imagination, you can appreciate it.