Tuesday, 2 August 2011

41/111 – World War Z by Max Brooks

I haven’t really been enjoying reading so much lately. I’ve been stressed with work, and I’ve started a new job, etc etc. However I’ve recently started looking at books again and getting that feeling I used to have. That feeling where I have to keep turning the pages, and where I go into a bookshop, look at the new books and my hands itch to pick up something new and amazing.

I’ve been talking a lot more about books in the real world, too. Mostly with people from work, which is really what prompted me to read World War Z, even though I read it a couple of years ago.

It’s really excellent.

It’s by the same dude who wrote the Zombie Survival Guide, which I’ve never really looked through. It’s pretty much an oral history set at some point in the indeterminate future, in which the world is recovering from a zombie holocaust. I’m already a big fan of zombie culture, so I had a pretty good idea that I was going to enjoy this book, but it was brilliant in a way I hadn’t expected.

There is no narrator or characters, as such. The book is laid out as a non-fiction collection of interviews, vignettes and monologues from people all over the world and with different roles and experiences of their time during what they call the Great Panic. It’s very journalistic in style, which was a surprise for me, but was extremely enjoyable. Each section gives you only the briefest glimpse into what it was like for each person, which can be a little tantalising and frustrating, but I think that Brooks really manages to pull it off. The interviews are utterly convincing and human.

Another thing he does really well is portraying this disaster in a realistic way. It’s not gory or slapstick in the way that zombie movies sometimes can be. He seems to have considered every angle in ways that I had never even considered. For example there’s a great passage from an astronaut who happened to be based in a space station at the time of the apocalypse, and another very moving section based on a submarine. There are some amazing stories of heroism, as well as stories of the more scummy side of humanity.

This is a really excellent book, and I’m pretty excited to hear that it’s being made into a film. The reason I decided to read this again is that I’d been talking to someone at work about it, and was going to let them borrow it. But just talking about it had suddenly made me feel quite excited about the possibility of reading it again, so I decided to read it myself first. Well worth the second read.

Next: Grow Up by Ben Brooks

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