World War Z by Max Brooks Review: The movie was better

October 1, 2013 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

World War Z by Max Brooks Review: The movie was betterWorld War Z by Max Brooks
Published by Random House on September 12, 2006
Source: Purchased
Genres: Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic, Horror, War & Military
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“The end was near.” —Voices from the Zombie War

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.

Being a zombie lover, this was a must read on my long list, but I somehow managed to watch the movie before the book. The movie was awesome, I really loved the concept behind the zombie warfare and other countries gearing up to defeat the apocalypse in different ways.

However, the book itself was a shock. It’s called World War Z, because it’s mostly filled with stories from old war veterans who experienced the zombie war. Filled with interviews from a bunch of different people all over the world, post zombie apocalypse, the book mostly explores the warfare behind each country and the weapons and strategies they used to mitigate the zombies.

What I liked about World War Z

  • Some really interesting accounts from unique people. My favourite was the one of the Japanese sworld-wielding otaku (or nerd) and the blind Japanese guy.
  • The amount of research the author has put into the every location featured in the book, the warfare of each country, and all these different people is astounding.
  • Treating the zombie apocalypse as a global epidemic. I really enjoyed the different locations from around the world and snippets of what these places are like postwar.
  • How the author explored how the zombies attacked and came to be in such detail across the world. I always thought an oil tanker or a submarine would be my best bet for surviving the zombie apolcaypse. From underwater zombies, to fast zombies, huge walls to keep the zombie out, zombies in Korea, it’s all covered here.

What I disliked about World War Z

  • Written in a dry, boring, and dull manner. All these people have the same personality (or, no personality).
  • I needed a dictionary at times. Here’s a direct quote from the book “It’s an inherent trait in the national zeitgeist. Whether we realise it or not, even the most indefatigable Luddite can’t deny our country’s technoprowess”. Wuh-what? Almost everyone in the book talks like this.
  • Bogged down in war technicalities and military jargon. Feels like I’m reading an encyclopedia.
  • Interchanges really interesting stories, with your typical dry, boring, war hero account. This was a constant source of frustration for me.

Overall thoughts

I don’t think I would recommend this book to people who loved the movie. Only extreme zombie enthusiasts (like me) who want to know everything and anything about the zombies would probably sit through the hard slog that this book has to offer. But hey, it’s a New York Times Bestseller, so what do I know.

I think the scope and global view of the zombie apocalypse definitely must be commended. No one has ever documented how the zombies came to attack the world around us and what happened post war, and the book title nails it on the head, with most zombie entertainment featuring a small group of survivors. I think the book title captures the experience perfectly as “The oral history of the zombie war”.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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36 responses to “World War Z by Max Brooks Review: The movie was better

  1. I feel it depends the order you've read the book and watched the movie. People who read the book don't like the movie, because it takes the very detailed account and turns it into a single focus, action film. Whereas other, like yourself and me, find the book a bit dry when compared to the movie. Either way, I still love the concept. Great review!
    Kim @ Book Munchies recently posted…Cover Reveal: Where Silence Gathers by Kelsey SuttonMy Profile

  2. This book could've been better in my opinion. I finished it though, but when I was reading it, all I thought about was I want it to be over already. I DO like how the zombie thing was taken, and that it was a unique zombie book, but it was very dry and boring. I have not seen the movie yet, but I heard the movie sucked too? Hmm.. Great review 🙂


    • Me too, I think I ended up skimming towards the end when I realised it was just more of the same 🙁 I loved the movie lol! Nothing like the book or other zombie movies. Thanks for visiting Leigh!

  3. I loved this book and I loved the movie as well. However, I look at them as two completely different story. Basically, they just share a name for me. And I can totally see how someone who watched the movie first might not enjoy the book as much. Definitely glad I ready the book first.
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  4. I could understand a lot of the military lingo because of my boyfriend being a soldier, but I have to say that I do agree with that for most people. Its a LOT to take in. This book was alright for me – not my fav – but still intriguing. Great review, Jeann! 🙂

  5. I actually didn't like the movie. I think it was something to do with Brad Pitt's acting, lol. Besides, I'm pretty used to zombies because of AMC's The Walking Dead, and something about that doesn't make me enjoy a lot of zombie related stuff. If you like zombies a lot, maybe you should check out Mortality by Kellie Sheridan? I didn't enjoy it because of the reason I said above, but other people have enjoyed it more.

    Great review!
    Marianne @ Boricuan recently posted…Review: Introductions by C.L. StoneMy Profile

    • Wow, I guess it's not to everyone's tastes then. I thought Brad Pitt did well lol. Omg, I LOVE Walking Dead, one of my favourite shows (I love the comics too). Will definitely check that one out, got a copy from NG a while back. So you don't like zombies in general?

      • No no. I love zombies! But I just feel like they are all pretty much the same. I keep hoping there's something original about them that I haven't seen before. I liked Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, but the zombie aspect wasn't exactly well developed… Know of any good zombie books?
        Marianne @ Boricuan recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (2)My Profile

  6. Yeah some terms used I was like O_o too – I listening to the audio version though so I didn't bother checking what the words I didn't catch actually meant. The audio itself was fantastic though each character had its own narrator with the right accents and everything. The movie was pretty awesome, though! 😀
    Giselle recently posted…Review: Blackout by Robison WellsMy Profile

  7. I seen the movie while I was in Thailand. My son really liked it, as did I. However, I have yet to read the book so I have no way to compare. *stares on book on the shelf* Someday I will get to it.

    I'm so sorry I accidentally removed your comment from my blog. I was not paying attention to the clicking as I was yelling at the cat to stop scratching the couch. So very sorry. I did read it and thanks for stopping by.


  8. Debbie Krenzer

    Thanks for that heads up. I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie, but didn't get around to it. It sounds like you might have saved me some frustration.

  9. Uh oh, I hate dry and dull writing. I don't want my book to sound like a textbook! I haven't seen the movie, but I've heard awesome things about it.

    Thanks for the review <3
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  10. I might be one of the exceptions, cause even though I enjoyed the movie a lot, I absolutely adored the book! It might be cause I found it extremely different and refreshing in the way it was letting you piece together the whole picture from fragments from one person to another, and how it read as if it would have been real history coming in pieces.
    Pili recently posted…Mark This Book Monday: ARC Review of Tainted by A.E. Rought!My Profile

    • Wow, good to know Pili! It was very different and I can see why it's a NYT best seller, probably a good piece of literary fiction. I just wish the writing wasn't so dry. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I really want to see the movie. I had nooo idea it was a book until now, but after reading that snippet of a sentence? There is NO way I'd survive that book. Funny that it's a NYT bestseller then. The world is very nerdy and intelligent then. 😉

    I'm not sure if I've commented before. I've been a silent follower for a little while. So hey! You have an epic blog (of course) XD

    • Hahaha I know, the book took a lot of skimming but at least I can add it on my list of books I have read. Thanks for following and supporting my blog Cait, great to meet you!