World War Z by Max Brooks

It is almost Halloween, what better to kick off this week than zombies.  ‘When there is no room left in hell, the dead will walk the Earth’.  One of my favorite monsters since I was a little chive and first saw 1978’s Dawn of the Dead from zombie genius George A. Romero.  The culture has exploded over the last couple decades, where zombies cover every media, and have become common place in pop culture.  Then along came an authors in literature who began to reinvent what a zombie story could be, one was Robert Kirkman, one of the biggest names in comics today; the other is Max Brooks who made a name for himself with The Zombie Survival Guide, but truly established himself in the culture with follow up novel, World War Z.

Published in 2006, it is shocking that we are celebrating the 10 year anniversary of this novel already.  Tagged as ‘An Oral History of the Zombie War’ World War Z is an apocalyptic horror comprised of a collection of short recorded accounts of how the world survived an overwhelming zombie plague.  Inspired by The Good War: An Oral History of World War II by Studs Terkel, this zombie reimagining includes many individual tales and the drastic effects on socialism, religion, environment and politics.  Touching on many socialist issues and modern incompetency’s, the novel was a major hit in sales and reviews.

The inclusion of many unique and diverse perspectives made this book original and special.  Some of the best conversations on modern politics and society are discussed in chapters.  While other chapters feature some of the best zombie stories you will ever read.  Personal favorite was the Battle of Yonkers in which the American military is shown to falter in the biggest, clumsiest zombie battle yet.  Real, in the sense that when facing a supernatural enemy, the mistakes that take place would be an inevitability.  What is most impressive is Mr. Brooks ability to handle a wide range of characters and situations and make them unique and believable.

To be fair, I read this book ten years ago.  But, I want to do this review today, a) because it is friggin’ Halloween! b) It is a dang good book, and c) the debate over last nights season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead.


As a fan of both original literature works, of course I was ecstatic for each to gain there live action adaptations.  However, they got things completely backwards:

The Walking Dead is a wonderful drama and great story telling.  Unfortunately, it runs out of steam.  The comic content had a great run, at one time being my favorite, must have read of the week.  But, as things progress the story lines begin to lack originality or depth and the same plots begin to repeat themselves, and they try to disguise such with bumping up the gore and violence.  This is what has happened with the television show, why many are pledging their finality with watching, and why I walked away back in season 2 or 3.  If Walking Dead had been released as a feature film, it would have been amazing.  Rick waking up to an apocalypse, finding his family through impossible odds, with an emotional climax of being forced to face down with his best friend.  And, you can debate over who would be the better character behind the trigger, Rick or Carl.  A beautiful story, in the thick of zombie action, with availability for sequels galore.

World War Z, was a title completely wasted on a movie.  With little, to no connection at all from the source material.  I still question the creative choices behind this film.  The nature of the book, a collection of short stories after the zombie plague, leaves it open to endless storylines.  World War Z would be the greatest show on television, each week featuring new characters and new storylines about how the world survived the apocalypse.  A show that would last a decade easily, without having to stretch out plotlines until they are so thin that they lack any flavour.

One of the best books available on zombies and zombie lore, World War Z is a perfect novel for the Halloween season.  There are many elements and perspectives throughout the tales and interviews that I feel confident saying that there is something for everyone; even if zombies are not your thing.  4/5, it has been a long time since I read this book, and the fact that so much has flooded back in my mind, as I write this review, speaks tremendously to its value.  I highly recommend World War Z to any zombie fans out there, and I have been recommending it for almost ten years now.

Thanks booknerds, lets start a petition to get a Walking Dead movie and a World War Z television show.


9 Comments Add yours

  1. Great post, thank you! I read this book at the beginning of this month for the first time and was surprised by just how good it was. I really loved the style, the broad range of characters and underlying social commentary.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved the book, loved the movie! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I saw the movie years ago and liked it. I didn’t even know it was based on a book. Adding it to my TBR. Nice review!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nancy says:

    The audio edition of the book is even better than the print version! Listen to it, to get the full experience. Voiced by: Mark Hamill! Nathan Fillion! Carl Reiner! Denise Crosby! Common! Jeri Ryan! Simon Pegg! Alan Alda!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Green Onion says:

      That is a pretty awesome cast. That sounds totally worth a listen, thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I just rewatched the movie over the weekend! Never read the book though, so I am going to see if my local library has it!


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