Book Review: World War Z

World War Z: My Attack on the Zombie Genre
By Gabbie Zeller

Zombies are all the rage now, right? From AMC’s The Walking Dead to the new film, Warm Bodies, the world seems to be finally catching on to the craze that seemed unheard of a few years ago. For years only those interested in the horror genre dared to be bold enough to watch human beings rip each other apart. Nowadays, true zombie fans range from classic George A. Romero buffs, to Evil Dead fanatics, to the Resident Evil franchise junkies. The media has done exactly what it did to vampires: normalized and ruined them. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t say ruined… it’s just that the problem these days is finding a decent original and entertaining monster story.

The relatively new, World War Z, by Max Brooks, only stood out to me because of its back cover. I had high hopes for the novel, but it didn’t quite meet my expectations. It was not a horrible novel, but I can definitely say that I expected a lot more from it.  Every zombie story has a formula: throw in a largely populated area, a dash of medical scare, a pinch of panic, and simmer over a crumbling civilization. Now, you have the world ending as we know it, and everyone has to learn to survive or die… The clichés bothered me a little bit, but I was able to get over it.

In World War Z, the biggest upset for me was the composition of the story. I was expecting a cohesive storyline that had interesting central characters. There are always characters in the horror genre that we hope last until the end. Am I wrong? World War Z was not composed in this manner: the entire novel is completely episodic. So much so, that it gets boring, and I got fed up with it.

To help future readers understand my disappointment with WWZ, let me explain the story. World War Z is about a man interviewing various people about a past zombie war. Their stories of ultimately triumphing over the zombie menace are riveting; however, I could not really connect with any character because there were too many diverse stories. I’m not saying that all of the “survivors” stories are dull just that there are too many separate stories. A few accounts are slightly connected, but not by much more than a single thread woven throughout the novel. Out of all of the tales told to the narrator, my favorites were the ones about Iceland and the far north. There was something menacing about the freezing cold, confused soldiers, and an enemy no one had ever encountered.

Despite my qualms, I applaud the author for his style and talent for narrative writing. The novel makes you feel like the zombie war actually happened those years ago. Max Brooks does this on purpose, and executes it well. His idea is very original in a genre that could use a lot more originality. World War Z is very well written, just not what I was looking for in the zombie genre. I would have liked it better if it had been one cohesive story.

The film adaptation of World War Z starring Brad Pitt, is due out in June 2013 and will probably make millions worldwide. Despite its future potential success, I believe that turning this episodic novel into a cohesive story will be a challenge. It may be what I wanted for the book, but I am not a huge fan of films based on books that are similar in name only. But what does it matter? You and I will still go see it anyway. Who knows? It might be the next the Twilight for all I know. Your move, zombie fans….

About the Writer:
My name is Gabriella Zeller, and I am a freshman English major at DePaul. I am from Peoria, IL, three hours south of Chicago. I love to write short stories and hope to go into editing/publishing one day. I believe that to be a good writer one must be an avid reader. Reading is an important hobby instilled in me at a young age by my family. I enjoy reading all types of books and here are a few of my favorites: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, Starter for Ten by Andrew Nicholls, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy by Steig Larsson.

One thought on “Book Review: World War Z

  1. Alex

    I don’t usually do this, but I highly suggest the audio book rather than the book-book. There are very talented voice actors, coupled with the impressive sound effects, which makes a highly enjoyable listening.

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