A few years back while waiting at the bus stop early one morning I saw one of my neighbors reading a paperback copy of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. At the time, I figured she was reading some piece of cheap, lousy science fiction so I didn’t think much of it. Later, as I begin to hear more and more positive things about Max Brooks’ novel, I thought it might be a wise idea to give it a shot, should I ever come across it during one of my frequent library visits. Then, after falling in love with the AMC television series The Walking Dead and hearing the news that a movie based on the novel staring Brad Pitt is on its way (early rumors are the thing looks awful) what did I find one day sitting on a shelf at my local public library but a slightly dog-eared yet reasonably intact paperback copy of World War Z. Figuring the time was right, I swiped Brooks’ novel and headed to the automated check-out machine. After letting it sit around the house for a week ignored and unread I finally picked it up and began reading it. Not only did it exceed my expectations, I have to say that pure and simple, World War Z is a blast.
Some people will say they loved a particular piece of nonfiction because it read like it was fiction. I think one of the reasons I enjoyed World War Z so much it’s fiction that reads like nonfiction. The novel, as its subtitle declares is a collection of oral histories from individuals from around the world. Survivors of the Zombie War, each of their stories are unique and entertaining to read. Brooks serves up his tales of terror and disaster with generous helpings of horror, loss, irony, hope and even humor. While most reviewers point to Studs Turkel’s The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two as an inspiration for World War Z, I also suspect Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka’s 1984 novel Warday, in which a pair of authors travel cross-country interviewing survivors of a limited nuclear war, heavily influenced Brooks.
One can speculate forever which books might have inspired Brooks. With me anyway there is no debate when it comes to the overall quality of World War Z. I thoroughly enjoyed this highly entertaining and creative novel. Highly recommended.