Monthly Archives: November 2012
Posted by Alan Edwards
Side note: yes, I know I’m a week late on The Walking Dead Episode 3. I just finished watching it this morning since I was busy last week. Plus the events of Episode 4 were surprisingly spoiled by close to a dozen people on Facebook within hours of it being shown, leaving me ambivalent for the moment. I’ll get to them. Promise. Here’s a heapin’ helpin’ of rage to tide you over.
World War Z is a book. It’s a zombie book. It was written by Max Brooks, son of Mel, who also wrote The Zombie Survival Guide. Both of them are considered essential reading by zombie aficionados for very good reasons. They are smart, well-written, and funny while treating their subject matter seriously. They are near and dear to my heart, as they are to many. Upon finishing my first zombie novel, The Curse of Troius, my dear friend and sadly passed Carl Spicer declared simply, “I’ve only read one good zombie novel, and that was World War Z.” (Sorry Carl, you know I can’t resist telling people that even though you tried to explain what you meant. It’s too good a line. Miss you, bud.) Max Brooks’ books are the literary equivalent to Romero’s cinematic influences on the entire zombie genre.
What makes World War Z special for me and many others is its story structure. Instead of focusing on a particular protagonist, the story is presented as one-on-one interviews with a wide range of people who were involved in the zombie war that ended ten years prior to the story. This allows the tale of the war to spin out in little vignettes, from its ostensible beginnings in China to its spread throughout the world and eventual conclusion, as told by the eyewitnesses to the events. The different stories highlight bravery and cowardice, self-sacrifice and self-promotion, agony and joy and despair and hope and everything in between. The eyewitnesses are neither good nor bad; they’re people, some more sympathetic than others. Reading through the novel provides the best of both worlds: the epic saga of man’s battle against the shambling hordes of the infected dead as a whole, and the harrowing and humanizing tales of the individuals swept up in it all. It is a remarkable book. If you’ve never read it, buy it here. It will not disappoint.