Monday, June 24, 2013

Bookish (and Movie) Thoughts: World War Z by Max Brooks


World War Z by Max Brooks
Crown Publishing, 2006
Fiction (Horror); 352 pgs
Movie: World War Z directed by Marc Forster, 2013


If you missed my attempt at fiction writing and my mid-way check in for the World War Z read-along hosted by Natalie of Coffee and a Book Chick, you can catch up here.

A friend noticed I was reading World War Z by Max Brooks and asked me about it.  She doesn't like to read about zombies and so was upfront about the fact that she would not likely read this particular book.  The sad thing is I think this book would be perfect for her--if she could see past the zombies.  Except for them, it has everything she loves in a novel.  The novel is entertainment and also a social commentary on today's society, both from an international and national standpoint.  On the surface the book is about an incurable virus that spreads from one reanimated corpse to living humans and how humankind deals and copes with the the devastation that follows.  However, the book also delves into issues of corruption and sensationalism, government incompetence and mismanagement, isolation, and the lack of preparation for disasters, both on global, local and individual levels.  You can insert any apocalyptic type disaster, and I imagine the story would be similar in terms of response and in survival.  Zombies work best, I think, because they are a representation of our fears and possibly our mortality.

The book is written as if it is a recording of individual accounts during the war, put together by a United Nations agent who traveled the world to conduct the interviews.  It is the perfect way to present the story--opening it up for different perspectives as well as getting a more well rounded idea of what the world would have been like had there really been a World War Z.  It gave the novel a documentary feel to it, providing both technical and personal aspects to the story.

The details and technical aspects ground the novel in reality making it more believable even in spite of the zombies, but it is the personal stories that give the novel heart.  From the smuggler to the soldiers to the civilians to the government worker to the dogs who helped in the effort to win the war.  I was especially drawn to the more personal stories, of the struggles the interviewees had.  There was so much frustration, anger, grief, desperation and terror in their words.  Their resilience and perseverance is a testament to the human will to survive.  It was a humbling experience for many, and a growth experience for all. And one that left me in awe of Max Brooks.

As I read the book, I tried to figure out where the movie might fit in.  From the movie trailer, I knew the movie could not possibly encompass all that the novel is.  And it didn't.  The movie was but one tiny slice of the book, a very loose interpretation at that.  Much is different between the two.  While the book covers the war in its entirety, the movie only touches on a small part of it, following just one character and his family (not even characters in the book).  The methods used to fight off the zombies varies from format to format, which, I suppose makes sense.  The book is much harsher in terms of its approach--bringing in moral and ethical dilemmas that really make one question and think.  The movie is less controversial in that sense, I thought--safer and likely more appealing to a wider audience.

In the movie, former United Nations agent Gerry Lane (played by Brad Pitt) is tasked with tracking down the source of the zombie pandemic and finding a way to stop it.  The film is fast paced, intense and well plotted.  It was very entertaining, and although it strayed from the book considerably and at times was predictable, I didn't mind at all.  It was hard not to laugh at the teeth chattering, but other than that, the zombies were pretty scary.  There were several white knuckle moments throughout the movie, including the scenes in Jerusalem and the Cardiff lab.  The movie is pure action packed fun.

Both the book and movie proved to be a great way to start the summer season, each for very different reasons.

Many thanks to Natalie of Coffee and a Book Chick for letting me read World War Z alongside her!



Rating:  * (Very Good)
You can learn more about Max Brooks and his books on the author's website.

Source: I purchased a copy of the book for my own reading pleasure.  Ticket to see the movie was also purchased by myself.


© 2013, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

16 comments:

  1. My son loved the book but I don't think it's for me.

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    1. Kathy - That's what my friend said, but I'm going to make her read it anyway. :-)

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  2. I haven't read the book. Even though it's not something I'd normally pick up I've been very curious about it. I keep hearing that it's different than a normal zombie book (Whatever that is, lol)

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    1. Jennifer - It's definitely not what you'd expect in a zombie book. I think it's worth reading if you get the chance!

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  3. So glad you participated with me! I also was drawn to the more personal stories and thought it was an insightful cut into what our world would be like if anything, even zombies, were to destroy it. And, as you know, it is not just about zombies!

    While I didn't love it, I liked it a lot and thought it was extremely unique and smartly written. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie this weekend!

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    1. Natalie - Thank you for hosting! Let me know what you think of the movie when you do see it!

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  4. For some reason Zombie lit just doesn't appeal to me at all--it's so unrealistic I think! (which is totally dumb considering some of the other unrealistic books I love). BUT I got this one on audio and I'm really looking forward to listening to it. I also listened to Warm Bodies earlier this year and really enjoyed it--though I think that one is probably a little more lighthearted than this one. Glad to hear you recommended this one. Maybe you can still convince your friend to read it? Sounds like a book that has a little bit of everything for everyone.

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    1. Trish - It normally doesn't to me either. I'll be curious to know what you think of the audiobook.

      I think I have convinced my friend to give it a try. We'll see . . .

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  5. I was riveted by World War Z--not because of the zombies, but because the book read like a nonfiction account of a global disaster. Loved the different accounts from so many different perspectives. Not sure how the movie will be able to capture this as there was no "main" character in the book, but look forward to it anyway.

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    1. Jenclair - Exactly! That's what I liked about the book too.

      The movie is very loosely based on the book. It was pure fun. I hope you like it when you see it!

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  6. I've not really thought of reading the book, but it's a shame the movie is so different (not using characters from the book!). That said the book sounds good and I wouldn't be against reading it, though I get where your friend is coming from.

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    1. Charlie - I think turning the book into a movie would be hard to do if they did do a direct translation, given the way the book is written. They probably wouldn't make nearly as much money as they will the way they decided to do it either.

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  7. I think Jason will be dragging me to see this on Saturday. I won't fight too hard ;)

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  8. I haven't read the book yet but I am excited to see the film!

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    1. Carrie - I hope you like it. It was a good summer blockbuster type film, I think.

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