Monday, August 9, 2010
What would happen if in the next 20 years a deadly new virus were to break out in central China, one that kills and then reanimates the corpse as a deathless evisceration machine unstoppable short of brain destruction. How would their government react, how would their people, what if it got out of their country?
Taken from the point of view of a UN sanctioned researcher investigating the cause and events of this frightening plague, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, takes us through a series of interviews with the people that were there on the front-lines fighting with ill-suited weapons, in the offices of power making the gruesome choices, and in the back rooms of the black market making a fast buck.
The book is an easy read, at only 300+ pages it engages in a conversational style and spans so many cultures and situations that you will never get bored. You will be turning every page, eager to learn a little more about the bigger picture and you won't be disappointed.
Overall I enjoyed the book, although in a lot of ways its strength is its weakness. The contagious element of the book keeps you reading it for extended periods and that's when the interview style wears thin. So many of the interviewees ended up spewing out litanies of events they witnessed in too similar a style that by 2/3rds through the book you wonder how half of it would be possible for one person to do, see, and remember so much in one conflict. From the soldier who seems to have personal knowledge of dozens of unique scenarios to the International Space Station astronaut that personally observed every major event in the war from space while simultaneously jerry-rigging satellites and space vehicles for unintended purposes it seems like everyone interviewed in the book had more things to say than they should.
Maybe it was just me, but it seemed like the author's research and brainstorming was writing this book. Aside from the dialogue, somehow only a dozen or so years after an event that devastated the majority of the human population and had untold impact on our elemental resources, infrastructure, and culture folks are running around with cutting edge science, technologies that are only ideas now and maybe 20-30 years of dedicated R&D away. I don't buy it and often the new tech references were so off-the-cuff and devoid of explanation that you are left simply saying to yourself, "Ok, whatever that is". In my opinion, it was unnecessary and jarring.
That all said, if you are a zombie fan, this is a fun and clever read and will really get you thinking. Clearly the author Max Brooks leveraged his research from The Zombie Survival Guide and if you enjoyed that book, check out how it all turned out in this one.
Posted by Tim Shirk at 4:10 PM