Max Brook’s "World War Z" has received a lot of attention and praise since it was first published a few years ago. Inspired by his work on "The Zombie Survival Guide," "Z" puts the lessons there to work in this fictional universe with interesting and varied results.
The story is told from the recollections of various people involved at different stages of the zombie apocalypse and its fallout. Brooks does an admirable job of making each voice just different enough from the last and finding unique perspectives for each of his narrators in the story. However, this does mean you can and will get frustrated when certain events are referred to and either not delved into until much later in the book or are left to the reader’s imagination to fill in the details or pull various pieces together.
Make no mistake–this book will require you to pay attention to details if you want to get the full picture of what went on.
It’s nice to see a current novel that assumes the reader can follow threads and is smart enough to put two and two together and not get five.
And while all that is nicely done, it’s in the later stages the the novel really begins to let down. Brooks doesn’t shy away from using the zombies as a metaphor to offer up political and social commentary on the United States and the world as a whole. It’s fairly overt but not enough feel like Brooks is ranting and raving and saying you must agree with him in order to enjoy the book. However, there are some sections that become a bit too mired in the dogma of the particular character speaking and the story loses some of its momentum.
The book also loses some momentum in its final chapter, which is a bit of a wrap-up or bringing back various voices from earlier in the story for a bit of a farewell. While I can understand the attempt to offer at least some feeling of closure to the story (difficult to do given the way the accounts are presented), it ends up feeling less like a solid ending and more like a failed attempt to wrap it all up neatly. And in the case of "Z" a neat package ending isn’t necessarily what the book wants or needs.