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I confess: I’m not much of a zombie fan. And it should be noted upfront that the Z in World War Z most definitely stands for zombies. What sets Brooks’ book apart from the standard zombie tale, though, is the telling. Instead of a traditional narrative, Brooks tells the story of the zombie uprising, and subsequent war, as through he is a journalist living after the threat has been largely eliminated and the world slowly returning to “peacetime” existence (albeit short a few billion people).
Through interviews with survivors, most of whom were instrumental in military or political operations during the war, Brooks (the character) lets the story progress with the type of specific details that are so often missing from fiction. We get not only the battle of Yonkers, but the feel for how a soldier reacts to an unexpected enemy – including how the gear they wear is both ineffective and prohibitive. We get not only the story of a solider stranded in zombie territory, but how her training prepared her for the experience. These well-considered details help increase the realism of the world Brooks creates.
It helps, too, that he attempts to portray political fallout from the zombies in a way that is both surprising and interesting. In fact, much of the pleasure of reading this novel is from seeing just where Brooks – who “researched” the topic by speaking with a number of actual law-enforcement and military people – finds details that reveal his level of thought about how the world and how individuals would truly react to such a situation.
Without a doubt, this is not the type of book that will appeal to everyone. But if you have any interest in science-fiction, zombies, or fictional military strategy, this will definitely have appeal.