World War Z. A Post Modern History of the Zombie Invasion

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Zombies are fun. Recently, there have been a lot of good material where zombies have re-entered our lives. They are so delightfully cliche that no matter where you see them, there is a familiarity that is enjoyable. Between Walking Dead and Left 4 Dead, that’s a lot of different mediums with Zombies. You would think that a “history” book, without all its fancy pictures and graphics would be left out of the zombie fun, but we see that books can still be enjoyable.

World War Z is an oral history of the Zombie invasion. Written by the same author as the one who wrote The Zombie Survival Guide, this book is based on the premise that a Zombie Invasion had happened, and in the aftermath, someone interviewed various survivors of the event and recorded their stories. It is a great concept and he gives his characters their own unique personalities. While I was reading though, I always had the author in the back of my mind.

There were some interesting ideas. In a typical zombie story, it has a a small group of characters of predefined roles (the girl, the badass, the asshole, the helpless) who need to go from point A to point B for rescue. Often times, new characters are introduced and then the characters play their roles for surviving the zombie situation. In classic zombie fiction, characters need to be developed and the reader needs to identify with them (or their roles) so that when they are killed off, the reader has a sense of loss.

In World War Z, most of the characterbuilding needs aren’t really necessary because we know that the person being interviewed has survived. We are only hearing the zombie from one perspective, but the advantage is that we can hear the perspective from a great many characters. From leaders of nations or an teenager from wisconsin, we get a snippet of differing points of views. This is in contrast of a typical zombie story where we look mostly through the eyes of the primary players, not the through the eyes of villains or profiteer-er or leaders of different governments.

I think it does an adequate job of showing how governments would react to a zombie invasion. It’s pretty cool, but one thing that I felt was that the situations are extremely stereotypical of their respective governments. For example, the way that the Germans fights zombies is influenced by World War 2 Nazi atrocities, while the Chinese are secretive, and the Russians are brutal to their own to improve moral. It’s cool to have cliche zombies, but to have cliche foreigners? It’s not very interesting and I would have preferred to have unique ideas of what different governments would do. Of course, then it may not be believable, but a zombie invasion is already stretching the truth.

All in all, I enjoyed the read. I would recommend it to anyone who is a zombie enthusiast. And then when you run for political office, you will be more than prepared to set forth the proper policies to prevent zombies overrunning humanity.