TBT Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

February 15, 2018 Based on the Book 4

TBT Review: World War Z by Max BrooksWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
Published by Crown on September 12th 2006
Genres: Apocalyptic, Horror, zombie
Pages: 352
One StarOne Star

It began with rumors from China about another pandemic. Then the cases started to multiply and what had looked like the stirrings of a criminal underclass, even the beginnings of a revolution, soon revealed itself to be much, much worse. Faced with a future of mindless, man-eating horror, humanity was forced to accept the logic of world government and face events that tested our sanity and our sense of reality.

Based on extensive interviews with survivors and key players in the 10-year fight-back against the horde, World War Z brings the very finest traditions of American journalism to bear on what is surely the most incredible story in the history of civilisation.

Max Brooks lives in New York City but is ready to move to a more remote and defensible location at a moment's notice. His Zombie Survival Guide was adopted as a required text by all of the world's basic military training programs during the recent global conflict.

Looking back:

Look at all this hype! There is so much about this book. I re-read my review and realized I came to the conclusion, back then, that the hype is what killed this book for me. After reading all of the information below, OF COURSE it did. I just couldn’t fall in love with the book after reading all of this. That said, I think I also had an idea about what the book was, and then came into something that was obviously different. Not the book’s fault. I just wasn’t ready for just interviews. If I remember correctly, because I read this a while ago, they steadily get more extreme as the interviewees are freaking out. That makes total sense. I’m really not sure why else I wouldn’t like this one!

The hype:

The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”

Note: Some of the numerical and factual material contained in this edition was previously published under the auspices of the United Nations Postwar Commission.

Eyewitness reports from the first truly global war:

“I found ‘Patient Zero’ behind the locked door of an abandoned apartment across town. . . . His wrists and feet were bound with plastic packing twine. Although he’d rubbed off the skin around his bonds, there was no blood. There was also no blood on his other wounds. . . . He was writhing like an animal; a gag muffled his growls. At first the villagers tried to hold me back. They warned me not to touch him, that he was ‘cursed.’ I shrugged them off and reached for my mask and gloves. The boy’s skin was . . . cold and gray . . . I could find neither his heartbeat nor his pulse.” —Dr. Kwang Jingshu, Greater Chongqing, United Federation of China


“‘Shock and Awe’? Perfect name. . . . But what if the enemy can’t be shocked and awed? Not just won’t, but biologically can’t! That’s what happened that day outside New York City, that’s the failure that almost lost us the whole damn war. The fact that we couldn’t shock and awe Zack boomeranged right back in our faces and actually allowed Zack to shock and awe us! They’re not afraid! No matter what we do, no matter how many we kill, they will never, ever be afraid!” —Todd Wainio, former U.S. Army infantryman and veteran of the Battle of Yonkers


“Two hundred million zombies. Who can even visualize that type of number, let alone combat it? . . . For the first time in history, we faced an enemy that was actively waging total war. They had no limits of endurance. They would never negotiate, never surrender. They would fight until the very end because, unlike us, every single one of them, every second of every day, was devoted to consuming all life on Earth.” —General Travis D’Ambrosia, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe


Maybe my expectations with this book were too high. I’m not sure but I really didn’t like this one. I was so excited to get into it and the first couple of chapters were interesting, but soon I was drowning in politics, in espionage, and government blasiblah. I got bored really fast and told myself to just keep on reading! Be a Dory, just keep reading, just keep reading.

And read I did. But only every once in a while was I surprised or interested in a chapter. There was one chapter where a woman landed in the woods after her plane crashed and she only had the help of a fellow soldier on a handheld radio to help guide her. That chapter was one that I was really cringing at. She was so tough, so involved, and her life was always in danger. It made me want to read more about her! But after her chapter is finished, that’s it… nothing else about her comes up.

That’s how it is with this book which at first I thought was genius. But I wish there was some kind of common thread, something to help me feel more for the characters, other than just zombies.

I can say, sadly, that this was just not my cup of tea. I knew as soon as I started reading about all the government added in politics stuff that I was going to lose interest. And I did.

The Movie:

The movie starts off pretty much in the action. I think there was maybe five minutes of downtime to get to know the family and then BAM! Into the mix you go.

There are many differences in the movie from the book… first off you have a man that has been in the military before and you are going to follow him while he tries to understand what is going on and how to fix it, and ultimately save the world. In the book, we do have the interviewer but not his story. We really don’t get to feel anything for him. I could have cared less if he lived or died, sadly.

Secondly, the timing for the zombie changes. In the movie it was around 12 seconds, in the book it could take days. I completely understand why they did it this way and honestly, it was MUCH more dramatic. It does make more sense of how people can get onto a plane in the book, whereas in the movie they never really explain if someone is bit and doesn’t change in that 12 seconds…

Honestly, for a action packed horror, I thought the movie was great. There were threads from the book, scientists and a few people that I remembered which I thought was fabulous, but there were SO MANY people in the book that they may have only added one or two stories or a hundred and I would never have noticed. I think the movie took me through and made me want the main characters to live. I started feeling for them early on, and I felt like even though it’s not like the book, that’s what I enjoyed most about it!

So, all in all, the movie gets a 4 but the book gets a 2. I’ll buy the movie and rewatch for the intensity on my zombie marathon days!

One StarOne Star

4 Responses to “TBT Review: World War Z by Max Brooks”

  1. Barb (boxermommyreads)

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I never read this book and really have no desire. I’ve read enough reviews to know I would quickly lose interest. I did see the movie and I thought it was great. I mean, no one was going to win any real awards but for an action-packed horror movie, I was pleased. That’s saying a lot too because I’m not a fan of Brad Pitt.

    They are supposedly making a sequel and also a video game, which my husband is hyped up about. I’m curious about both so I hope the rumors are true.

    • Christina

      I need to look into that! I would definitely love to see the sequel. I was so sad when everyone said they didn’t like the movie, but if you like the book – you don’t like the movie, and vice versa. They just don’t connect. Have you ever read Mira Grant’s Feed series? I should re-read that one. So, so good!

  2. chucklesthescot

    I really didn’t like the book and I DNFed it quite early. I do intend to watch the film-it was filmed in part just outside where I used to work which will make it weird to watch!

    • Christina

      I nearly DNFed also, but I was thinking of all the hype and hoping it would get better. It never does! I wish I wouldn’t have wasted my time. Random thought… The movie Periscope Down was filmed where I worked when I was in the military, and I just love seeing that. I kind of give a little wave each time we watch it!

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