World War Z by Max Brooks
I have recently finished this book and had about a week to ponder upon it. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by this book – unlike other zombie books that I have read (not that many, but a few) I enjoyed it not just for the pleasure of being a little creeped out and gasping at the gore, but also for the sheer pleasure of reading a book that approached an idea in a different way. That’s not to say that it wasn’t a little bit gory and not a tiny bit creepy, it was these things but also so much more.
The book is subtitled ‘An Oral History of the Zombie War’ and it remains a journalistic endeavour throughout. I really enjoyed the interview style structure of the novel, each small chapter lending a new voice to the story. The books real strength was in the compassion that you feel for these people from the go, drawing you into a snapshot of their lives, and feeling their emotions as they recollect the personal stories that they have to tell.
The book opens very well, straight into the outbreak and doesn’t hold any punches, however, it is compelling, drawing you into this new world with subtle hints of what the future holds. I felt that I was reading genuine recollections, with the interviewer prompting every now and then for further information. I am the kind of reader that is easily drawn into a story, even a fantastical one of this nature – I think this really helped as I was quick to suspend my beliefs and live through a zombie apocalypse (not a phrase I use every day!). Some characters do reappear through the book but no two people are interviewed twice, I did think that the interviewer would revisit some interviewees as the chronology continued, but in the end this was no bad thing.
I think that being a fan of the genre helped me enjoy this book, but I would recommend it to those that are not ‘horror’ fans. This is not horror in the conventional sense; it’s not trying to be Stephen King, James Herbert or even something like Shaun Hutson. It is a newer breed of these types of books, they do have those elements of horror that will please the fans, but they also twist the genre in a new way that is often very much needed. Very much like ‘Let the Right One In’ it does things differently; it’s not like ‘Let the Right One In’, in fact it’s not like anything that comes to mind straight away, but it is different in the best way possible. I would say to any reader out there that if they want something a little different, something intelligent, and also something that is driven with a great pace, then give this book a go – you never know you might like it too.