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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 3 October 2016
I didn't know what to expect (other than zombies, of course) when I picked up this book on a recent tidal wave of post-apocalyptic reading. What I didn't expect was a book of such depth, intelligence and emotion that I would enjoy every second of reading. The unusual narrative is woven together through the personal accounts of many different survivors of a zombie worldwide outbreak from all corners of the globe. Each individual story, be it one page or ten, provides a unique, gripping account of their small part in the epic drama that unfolds from the first witnesses of the zombie "virus" to the final days of World War Z. But more than this, the book provides an in-depth social commentary on survivalism, how people's relationships with each other are changed under pressure and in emergency, and how they pull together or pull apart under horrific circumstances; a political commentary on both globalism and isolationism and how different nations may react differently to danger; and a psychological view of how humanity copes with war, disease, guilt, hope, loss and death. The book is tense but not scary, thought-provoking but not laboured and familiar but not cliche.

I ended the book feeling an immense amount of gratitude for the amount of work and time the author clearly put in to this surprising gem of fiction. It is rare to find someone explore a plot so thoroughly and so thoughtfully, and this book will definitely sit pride of place on my bookshelf.
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on 26 September 2016
Ok, an all out war against the undead, how do we document that? I know let's send someone around the world to talk with all the survivors of this near Zombie apocalypse.
This is basically how this book runs, it took me a little while to get into as it doesn't run like your usual story with a beginning, middle and an end. This is one person's short account of what they experienced during the war, then the next person's and so forth. Some of the situations are well thought out and do highlight some interesting revelations about what people fighting an army of Zombies may have to endure. Don't expect one big climax at the end because that's not the way World War Z works, it's full of little crescendos throughout, which does make it an interesting read and "yes, I did enjoy it", if your into the living coming back for revenge once they've breathed their last and you fancy something a bit different I don't think you will be disappointed.
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on 6 February 2015
Delivery and Packaging: Delivery speed was exceptionally fast arriving well before estimated delivery date. Packaging was suitable and very good for the type of product.

The product itself; As someone who is not a particular fan of the zombie genre itself. I have to say I really enjoyed the narraitve style and writing of this book. The interview/documentary/report style really offers a unique perspective of many different peoples and cultures and thier experiences. It chronicles from patient zero to the aftermath of the breakout of the zombie war. This is a great book whether you are realitvely new to the zombie genre or a veteran reader of zombie novels I would say this book definitely has something to offer/appeal to all readers. Having also listened to the audiobook adaptation as well as having read the book I would say this is great across various media's depending on your preference. In the case of some narrative tales in this book I would say that Audiobook is actually a better way to enjoy this book as it captures the emotions and experiences of the characters a lot better than if one was simply reading the book.

Now for those of you who are curious as to how this book compares to the film adaptation. I would say if you enjoyed the film you wouldnt necessarily enjoy the book as the film is World War Z in title only. The zombies in the book are a lot more the traditional concept or public perception of zombies. I.e slow moving and the way it transmits the zombie pathogen is a lot more terrifying as it can go unnoticed easily until you hit the later stages so again it's interesting to read about that in the books. In the film adaptation, the report/documentary style is completely absent and the zombies are more that of 28 days later. I go into some detail about the differences merely to convey that the book is vastly different from the film and in terms of enjoyment of this particular title this information can make all the difference in your decision to buy this book.

Would I recommend this book? Definitely I think this book is a great addition to any book collection as the narrative style etc is excellent and I think this book has something to appeal to readers of all types be it your new to the horror genre or already a fan. Eitherway this book is a most certainly a must read.
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on 30 July 2014
It takes a while to get into, but when you get there you'll spend the rest of the book breathless and stunned. It's a totally new kind of novel - no key characters, no plot as such, no narrative three-act structure. The entire book is a series of fictitious "eyewitness accounts" from people affected in some way by the zombie apocalypse. And somehow, as you read each account - in its author's voice and with their hopes and dreams - you enter the storyworld, as engrossing as any thriller.

It works because so many of the tales ring true. When I mentioned to a friend her cooking skills would in great demand after the zombie war, she exploded with protests about her professional background and job. Right at that point in the text, an organiser was talking about how difficult it was to convince a man who used to "get hold of the rights to classic rock songs for commercials" that his skills weren't just inappropriate, they were obsolete - the post-apocalypse world needs carpenters and builders and manual trades, not marketers...

The way the eyewitness interviews develop over time, spanning countries and viewpoints, come together as a single, coherent picture of just what happened, how we solved it, how difficult it was. This book is truly something different. And that's not common in today's lit. A fantastic read.
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on 21 September 2013
Having seen the film version relatively recently, I thought it appropriate to review what is one of my favourite books and point out that, in short, the printed version is vastly superior and immeasurably different from the screen adaptation, which bears little resemblance to the book other than in name.

For those of you who aren't aware, WWZ is set ten years after a zombie apocalypse has all but destroyed humanity on the planet. The novel takes the form of personal accounts of survivors from all over the world and their own recollection of events, given to a United Nations agent. I really don't want to give too much away so will leave it at that!
Max Brooks, the author of WWZ, is undoubtedly a massive fan of the zombie genre and in particular, the movies of Romero. Much like Romero's zombie flicks, WWZ is on the face of it, a great tale of the walking dead. Brooks apes Romero in that throughout the novel, there is the ever present not so thinly veiled social commentary and attacks upon present day governmental policies from around the world.

For me, one of the best parts of the novel was the variety in characters and their development. A serious problem I have with horror movies is the generic choice of lead characters; usually being a group of attractive young Americans who get picked off one by one in fairly predictable fashion. In WWZ, we have the stories of soldiers, former terrorists, politicians, film directors and civilians and how they dealt with the zombie war and aftermath.

Prior to writing WWZ, Brooks authored `The Zombie Survival Guide'. I am relieved to say that I had NOT read TZSG before reading WWZ. As fun as TZSG is, to my mind it is a companion book and its sections are capable of being dipped in and out of with little regard to flow and is very much more of a manual for survival than a novel!
Conversely,WWZ, in short, is fantastic. Brooks has obviously spent an awful lot of time thinking about zombies and all those "what if" scenarios but on a far grander scale than many fans of the genre could possibly imagine. His writing style is straightforward; character development well thought out and the book as a whole lends itself well to screen adaptation. It is of no surprise that there was a bidding war over the screen rights to this novel.

Simon Pegg, star of `Shaun of the Dead', described WWZ as "An absolute must have" and I would submit to you that he is spot on. I had hoped that Brad Pitt would do the movie version of this tremendous book justice but it was not to be.

My recommendation would be to avoid the film and instead, make sure you crack the spine on this book and spend some time immersing yourself in Brooks' vision of earth following a zombie outbreak!
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on 13 April 2013
World War Z is a highly original take on the zombie novel as it tells its story through a series of interviews with a variety of people who tell their stories of what happened both before, during, and after the zombie outbreak. There is a large range of characters, from military personnel to a blind Japanese gardener.

The advantage of this book is that it allows this somewhat cliched story of the zombie apocalypse to be told with a lot more depth and detail. Telling the story from the perspective of one or a few main characters (as most do) inherently restricts the scope of stories like this because you can never get a full picture. That isn't usually a bad thing, but World War Z really stands out because it deals with the zombie outbreak on a global scale from its origins right through to how the world looks far into the future. Contrasting the approaches and events in different countries really adds a richness to the story that makes it inherently interesting to read.

This approach also allows Brooks to build in key events that you wouldn't normally expect from a book of this nature. These include things like main battles between the armed forces and the zombies, as well as discussion of controversial political and military strategies designed to deal with the outbreak. It is, as advertised, very much a 'history' of the zombie apocalypse almost more than it is an actual coherent story, which allows a level of detail to the book generally which is far beyond anything I have ever read in this genre up to now.

Unfortunately, I found that such an approach also brings with it a fair number of negatives. Specifically, all of the interviewees seem to have the same voice, which means that I couldn't really distinguish individual characters per se; I could only really distinguish individual stories. This is a double edged sword in the context of the book, because whilst it allows an interesting level of detail, it destroys any chance of the reader becoming attached to any of these characters.

Equally, because the 'story' just jumps from person to person, and indeed from country to country, for the duration of the book, there is virtually no tension or similar that one would normally expect from a book of this nature. It may be that there was never going to be due to the nature of the book, but irrespective I found it difficulty to be truly immersed in World War Z precisely because there was no constructed plot, developed characters, or overarching sense of tension. Even if those elements are deliberately excluded, it doesn't avoid the fact that it makes the book less accessible as a result.

Ultimately, World War Z reads like a documentary on to the history of the zombie apocalypse. This brings with it the advantage of it going into a huge amount of detail on a global scale, which certainly on a base level made me more interested in this post apocalyptic world than I usually am in books of this nature. But at the same time such an approach makes it difficult to truly engage with the book and become immersed in it, and as such it loses many of the true staple elements that one would expect from a zombie novel.

Do I recommend it? Yes, for its originality if nothing else. But those reading it expecting a new standard in the zombie novel may need to temper those expectations somewhat.
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on 15 June 2013
This is the first time I read a book that's been turned into a movie (classics aside). And I did it on purpose. The movie is not in theatres yet but I saw some trailers and found them rather silly. So I thought: what is the book like? The answer is simple: GREAT!
The book's narrative is constructed of short interviews or stories narrated by survivors of the war. They were conducted for a report for an international community. Since the report is void of emotions and concentrates on facts and figures, author publishes them as a book for all to read. This is an ingenious way of telling a story: it has credibility of first hand accounts and enough emotions to make it personal. Each story is short, proceeded by a brief info about where it was recorded and what is the situation of the survivor who tells it. Ingenious. What is more important, it is not a story of a one man or group of people. It is a story of all humanity told by its members from various paths of life, countries, of different religions and beliefs. This makes it credible, well balanced and extremely readable.
Some bits are not for the faint hatred, some are tat boring, just like in real life. One thing that I'm certain of, although I saw only trailers and not the whole movie, that wave of zombies, that tide of bodies that you can see in the movie engulfing everything on their way... Somebody should have had explained to the director what a metaphor is. Or to the scriptwriter. Man, that thing just does not exist in book. On the contrary, it is even scarier, more overwhelming in its slow but unstoppable progress...
From the beginning, since the book is written after the war, we know that it ends in a good kind of way, well humanity survives, just... So as a reader you can relax and enjoy studying the story, origins, developments etc. it's a good book for anyone who likes biographies, non-fiction and real-life stories. Even if it is sci-fi.
And by the way... I will go to see the movie. Just to see what else they changed. Although I don't hold high hopes...
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Many of the reviews of the book here are by readers expert in the ways of the Zombie Apocalypse. I approached the book as a novice on that topic but as someone interested in the constructions of counter-factuals (often called alt.hist)- histories of the road not traveled. Brooks has clearly absorbed a lot of influences to present what I found a rather good "history". The basic armature is current Government responses to dangerous diseases, and Ebola seems nearly as alien as the zombies. On to this he has grafted some very interesting concepts of how current hi-tech weapons might or might not work against the infected, especially an enemy incapable of fear. Then we have the response of Governments to both the threat and the collapse of the highly specialised just-in-time economy (the New Deal model being applied here). One of the weaknesses of alt.hist is that it has to be believable to an audience with many different views of what is probable, but one of its strengths is it gets people engaged in debate about that credibility.

I thought this a fine piece of counter-factual work, well up with Sinclair Lewis's IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE (better known to many of us in its SF version "V"). I hope other counter-factual novels will make it through the gap Max Brooks has opened.
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on 1 January 2016
This book actually gave me nightmares, something which hasn't happened in the past.

The narrative is divided up into a number of interviews from survivors of the war. It is impressive how these manage to seem so individual and get across their different experiences, scars and losses. In terms of descriptive content, the ways the world succumbs to the zombie-apocalypse is disturbing. Reminded me a bit of how King described the illness which swept the world in The Stand, albeit with less colour and epic-ness.

I'd thoroughly recommend this book to anyone looking at a solid post-apocalyptic storyline which doesn't fall short.
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VINE VOICEon 28 April 2013
I have to be brutally honest and say I didn't enjoy this book at all. I love zombie fiction, it's my favourite sub-genre of the Horror area. This book left me cold and feeling like I was not involved in it at all, I just didn't like the concept and how the book was written and set out.

Unlike most other Zombie books, this one did not seem to focus on characters, it mainly concerns itself in portraying a global war against zombies and how this effects each area of our planet from Europe to Asia, South America to North America and lots of countries in between. I guess therein lays the fault and is the reason it left me cold. You feel like you are in a travelogue and watching a 24 hour news channel like CNN or Sky News rather than reading a book about people. Too much politics, countries harbouring grudges against each other and submarines and weapons for my liking. I can switch on my TV and watch the BBC news to get plenty of this, I don't want to sit down and read about it. It distinctly lacked a human element, a feeling that you can empathise with a character and follow them. The only redeeming part of the book that I can say was good was a section featuring a man hiding out in his apartment in a large Japanese city and how he escaped the zombies by dropping down the high rise block by using sheets tied to the various balconies, I thought to myself, right it's getting better and then that part ended and we were back to hum drum....

I am very disappointed and I am surprised at how many readers have raved about this book. Sorry it's not for me. As a little postscript, I sincerely hope Hollywood have made the film due out this summer a bit more interesting than the book!
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