Friday, January 14, 2011

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, by Max Brooks


This. Book. Is. Awesome. Ostensibly about zombies, it ends up being more about human response to crisis--on an individual, national, and international level. Information management, bureaucracy, self-preservation, sacrifice, technology, adaptability, fear, denial, cooperation, independence, lack of preparation, conservation of resources, the value of human life . . . it's all in there.

By presenting the story in a collection of first person recollections, Brooks takes the reader to the ground level. There is no clear over-arching story, no all-seeing narrator. Each person knows only what he himself can see, and all he can see is the particular brand of chaos and destruction that surrounds him. By immersing the reader in the story without the comfort of a storyteller, Brooks makes the fear that much more palpable, and imparts to the reader the rising sense of panic felt by the characters themselves as they begin to comprehend their circumstances. It's good to be reminded that society is never so secure that it can't be toppled by disaster. And what then?

I feel kind of bad giving five stars to a book about zombies, but there you have it.

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