Word War Z by Max Brooks

This week we read World War Z by Max Brooks, and I enjoyed it. Now I have seen the movie, and I thought the movie was okay. It was interesting, but of course, it had the Hollywood flare. The book, on the other hand, was set up as a series of interviews and was much more interesting to me.
I switched between the audio and the actual novel just due to limited time to sit and read. I have to say listening to this on audio, was for lack of a better word, awesome and I highly recommend “reading” it this way. It reminded me, in a way, of Interview with the Vampire, where one person was asking all the questions and recording the responses. With the audio, you got a feel for each of the other characters being interviewed. It wasn’t just one person reading the story and changing their voice. Each character questioned had their distinct sound.
I loved the uniqueness of each character as the voice actors read their lines. They did more than just read it but brought life to these words and you were able to get a sense of how these people felt reliving the nightmare they went through. It made me feel like I was in an old war movie where the main character had experienced so much horror that reliving those memories re-opened old wounds.
Now I liked how the novel was set up. The book had a flow that was easy to get swept up in. There was a natural back and forth between the characters that sometimes you don’t see much in a story written like an interview. The characters seemed to almost dance as they spoke to each other. While listening to the story, I found myself able to see what they saw all those years ago for them. I felt like I was there.
One group of accounts that made me feel like I was in the thick of it with them was the military personnel who were in the hot zones. I don’t know if it is because of my military background in weapons. I was taught to line up my sights and aim for the center of mass because I did security detail. Our reactions to situations were more rushed, not the way the soldiers talked in the book and it made me wonder how they would have instructed us if something like this happened. Our goal was always to respond quickly and secure the area. When the guy started to talk about how they were taught to take their time killing each zombie because those things weren’t in any hurry. He described in vivid detail how he lined up his sights and nailed them right between the eyes. You could tell from the way he spoke that this excited him and frightened him.
Even though the book was a collection of eyewitness accounts, it still gave the feel of a story to me. Each person was strategically placed in an order that leads you from the beginning to the middle to the very end of the story. I felt as though there was more to the story than what had been told and I wanted to read more of it.
Overall, whether you read the novel or listen to the audio, I think you will enjoy this story more than the movie. The details these characters give is so much better than anything they did in the movie.

4 thoughts on “Word War Z by Max Brooks

  1. Hey Louise,

    I haven’t got to listen to the audio version of this yet, but if it’s got the right cast, I bet it’s incredible. Throughout reading this I thought it was good, but I couldn’t shake the impression that it would have worked better as a radio drama or mockumentary. I haven’t seen the movie, but I’m sure it pales in comparison when compared to the book. The impression I got from the trailers is that it’s a much more personal story rather than the collective narrative structure of the original.

    I’ve never been in the military, but the military characters were the most immersive scenes for me too. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s because those tended to be the chapters where the most action was happening. Although the otaku turned warrior also stood out for me…maybe for personal reasons.

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    • I think the military scenes are so immersive because they are also the most traumatic thing to experience to me. I know for me that I can still remember every detail of what I did on the ship the day of 9-11. I know what I was wearing what I did before hey secured phone lines. I can still remember how much my body hurt from standing such a long watch carrying my M16 around.

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  2. I also listened to part of the book on audiobook. I thought the voice actors did a great job, but I just didn’t get enough details about the characters to see them as actual people. I also found the syntax and diction questionably similar for characters who were supposed to be from around the world. However, I really appreciated your perspective on the military scenes, and I definitely want to reread them with what you said in mind.

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  3. It’s funny that you were the most engaged in the interviews from the military zones, because I was actually sort of bored during those sections. I found the “daily life” stories like the mom trying to help her two kids escape while their dad was being attacked, the most interesting. But I guess a strength of the book is that it offered something for readers with different interests.

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