The Walking Dead television show is really the only zombie-related story I’ve ever been exposed to. I really love that show (even if all the main characters annoy me), so I was pretty happy to receive World War Z as a birthday gift some months ago. I knew nothing about this book and I expected something similar to The Walking Dead; you know, a survival story during a time where zombies have taken over everything. And to some extent, of course World War Z is a survival story, but it is also very different. Where The Walking Dead is the survival story of a select group of (annoying, haha) people, World War Z is the survival story of the entire Earth, all of humanity. I loved it! It was different from what I expected, but I thoroughly enjoyed this different perspective of a zombie war. It had an epic and eerily realistic feel to it. Like, “Geez, if zombies (or any similar international problem) really did happen, the whole world could become so desperate.”
Basically, World War Z is a collection of interviews from various people all over the globe, gathered after the zombie war. There is a bit of an order to the interviews — you find out about the first zombie cases, how countries reacted (“The dead are coming back to life? Hahaha, you got to be kidding.”), how things escalated around the world, the wars that were fought, and finally, how humans started to slowly, piece by piece, put their lives back in order. It’s not your “standard novel”, it doesn’t really have any main characters and there isn’t a traditional plot.
One thing that has bugged me a bit about The Walking Dead (sorry, I keep bringing up the show, but like I said, it’s the only other zombie related story I know) was how I didn’t understand how the governments of the world simply disappeared. It never seemed plausible that a zombie outbreak could destroy all semblance of government to the point that it’s every man for himself. World War Z felt more realistic to me because all the governments were still in existence, though in varying degrees of success. The book can get very political and often times, I was bogged down with military jargon, but I really loved the explanations of how this government tried to quarantine themselves from the world, and that government tried to evacuate all its people, and yet another government screwed up big time and the entire country was pretty much doomed … stuff like that. This book takes the idea of a zombie war away from the individual level, and blows it up on the world stage.
That’s not to say there are no individual stories in this book; there are, and they are every bit as haunting as the more global stories. However, the overall impact of this book, at least what I got from it, was how the entire world as a group was going to tackle the problem. Some countries allied themselves with others, other countries tried to figure it out for themselves, etc. I really loved that whole international thing going on in this book.
Towards the end of the book, I did have a bit of trouble paying attention. There is no formal plot structure, so after about 300 pages, I was feeling a little tired of the military stuff the interviewees were talking about. The advantage of individual stories (and the reason, I suspect, many zombie stories remain on that level) is that it is easier to relate to. So after 300 pages, I was getting a tad tired of reading about military programs, tactics, campaigns, reports and the like. Still, I really, really enjoyed this book. I suspect that, because of its format and content, it will not be up to everyone’s tastes (I hesitate to stereotype, but I feel that many girls won’t enjoy it as much as guys would — though, I am a girl myself …). I do recommend it though, and I’m glad my friend introduced me to this.