Zombies are among us; one need look no further than the Fox News network for proof of that, and it’s only a matter of time before those nefarious necrotic beasties take their act nation wide. With his quasi-satirical ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE, Max Brooks prepared us for potential zombie warfare in the guise of a lovingly and meticulously crafted survival manual that read much like those hilariously misguided Boy Scout handbooks they gave out back when I was a kid (and probably hadn’t updated since the late 1950’s). While Brook’s book ended up in most store's humor sections, its author wasn’t entirely kidding, and, as his comparatively stone-faced follow-up WORLD WAR Z proves, to Max Brooks zombies are not a laughing matter.
Set in the not too distant future, World War Z is a chronicle of the “great panic”; an all-out zombie war that claimed a sizeable chunk of the Earth’s population. The book is broken up into interviews with various "witnesses", ranging from a Canadian Special Forces soldier to an impoverished South African, who each offer their perspective on the undead plague, their particular exposure to it, and how they survived. Brooks gives each character a unique voice, lending the “documents” a sense of authenticity that makes this “Oral History of the Zombie War” read like the sort of report it’s modeled after (the 911 Commission springs to mind). That’s not to say that the book is boring; not by a long shot. Brooks’ post-apocalyptic world is as dark and intriguing as the people who populate it, and, as an obvious devotee to the genre, the author serves up heaping portions of the requisite gore one would expect from such a tale.
World War Z is a bold experiment in horror literature, combining sociopolitical satire with a well-trodden genre theme that serves as a thinly veiled representation of any number of pandemic possibilities. This is a book that will entertain, for certain, but also disturbs on many levels, and, despite the occasional laugh, I seriously doubt Brooks will have to worry about this one getting lost in the humor section.