Monday, 9 June 2014

Devouring Books: World War Z by Max Brooks

"Most people don't believe something can happen until it already has."

This post marks the start of what will unofficially be known as Accidentally Alley's Week. That is to say- I'll be reviewing two books that I preeeetty much only read because of her enthusiasm for them, and which I happened to read kind of near to each other, only not really because I TOTALLY FORGOT I hadn't reviewed World War Z yet and the draft for this post has been sitting sadly backstage on the blog for ages now. Poor little post.

So, World War Z is amazing. I've said for a long time that I don't really care for zombies, but I keep on reading zombie books and I keep on liking them, so who can say how true that really is? It's probably not true at all, but it wouldn't matter anyway because World War Z isn't reaaaaally about zombies.
Obviously zombies are involved. They are indeed the Z of the title, but it's the subtitle that's the really interesting part- An Oral History of the Zombie War. An oral history it is indeed (Alley seems to listen to the audiobook about once a month, and now I know why- I can already tell that the audiobook would be SO GOOD) and that's what makes it so special, and so excellent.

Here's why I think the multiple (and I mean multiple. Like, basically every account is from a different person) perspectives thing works so well. Brooks has clearly thought A LOT about every aspect of what a zombie invasion would involve, which means that the book covers government reactions, and attitudes beforehand, how the lives of ordinary people were affected, the global reaction, the battles... basically every area of what you talk about when you talk about any war is covered, and it's covered with detail and realism and it's so so so interesting and good and completely makes you forget that this didn't actually happen because IT FEELS LIKE IT DID.*

I think we all know that this is going to end with me going READ IT (and honestly, if you read the first account then I don't know how you're going to be able to stop, because it's so creepy and perfect and YES) so instead of gushing too much about it, I'm just going to talk about a couple of my favourite sections in a bit of detail. This will involve spoilers only in as much as I'm going to talk about stuff that happens in the book, because I'm not really sure it's one you can spoil. Unless you didn't know that zombies were involved, in which case, whoops!

SO. One of my favourite parts was set in Japan, where a teenager who pretty much lived on the internet had to learn how to live in the real world where actual bad things were happening and everyone was dying. I liked this a lot because it made me think about the way we live, all connected to the internet but not even necessarily connected to the people around us (it took this guy days to realise his parents are dead) and how, even though this was an extreme example, we could all take more time to look away from the screen and go 'Shit. Things are happening. I should probably do stuff.' The personal development of this character is excellent and I liked the part he had to play and also did I mention it was in Japan? So, yeah.

My other favourite part was the bit with the guy who marketed a 'vaccine' for 'African rabies' that he duped innocent/ignorant people into buying, believing it would make them safe, and that it wasn't something they were going to have to think about. To be clear, I think this guy is an abhorrent piece of shit, but I really appreciated this part because THIS IS TOTALLY WHAT WOULD HAPPEN. EVERY time there's a pandemic style scare (avian flu, and the like) the government makes a big show on how it's stocking up on vaccines, only, if this is a new strain of virus that's especially deadly, I don't think it's quite that easy to have a vaccine ready. Still, we all relax, don't think about it, and one day that could easily be our downfall. Only, hopefully not in a World War Z way, because JESUS CHRIST that would be scary.

Seriously. This book is amazing. Brooks has thought about everything, has made his vision of a zombie war so very realistic and well thought out that you end the book thinking 'so... Maybe this could happen.' Which is terrifying, but also INCREDIBLE. I can't overstate how much I purely enjoyed reading it, and I also can't overstate how impressed by it I remain. It's just some damn good book, guys. If Alley hasn't made you read it already, you've got to read it. I will not rest until you do.



*I only know it didn't because I'm still alive. I would totally be zombied up first.

16 comments:

  1. My husband loved this book too. I need to read it!

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    1. You so so so so do! It was so much more awesome than I was expecting it to be!

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  2. Yay!!!

    I want to listen to the audio book version of this too! Although they got Masi Oka (Hiro from Heroes) to do one of the Japanese voices, which I'm a bit unsure about because his Japanese sounds a bit odd (he is Japanese, but I think was brought up in America, so has never really spent long enough in Japan to sound natural - although his Japanese is a million times better than his friend Ando in Heroes, who is played by a Korean actor who has a really thick Korean accent when he speaks Japanese. Which would be fine, if he weren't actually supposed to be Japanese!).. as long as he doesn't actually speak any Japanese it'll be fine I guess! I also expect that I am in an extremely small minority that would be bothered by that.

    I really enjoyed the bit that you talked about too with the Japanese guy who is basically a shut in - that's actually a pretty common phenomenon here, and it definitely seems pretty realistic! I did have issues with the bits after that about Japan though. The more you know about something, the more mentions of it in books written by people who don't know as much as you annoy you, it seems!

    But yeah, I agree with you!! Reading this has kind of made me want to read it again, hehe. Maybe I will get the audio book.... hmm!

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    1. I would imagine that Oka doesn't speak any Japanese, because that would not be so useful for the English audiobook haha! I just love the idea of actually hearing each of the narratives in different voices, because I did it a bit in my head but this would be like a million times better.

      I was sooo into the shut in thing. Because even though that was extreme, I feel like we all probably use the internet more than we maybe should (she says, writing a comment on her own blog!) and we'd be too busy, like, instagramming photos of zombies to actually protect ourselves. So yeah, I just thought that was really interesting.

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  3. Yayyy you read it and YAYYY you like it! I find zombie novels pretty hit and miss, mostly because they tend to go the super serious route while the best zombie films have a healthy mix of nihilism and humour, but I think Brooks managed to make it work really, really well. And definitely get the audiobook, just make sure it's the unabridged celebrity cast. The other one isn't bad either, but c'mon who doesn't want to listen to Mel Brooks and Sean Pegged over a random audiobook reader?

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    1. It's just so so so good! I don't want to be a knob and go 'it's just really impressive' but as well as enjoying the crap out of it, I was genuinely really impressed! SUCH a good call to get a worldwide, ranging, amazing view of everything, everywhere, I LOVE IT.

      If I do get the audiobook, it will of course be the celebrity one. How could I not?!

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  4. ACCIDENTALLY ALLEY WEEK! Let's make this an official holiday

    I'm so glad you liked this cos maaaaaaaaaaaaan is this a good book. You need to listen to the audio book next. I would totally be zombied up right away.

    The guy with the vaccine is my fav part. Def top 5 anyway, but on the audiobook with Scorsese reading it, def fav.

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    1. It's sooooo a thing now. You're going to be expecting it annually now, aren't you?

      ...Shit.

      IT IS SO GOOD YOU HAVE VERY GOOD TASTE! I need the audiobook, definitely, but I am too poor to buy them sooooo maybe later. Like, way later. The vaccine part though! SO good. Ugh, I love it.

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  5. At some point I need to re-read this. I loved it when I read it but have forgotten some of the stories by now. Not the two that you mentioned though. I remember those. The most haunting stories for me were that one with the adult woman who is still mentally stuck at the age she escaped from the zombies, and then the account about the Australians (I think?) who were responsible for picking up global communication signals to gather information and most of those who listened to the broadcast pleas for help ended up committing suicide during or after the war was over.

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    1. Oh maaaan, the suicides. That was a really upsetting story. I'm also kind of haunted by the people who pretended to be zombies, and pretended so hard that they basically did become them, apart from having a heartbeat and whatnot. I kind of get that there are people in the world who would do that. Creepy.

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  6. "and completely makes you forget that this didn't actually happen because IT FEELS LIKE IT DID."

    TRUTH. That book is the best. Just so, so good.

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    1. I LOVE IT SO MUCH I WANT TO READ IT AGAINNNNNN.

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  7. For real, how have I not read this yet? But now that I have an Audible membership, I'm thinking it's going to be one of my next audiobook downloads... that cast is just too impressive.

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    1. I thought you had totally read World War Z! I thought you were one of the enthusiastic voices behind it! It's really so so so so so good. I can't even deal with how good it is.

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  8. Now I'm really super-glad that I put this book on my TBR Challenge list this year, because it's so NICE having books on there that I'm faiiiiirly sure are going to be awesome and therefore I have no excuse not to read them and totally ACE this challenge for the first time. Did that make sense? Sure it did. I always think oral histories are super-interesting because of the 'okay, just one more snippet' thing that kind of carries you effortlessly through the book, so I think I'm going to love it. AND YES, every time I see it on my shelf I think of Alley, because STRONG IN THIS ONE THE WORLD WAR Z LOVE IS. :)

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