World War Z by Max Brooks

What Would Happen in a Real Zombie Apocalypse

It is the time for celebration! Yes! Finally! I knew this day would come! The end day! The day I finally finished World War Z!

Every time I tried to read this book, I got stuck part of the way. It would be that piece of work that needed doing, that coursework reading, even that blog post that needed writing… I can’t really remember a starting date to my zombie adventure, but it must have been over a year. That means if I read a side of a page each day, I would have finished quicker. But no matter! Because the way this book was written, it didn’t matter taking my time.

Yes, the book. Not the film.


The war is over. Humans have triumphed. While parts of the world, known as “White Zones”, are still heavily infested, attacks of the brain-munchers have declined, and the world has declared an official victory. Max Brooks (in this universe, an agent of the United Nations Postwar Commission) has been tasked with interviewing multiple people from all around the world to create a historical document of the events. Finding that the human element is severely lacking in the document (that’s what makes us different from “Zacks”) and he’s “published” this book as an oral history of the war for different people.

THIS BOOK IS NOTHING LIKE THE FILM! That is why this isn’t a book v. film. I find them too different, and while the film has it’s merits, the novel is far more interesting to talk about. But for the record: thumbs up for the book.

And what makes the book so special anyway? Well, it’s accurate. If a zombie outbreak ever happened, this is pretty much what would happen. What would governments around the world do? Some try and contain it, some just fatally think of it as a hoax, and others take immediate action. For example, Israel starts to quarantine the nation, Yonkers in New York are ill-advised, and their live fight between zombies ends in disaster, Pakistan and Iran mutually destroy each other in nuclear warfare… the Great Panic begins.

Yikes, humanity is screwed.

Anyway, you may be asking: “So what if it’s accurate? Give me something else, Vinci!” Let’s make it clearer then. Firstly, the diversity of characters is fantastic. I don’t believe you revisit the same person until the final chapter (which helps with fractured reading), so you have a whole book of people, from those you just want to salute for their survival, to others you want to punch in the face who exploited their power. And then there’s some who just carry the weight of millions of dead on their shoulders. Your emotions are thrown about like the Hulk’s got you by the heart, Indiana Jones style.

One of the best things is the huge amounts of information you get. While not much is known about the “Zacks” apart from head-shots, head-shots and SHOOT THE DAMN HEAD, you know what military tactics were used, the equipment available, the cut-throat evacuation techniques…

My absolute favourite part is when you see society has turned upside-down. (If you really can’t stand spoilers, even small ones, skip to the conclusion.) Cuba becoming one of the most powerful countries at the end of the war was fun, but it’s when I see snobs stripped of their authority that is so sweet. America goes into a “total war” phase: everyone helps the war effort. The thing is, useful skills are rewarded more heavily than those deemed unworthy. So carpentry is more important than entertainments. It’s so perfect to see a snooty talent agent being lectured in important skills by her cleaner. It’s like being in charge of Brad Pitt because you have a degree in agriculture.


Looking at the workings of a zombie apocalypse. Tackling the social, political, and economical issues of the war, while still keeping in the gory imagery of death and destruction, World War Z gives us a realistic and giant world of interesting characters, comments on society, and a true passion to be human… with zombies.