Books I Love

World War Z: The Book, Not the Movie

The other night I went to go see the movie, World War Z. Now generally I am not a fan of watching the movie after I’ve read the book. The movie always disappoints. But this movie was really very good. And why? Because there was no chance it could be anything like the book. Even though the book is really, really good. Let me explain.

World War Z is a tale about the zombie apocalypse. But it is not written in a traditional style. In fact, there is no main character. You don’t follow a single person throughout the book, even though dozens of them are introduced. The book is written as if it is a collection of United Nations reports gathered after the zombie apocalypse has ended.

I won’t lie: At first, it was a little tough to get into. I like to meet my characters, get to know them, care about them. That wasn’t an option here. Each report involved a new character, usually in a different part of the world. But each story was compelling in its own right. In reflection, I realize the whole book was actually written from the perspective of humanity going through the stages of grief. First denial that the zombies were truly zombies. Then anger at what’s happening, depression that the plight can ever be overcome and so on.

In fact, you could even say the apocalypse itself is the main character that you are following. Each report highlights another aspect of its character. And this is a character you really want to know. By the end, you are trying to figure out how life goes on and you’re marveling at the human spirit.

And even though World War Z is written as reports, there’s nothing dull about it. Max Brooks has crafted a believable scenario and it is incredibly difficult to put down. It’s like reading a documentary on the zombie apocalypse. No, wait. That sounds boring. World War Z is anything but. It is truly fascinating form start to finish. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good book about zombies?

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5 thoughts on “World War Z: The Book, Not the Movie”

  1. I went into this film thinking exactly the same thing. “Shouldn’t this have been more like an after the fact documentary?”. I am still amazed at how much of the detail of the book was incorporated, but even more surprised that the movie translated the spirit of the story that Max was trying to tell.

    I’ll admit that I was really hoping for some of the story of the young girl who fled to Canada with her parents (Something about the somber and goriness at a slow pace made that portion great.). But even without that this movie was great.

    1. I know what you mean. I figured the movie would be loosely based upon the book. But it really did capture its spirit. I would have liked to see a little more of the after,ate, ie., when they figured out how to deal with the zombies. But definitely a movie worth seeing!

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