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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Book Review: World War Z

Thanks to Snow Day, I got to actually sit down with a book yesterday. Since becoming a programmer I've read less and less print. Lifestyle changes, crunch times, accessibility to the Internet and game consoles have eroded what used to be a major portion of my day. You when you recover from a long illness and realize you haven't eaten much in days and instantly become ravenous? I devoured half of World War Z in a few hours.

The book is by Max Brooks, son of Mel and author of the Zombie Survival Guide - which isn't just a companion piece but is actually referred within WWZ. Brooks assumes the role of an interviewer who hops the globe collecting stories from the war against the zombies. It's like modernism lite - even the dust jacket of the book plays along with the faux history that is being woven. As such, WWZ is essentially a collection of shorts framed by Brooks as a mostly invisible narrator. Brooks will posit questions to his characters and provide annotations and footnotes, but mostly the novel is first person accounts of zombie survival.

It's very difficult to pin this book down to anything. It's not comedy - some of the stories are poignant and haunting. Yet - it never makes the mistake of taking itself too seriously or get weighted down with lectures. At times it borders on satire as human errors and strategic mistakes comprise nearly as much of the horror as flesh eating ghouls ... but there isn't a tone of indictment. It's historical fiction with a horror twist. While at times almost overly simplistic - a factor of telling short accounts intended to seem factual - Brooks compensates by providing a pretty well rounded world of slang and a plausible set of world events which interplay in between the stories.

The result is a lot of fun and quick read that isn't hard to put down but will make you want to pick it up again shortly. If, like me, you can hardly find the time even for that - it's been recently optioned for a movie.

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