Friday, February 09, 2007

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

First can I say how amusing it is to me that my husband FORBADE me to buy a copy of this book in case it frightened me, and so I borrowed it from a friend, in true underground style. I have now left that copy with another friend to loan around his circle, and will buy first friend a new copy to cherish and loan out to more people. So it goes with truly classic books that don't have an enormous marketing push behind them.

So, to the book itself. Well, you're either the kind of person who reads and loves zombie books and watches zombie films, or you're not. I can't really explain the joy of having the shit scared out of me by zombies, although the friend who loaned me the book did liken it to the creepy experience you get from watching a load of old Protect and Survive films, and it is a similar feeling. It induces, in me at any rate, a genuinely thrilling and almost paralyzing fear of the dark, of walking on the beach alone, and of being in a house in the country that has a ground floor seemingly composed entirely of flimsy glass (burglars take note), such as my brother's. The result is a satisfactory period of about a week of sleepless nights, and possibly many more nightmares to come, depending on how often I think about the book.

There's a lot to think about. Max Brooks has considered almost every possible aspect of a global zombie outbreak which results in boggling figures, such as the idea of the continental U.S. playing host to some 220 million zombies, and chilling stories, such as the one about the family that flees north above the snow line only to find itself in the midst of brawling, starving families and a bleak future. The little touches are amazing. The big sweep is incredibly detailed and beautifully faithful to current political and topographical regions. And, like all the best horror or science fiction, the zombies can stand for any major threat you care to name. Eurabia, greenhouse gases, the suffocating crush of an uninsured aging population, dumbing down of society, they can stand for anything.

This is one of the most frightening, most inventive, most fun books I have ever read. Just please don't ask me to read it next to a darkened window.


Trish Byrne said...

I forgot to mention the other way in which I think this is the perfect book: I can see it sparking off a whole series of World War Z books, with tales from all corners of the world.

FatB said...

Apparently Brad Pitt's production company has the option to turn this into a fillum.