Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Monday, October 24, 2011

"World War Z" by Max Brooks

Well, I told you I was going to hate this book. And, what do you know? I was right.

Not only is World War Z (obviously) about war (ugh!) but it is about a zombie war. I don't care for zombies. They're not pretty, they're not witty, they're not fun or clever or admirable. They're not even all that scary when you know how to handle them. So just what good are they, exactly?

Poor Max Brooks was already at a disadvantage with me due to his choice of subject matter, but this was only compounded by the grade-school errors that kept cropping up. Not like I've never made a mistake in my life, but I got annoyed right away by comma abuse (too many in some cases, not enough in others) and a jarring singular/plural mashup in one sentence ("It must have been a heartbreaking irony for those poor peasants, to see their town saved but then only being able to visit it as a tourist." Come on! Either learn to write or get an editor). Stuff like that keeps me from losing myself in the story. By the time I read "that time of the day when it's photovoltaic windows capture the setting sun" I was about ready to put this book out of its misery with one good shot to its brains. If I hadn't already read two thirds of it by that point, I think I would have. (Not to mention the fact that the library probably wouldn't be especially thrilled if I returned this book after an attempted pithing.)

This book is written from the perspective of a journalist conducting interviews with people from all over the world who were involved in fighting off the zombie hoards. In trying to describe every eventuality and cover every facet of the war, Brooks sacrifices the possibility of riveting story arcs that could have made me care about the individual humans involved. There were a few stories that stood out (the blind old Japanese man in the wilderness, the female American pilot lost in Louisiana) but most of the rest of the reports blended together in a nameless, faceless swirl. Even when I knew a character was being revisited, it wasn't often that I remembered where their story left off. And, paradoxically, it was annoying when stories stopped at a cliffhanger and were never picked up again.

In a nutshell: Boy, am I glad that's over. I have quite a feeling of glee as I peruse my TBR shelves, because I have every intention of LOVING the next book I read! Not least because I can assure you it won't have a single zombie in it.


Ti said...

It really sounds horrible in every way. I don't mind Zombies but I am a bit highbrow over how they are handled. Justin Cronin's zombie/vamp combo worked for me.

That sentence you shared said it all!

Aloha Kugs said...

I just met him last night. Loved his book and his writing. I think you would hav eenjoyed his talk!

Kathy said...

Ha, Ti, Rob's comment right after yours kind of made me feel bad for being so hard on the book. But . . . no, I've gotta stick with the knowledge that it just wasn't for me.