World War Z review

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Icon Jan 24, 2015

I am a big fan of zombie apocalypse fiction, and the whole post apocalyptic genre in general. I don’t understand why, and I’ve continued to avoid self analysing too much. But I agree it’s a strange genre for a Christian to be enthralled by. I’ve seen all the movies and the TV shows, and so this was my first Zombie novel. I picked it up for cheap from Amazon for my Kindle as some light holiday reading, which indeed it was. I hear there has been a movie made, and it’s entertained me enough that I will no doubt watch the movie at some stage, although I’m in not great rush.

Things I didn’t love:

  • The entire novel is made up of a series of very short vignettes. This approach does bring some advantages (see ‘things I did appreciate’ section), however what it fails to do is create characters that you get to know well enough to care about in any kind of cathartic way
  • Related to the above, the novel doesn’t give enough detail into the specific drama of the Zombie war. Even with all the stories combined, the overall narrative doesn’t feel like it has enough ‘meat’ on it that I can connect to or care about or really picture in my mind’s eye
  • Probably mostly to do with the reasons above, the story didn’t enthrall me. I was interested enough to finish the novel, but it wasn’t a book that I ‘had to finish’

Things I did appreciate:

  • The vignette approach meant that the story was able to easily jump from one character in a particular situation, to another entirely different part of the world with no connection to the first. This meant that the novel was able to tell a very broad and expansive story. I enjoyed seeing the action from all different perspectives and feeling like each small story unveiled another small piece of the larger story. However see ‘Things I didn’t love above’ – this meant there was great breadth at the expense of depth.
  • You never knew what was coming next – each new chapter was ‘fresh’ in that it introduced a character you hadn’t met before giving their perspective on the same story you’d been following all the way through. I like how this worked
  • It felt like the author had really considered how the world could realistically end up responding to an event like this. He considered the strengths and weaknesses in existing ideological, social and cultural structures, and how they may respond to a Zombie crisis.
  • The author kept a focus on the most interesting elements of the story – individual stories. He didn’t get caught up trying to explore all the nuances of how the world would respond. He kept it tight and personal
  • Like all good Zombie apocalypse fiction, there was plenty of ‘action’ throughout – plenty of references to different ways to kill them, and different ways to get killed by them
  • I feel my Zombie worldview has expanded a little now. I’ve got some interesting new data on how they operate and what the world around them might be like e.g. the ocean would be full of them, there would be a LaMOE in every town, they would freeze stiff in cold places in Winter (so escape North!), and tricking them into ‘suicide’ might be a good battle tactic…

If you are a Zombie fiction fan, I suggest you give it a read.