World War Z

Monday, June 20, 2016


World War Z
Max Brooks, 2006 (audio edition 2007)

Challenge Book! Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 - Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award

Premise: After the end of the Zombie War, journalist Max Brooks travels around the world to collect the stories of survivors, to keep alive the memory of an unprecedented struggle.

Look, I finished an audiobook! It helps that a) I have a new commute that takes a long time, and b) this book is basically ideal to record as an audiobook. The structure of multiple narrators and interviews is perfect for this full-cast format.

I can also understand both why Hollywood snapped it up for a movie and why the adaptation was reportedly terrible. This would be a fantastic fictional documentary, or a series of short films. It would not work as a single-character adventure vehicle.

I really enjoyed listening to this book, although I went back and forth on how realistic I felt it was. The immediacy and detail of each account was nicely nuanced, and the voices and passion of the narrators suck you into each personal story. I loved how many different cultures and perspectives are represented, although it does occasionally lapse into tropes. (Spoilerish: a blind samurai fighting zombies in the forest... really?)

I did at some point realize how few of the voices were female, which diminished my enjoyment somewhat. This edition was abridged from the book, however, so maybe there is a greater range of voices in the original (or the extended audio!)

The multiple perspectives keep the story from feeling too obvious. As you piece together the narrative, you find a skillful portrayal of global bureaucracy set against individual struggle. I liked the subtle touches, for example, the different slang for zombies used by different characters, and the various terms for different major phases of the war.

I liked each individual story, but by the end of the full book, I barely remembered the beginning. For me, this is one of the main drawbacks of audiobooks - how much longer they take. I might try another one given my commute, but I’m not in a hurry.

4 Stars - A Very Good Book

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