Hello everyone, and welcome to 111 Archer Avenue. What started as a film review blog has become my online judgment forum. I will review the occasional movie or DVD, post an interesting trailer, critique a newly-read book, talk about sports, and share my thoughts and opinions on random issues. You can also follow me on Twitter (@OlieCoen) or check out my work on DVDTalk.com. Thank you and enjoy!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Book Review - World War Z

Author: Max Brooks
Year: 2006

When I first saw the trailer for the film version of this book I was pretty excited.  I love zombie movies and here was one based on a novel, directed by Marc Forster, and starring Brad Pitt.  I figured it would be a visually stunning and very exciting zombie movie done with all the monetary backing of Hollywood.  And it was, to some extent.  It was cool and epic, but it lacked the punch & gore & grit of lower budget zombie films, making World War Z a good but not great movie.  So then my friend lent me the original book and I was excited again, expecting a more detailed storyline, the film fleshed out.  What I got was a good book, again not amazing, but one that had absolutely nothing to do with the movie whatsoever.  I have never read a book that was so distant from its film version, being only related to each other by the title.

WWZ is subtitled An Oral History of the Zombie War, and that's exactly what it is.  From the beginning an unnamed narrator/journalist begins interviews of the survivors of the global catastrophe known as the Zombie War.  The war is over during the sessions and each part is told as a history lesson from a firsthand account.  The story is broken into sections, each depicting a stage of the great war.  Warnings; the beginning of the zombie outbreak, from infection to the spread of the disease.  Blame; the causes and potential cover ups.  The Great Panic; when humanity was on the brink of annihilation, on the run from an unstoppable force.  Turning the Tide; the beginning of the war against the zombies.  Home Front USA; how the battle was fought in America.  Around the World, and Above; snapshots of the war across the globe.  Total War; how humans defeated the undead tide.  And finally, Good-byes; the final chapter.

The novel was written in a very interesting way, giving away the ending at the very beginning and then filling us in on the details later.  We knew right away that there was a Zombie War and that humanity won.  But by personal interview we meet the characters who had a part in the battle, those who fought the undead and lived.  We learn how it was done, what changed because of the war, and ultimately why life goes on.  It's a cool way to tell a story, especially for a history or war buff.  But the only problem with this style is that there aren't any protagonists, there is no one to root for.  Or in a sense, there are too many people to root for and as a reader you can't fall in love with any one character.  And when you can't connect to the story it becomes less real, more imaginary, and it loses its depth.  I enjoyed reading WWZ, it was fascinating and completely different from the movie.  But in the end it left me with no great impression, no lasting feeling; it was just a fun book.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰


  1. Good review Olie. Some parts of this book feel a bit stretched, but other times, it's absolutely fascinating to read. If only the adaptation actually stayed true to this material, then we would have probably had an epic movie on our hands. Probably very expensive one, too, but still awesome no less.

    1. I'd like to see a serious of movies made out of the more action-packed events in the book, break it down.