Book Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

Jean-Paul’s Rating 5/5 stars

Open letter to Brad Pitt:  Dear Mr. Pitt, what were you thinking?  Your movie version of “World War Z” was, to put it kindly, not very good.  If I had read the book prior to watching the movie I would have likely given the movie version only one star.  The similarities between the book and the movie were this: they both had zombies.  Partially, this is not your fault.  A book the breadth of “World War Z” is by no means a good fit for the silver screen and that’s what you know.  If you still own the rights to “World War Z”, you can salvage this disaster.  I humbly recommend staying true to spirit of the book and producing a series of vignettes as seen through the eyes of a reporter collecting post-war stories from around the globe.  A web service like Netflix would be superb for this.  With Netflix, you can feel free to tell the stories in a series of episodes without having to worry about how long each episode is.  Each season would be a specific time period in the War.  Stories could be taken straight from the book or new ones could be created for the show.  This needs to happen.  Make it so.  Thank you.

I was not surprised to learn that Max Brooks has basically created a “World War Z” empire around this book.  It is a compelling look at not just a world at war with a remorseless enemy, but also believable tales of humanity as told by individuals who were lucky enough to survive the war.  It is the believability that makes the book so excellent.  You believe that people would prey off fear to become rich.  You believe that the army could be that stupid.  You believe that a limited nuclear war could break out.  You believe that Israel could be that paranoid.  You believe Russia could descend into an autocratic theocracy.  The zombies are ever present in the text, but they are in many ways secondary.  At it’s soul, “World War Z” is not a book about zombies.  It’s a book about how humanity reacts to dire situations.  In this case, the dire situation just happens to be the zombie apocalypse.

Like J.K. Rowling, Max Brooks has successfully created a world that will quickly spin out of his immediate control.  The way the book is put together almost guarantees it.  There are likely already thousands of fan fiction pieces set in the “World War Z” world.  This is because Brooks succeeds in doing the one thing that is most difficult to accomplish; the book ends but he leaves you wanting more.  Bravo, Mr. Brooks.  Bravo.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

    1. Jean-Paul Post author

      It was a Brad Pitt joint. Pitt’s Plan B company and DiCaprio’s Appian Way actually had a bidding war over the rights and Pitt won. I have no doubt that studio execs had their filthy paws in the rewrite, but it’s still Pitt’s baby.

      1. Steven Scott

        With a troubled production schedule, including massive reshoots, and a script that went from “JMS’s World War Z” to “Zombie Apocalypse Move #27,468″….I’d more blame Paramount and their collective suck. But that’s the problem(?) with movies…you never know who was responsible for what, good or bad.

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