In One Word

In One Word, World War Z by Max Brooks is…

world war z

  • First published in 2006 by Crown
  • Format: Physical Book – Paperback, published in 2013 by Duckworth Overlook
  • Reading time: 2 comprehensive days


  • This was always going to be the hardest challenge out of Annemieke’s Sci-Fi reading challenges. I’m not very good with hard sci-fi so, out of the recommendations, I decided to pick the least daunting-sounding one. Just need to get this one read and I’ll be a Complete Alien!
  • Historical record format composed entirely of interviews of a large cross-section of people from around the world and even out of the world. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a zombie apocalypse tale that took the astronauts stranded on the International Space Station into account. The author really thought of everything and everyone from the criminal underground to the very top of society. Mostly, it focuses on the various militaries which makes sense as they were in the thick of it but I really much prefer the non-military stories. The soldier excerpts are full of technical terms of tactics and weapons that not even the helpful footnotes can shed much light on. I found myself skipping through vast sections of them so I definitely missed a lot. Which is a shame because it’s clear that the author did an incredible amount of research on this and world history.
  • Overarching question uttered by all the characters is, “What can you do?” Uttered in resignation, in defiance, in guilt and imploring for validation. The question that we are encouraged to ask ourselves and to answer honestly. This book certainly gives some unpleasant answers that nevertheless ring true.
  • Really good mick-take if all the zombie apocalypse tropes. Turns out that nations are not willing to put aside long-held grudges just because the whole world is being threatened by the undead, that weapons designed to kill humans aren’t all that efficient against zombies and, when the war is won, the important question on everyone’s lips isn’t anything noble – it’s who they can blame for all this.
  • Over the moon that the disabled characters survived!
  • Unfortunately, the constantly shifting viewpoint means I can’t get much of a focus on one person or one nation. The author did their best to be thorough in their world building but they did a bit too good of a job for it. I found myself forgetting the character’s name as soon as I finished their section which is a shame because some of them were very interesting. In particular, I want a whole book on Tomonaga and Konda. Their story sounds like the perfect set up for an action anime or film.
  • Going into great detail on how each country reacts to the zombie outbreak. Most of them are either horrifically brutal or head-shakingly stupid about it. And, yep, nukes get involved but not from the country or for the reasons you might think.
  • Hopeful and horrifying epilogue pieces as people look back on the past with regret and to the future with tentative optimism. Though, I must say, after the view at humanity this book offers, I don’t think they’re going to do a better job of it this time round. Just an advance warning, one of the countries involved takes a very Gileadian approach to rebuilding the human population. I honestly can’t believe they made a film out of this book. It’s so bitty and fragmented that it seems almost impossible to adapt to screen.

Goodreads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Did you agree with my rating? Can you think of a better word to describe it? Please let me know with a like, share or comment.

2 thoughts on “In One Word, World War Z by Max Brooks is…”

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