I’m not into zombie stories. I don’t watch movies or tv shows about them (although I’m told The Waking Dead is quite good) and I don’t usually read about them. Similarly to Twilight being as much of a romance novel as it is a book about vampires, I had heard that the movie, World War Z, was more of an action flick than a horror movie. I chose to read (listen to) the book because I had read that the audiobook was great and I wanted to see the movie if for no other reason that I find Brad Pitt to be a talented actor (please see my The Lucky One review for my definition of talent). Well, guess what. I am still not that into zombie stories but I liked the book.
To start with, Brooks found a unique and captivating way to the deliver the story of what it might be like if there was a mass outbreak of zombism. It was as if I was listening to an actual documentary about “the Zombie War” just like I might listen to or watch a documentary about World War 2. There were survivors of all kinds that gave their accounts of what happened. The characters varied from a housewife to an army colonel to a doctor to the Vice President of the United States. Each chapter of the book was an interview with a different person and took place in a different part of the world spanning from China to Cuba to California. Their stories touched on what happened at the beginning of the outbreak to the way media covered it to the way that total cities were taken over to the war that took place to fight them and the aftermath of that war.
Actually, there were 43 interviews performed by 40 different voice actors with Max Brooks acting as the narrator or interviewer. Of those 40 voice actors, I recognized the names/careers of 23 of them. As Max Brooks had worked as a voice actor previously, he already had a number of connections with some excellent voice actors but I am sure that having Mel Brooks as your father doesn’t hurt either. Needless to say, the collection of voices was very impressive and gave quite a bit of credence to the format of it being a documentary. Although I still can’t say that I necessarily appreciated that this was a book about zombies, I would argue that the book was more about what we, as humans, are capable of (the good and the bad) under dire circumstances.
World War Z, the movie, was practically completely different from Brooks’ novel. Brooks’ involvement with the making of the movie consisted of him choosing between giving movie rights to Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company, Appian Way, and Brad Pitt’s company, Plan B (the obvious winner). In an interview, Brooks had said that there was only one character that was in both the movie and the book and it wasn’t Brad Pitt’s. Brooks stated that he was able to enjoy the movie because he didn’t feel like it was an abomination of his novel because it was entirely different. Brooks does seem to lament the fact that true fans of his book, which has taken on a sort of a cult following, didn’t get to experience some of the more famous scenes from the book on the silver screen. I am disappointed that the makers of the film felt the need to even change the characteristic of the zombies. The zombies in the book moved slowly and were not seen as super human whereas the zombies in the movie moved very quickly and seemed to have super strength.
I will say that somewhere over the last decade I have become a huge wuss when it comes to watching horror movies, and, to make matters worse, I saw this movie in 3D. It was not a poorly made movie by any means and it did have a lot of action but the tension and fear of zombies jumping through the screen at me was almost enough to make me pee my pants. I liked the movie but I didn’t enjoy the movie, if that makes any sense.
I am not sure who to recommend this book, World War Z, to. But I will say that it makes for a great audiobook and it wasn’t too long, running at a little over 8 hours. I picked up the movie tie-in version that was released in May of 2013. The movie, World War Z, which I can best describe as a re-imagining of the book, was for the most part an entertaining action flick with a great deal of horror mixed in and a healthy dose of eye candy, I mean, talent.