Friday, June 28, 2013

Fiction Friday (18)

Despite having this week's book for years, I didn't read it until this past month. There are several reasons for this. The first is that I received it around the time I was writing Zombie Blondes and I hate reading anything that's on-topic with whatever I'm currently working on. Then it sat on my shelf for a long time, lost in a mountain of books that I want to read. Finally, as the movie was approaching, I decided that I wanted to read World War Z before seeing the film. Given the option, that's always my preferred order of doing things. And now that I have, I'm free to visit the theater next week and watch the drama on the big screen. 

World War Z by Max Brooks
(Crown, 2006)

Less about zombies in any traditional sense, this riveting novel is more of a description of a global extinction event. In this case, the event happens to be the dead coming back to life. However, the reader sees very little of the flesh eating creatures. Instead, we hear from various survivors from all over the world who were involved in the conflict in diverse ways.

The narrative structure is perhaps the book's most intriguing element. Rather than conforming to the typical plot format of most novels, Max Brooks chose to tell the history of this conflict through a series of fictional interviews. Following the event more or less chronologically, the interviews tell the story of the initial Great Panic and the eventual offensive against the undead. The most fascinating part for me was the difficult steps governments were forced to take, illustrating a political drama of tremendous stakes. I also thought the discussion of tactics taken by the military in their counter-offensive were exceptionally well thought-out.

My one critique of the book is that the multitude of voices tended to sound too similar. The Russian soldier sounded like the American teenager, who sounded like the South African politician, who sounded like the Japanese refugee. From a writing point of view, I would have liked to see these characters own their voice a little more, but I understand that wasn't the point of the story. It didn't detract from my enjoyment while reading the book. It was only something that bothered me afterward, but honestly, I doubt most readers would particularly care. Really a great read.

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