24 June 2013

World War Z Readalong... The Final Post

Literary Feline and I were the only two participating in this readalong and I couldn't even achieve my own deadline. Argh. However, I finished. And while I didn't fall madly in love with it, I enjoyed it immensely. And for those who think a book about zombies isn't up your alley, please do read on. This might be the one that sways you to give it a try.

This is an extremely entertaining book to read. It is an apocalyptic horror novel about zombies that sort of isn't about zombies at times, but instead is an oral history of eyewitness accounts of those who relay the initial breakdown, the Great Panic as people fought back or got bitten, and as people trusted the modern-day snake oil salesman who provided the "cure all" vaccine. World War Z is a successful sociological representation of how societies, countries, people, fall completely apart and what they do to survive, and what they ultimately do to rebuild it. Can you have a "smart" zombie story? Yes, and this is it. Max Brooks has done more homework than most scientists and sociologists (this is my opinion) to get a clear view of each piece of technology, survival skill, and social recovery than most. It is a fascinating approach to taking the natural and instinctive responses people have and applying it to a war with zombies, an ultimate enemy who has no limits, no need for air, no capacity to "take a break." It is the total war that countries have prepared for, knowing that it's more than likely that our enemies have some sort of humanity. But what if they have zero humanity? No ability to reason, to think, to have compassion? How do you fight against that?

Some stories in this second half captured me: The realization that it would be virtually impossible to eradicate the world completely of zombies, the Redekker plan (which was first presented in the first half, but the second half solidified the fear of a program which sacrificed healthy humans to divert zombies in order to preserve the overall masses), the changes in our environment and the loss of ecological systems, the "traitors" of China and what they went through, the Russian priest, the "quislings" who were human but who identified with the zombies and became wild and acted like zombies. I wish Max Brooks had included what an interview with a rehabilitated quisling might have been like. That would have been interesting.

Each interview of a subject includes a brief one paragraph intro at the start on who that person is, where they are now located, etc. Invariably, because every few pages included a new documented eyewitness account, it was difficult to absorb who the character was, or get into the story too much because it would end shortly thereafter and move onto a new character. Most of these stories were not linked at all, but occasionally, one interviewee provided a slight detail that reminded me of another story. It did feel like I had a collection of government files I had surreptitiously received. Bear in mind that, as I mentioned before, (in one way or another) this book is a complete dissection of what a societal breakdown could result in, and that was simultaneously frightening and fascinating.

So the bottom line is that I liked it a lot, but I didn't love it as so many others have. I wish I had, I do feel like I'm missing out. I have heard that the movie has been somewhat well-received, and that it's very different than the book. That's not necessarily surprising, considering the fact that the book is just a collection of three- to five-page interviews, or collections of eyewitness accounts, so I was intrigued to hear how they were planning to adapt it to film. I plan to see it this weekend, hopefully, so we shall see!

Favorite passage:
The monsters that rose from the dead, they are nothing compared to the ones we carry in our hearts. (p.252)
Did you participate? Enter the link to your final write-up here:


12 June 2013

World War Z Readalong... Midway Post

I've made it to the halfway mark of World War Z and am ready to go for the last half. This is one of the most unique formats of a book I've ever read. I must say I now understand that it is not a book about zombies, but instead a book detailing the frightening breakdown of a safe and civilized society. Which is why the book is such a success. Had it just been about moaning, arm-stretching zombies then it would have fit into the same bucket as all the other stories out there that are hit and miss.

Instead, World War Z is uniquely constructed in a documentary-style format of three- to five-page interviews with a variety of people around the world. The interviewees are members of the military, scientists, filmmakers, bartenders, family members, and more, chronicling their part in the panic of it all. It's fascinating. I feel like I have a fat confidential file of interviews and I'm sneakily reading it.

Even more interesting is the discussion of how those who made money sitting behind a desk or brokering major deals are of absolutely no use in this new society. Instead, blue collar, skilled laborers are where the need now is, and if you don't have the ability to fend for yourself, you are classified as one who cannot contribute to society and must be trained into a new skill. Can you imagine the horror of those high-paid executives or lawyers, or members of government, who now must shovel manure to generate fuel or clean rooms? Scientifically fascinating on how it happens and the responses. Who becomes the real enemy? The zombies, that are more background based to the overall story, or ourselves and the pride and vanity that becomes such a shackle in the new world?

As with any collection of interviews, or stories, some are riveting (the family who moves further north and their experience at a lakeside campground, or the scene with the ships: disturbing) and others are dry. That's okay for me; it's a fast read and I'm enjoying it as a distraction from the fact that I was reading Under the Dome way too fast. I'm preparing for the movie release of World War Z and I can't wait.

Are you reading along, too? If so, enter your post link below and copy 


03 June 2013

World War Z Readalong, anyone? Starts..now.

CLEARLY, I cannot get enough of readalongs, especially those with movie or series adaptations right around the corner. I am also way too far ahead with the Under the Dome Readalong (40 participants!) since I'm currently at page 800 with only 200 left to go and two months left to finish. With my upcoming two-day business trip, I was faced with a dilemma with my 1,000+ page, five-pound copy: Do I bring the book with me when I know I'll finish it with nothing left to read, or do I take a break and read something else in-between?

With World War Z premiering in a few weeks, it seemed like the right thing to do to take a breather from all the awesomeness that is Stephen King, and dive into Max Brooks' bestseller to get me prepared for the upcoming movie. I've heard so much about the book that I still can't believe I've waited this long to read it.

So... do you want to join along? If so, link up below, write a post about it, and off we go!

The deets
  • Published 2006
  • Author Max Brooks
  • 342 pages
  • Readalong runs from June 5 to June 19
  • Readalong hosted here at Coffee and a Book Chick
  • Movie premiere is June 21
  • Publish a halfway post on June 12 (up through page 136, all chapters up to Turning the Tide)
  • Publish a finale post on June 19
If the movie trailer doesn't pull you in...

You in? If so, answer these questions:
  • Do you want to see the movie because of Brad Pitt? No.
  • Will you be watching the movie during the premiere weekend? Yep, but going to see a matinee on Sunday. No way will I see it on opening night!
  • What do you know about World War Z? Everyone seems to love it, I'm wicked behind and can't believe I haven't read it yet, and who can miss out on zombie stories done well?
  • What are you reading? Print, ebook, or audio? A print copy for me!

Here's the blog button. Join me!