Thursday, July 11, 2013

World War Z: and oral history of the zombie war - Max Brooks



For those who knows me, and maybe read this blog, know for sure that I don't like to read stories about dystopian world.  And yet here I am, reviewing a book called "World War Z".  No, I'm not reading this book because all of the hype about the book, but unfortunately a little bit because of the movie.  Hey, I got curious.  I want to know what so good about the movie (and maybe the book).  I finally decided to buy this book (yup! I BOUGHT the book) was after my friend Dito told me that the book was actually quite good.  Hey, if Dito said it was good, why not try to read it.  So I did.

Bought this book maybe two weeks ago, at Periplus MKG.  Found a book that not in plastic wrap, so I can read the first page.  And I guess the rest was history.

And, I'm not just bought the book, but I also downloaded the audiobook from Audible.  Why? Because when I read the...review or the synopsis about the edition that I want to buy, they wrote this "These additional episodes feature a star-studded cast of narrators to coincide with the upcoming release of the film"

I know the audiobook version is still the ABRIDGED version.  Its mean that some part of the book was not recorded.  But, this version is the newest version, that got 5 additional hours.  But what really sell me was "a star-studded cast of narrators" part.  Instead of just 1 or maybe 4 narrators, now they have lots of people reading the book. And because the day I read the book was the day that I had to go to the mall and I really want to "read" so I'm beginning to look for the audiobook.

I never read any story about zombie attacks or war before.  I even didn't watch The Walking Dead.  I did watch Resident Evil, but I think I watched it just because I like all the cool movie effects.  And maybe a little bit because how they fight against the zombie. 

So, since I don't have any experience about zombie stories before, I don't think I can compare this book to any zombie book (is there another book about zombie?).

According to the title, this book is a history book, an oral history book about the zombie war.


The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”

Note: Some of the numerical and factual material contained in this edition was previously published under the auspices of the United Nations Postwar Commission.


Eyewitness reports from the first truly global war

“I found ‘Patient Zero’ behind the locked door of an abandoned apartment across town. . . . His wrists and feet were bound with plastic packing twine. Although he’d rubbed off the skin around his bonds, there was no blood. There was also no blood on his other wounds. . . . He was writhing like an animal; a gag muffled his growls. At first the villagers tried to hold me back. They warned me not to touch him, that he was ‘cursed.’ I shrugged them off and reached for my mask and gloves. The boy’s skin was . . . cold and gray . . . I could find neither his heartbeat nor his pulse.” —Dr. Kwang Jingshu, Greater Chongqing, United Federation of China


“‘Shock and Awe’? Perfect name. . . . But what if the enemy can’t be shocked and awed? Not just won’t, but biologically can’t! That’s what happened that day outside New York City, that’s the failure that almost lost us the whole damn war. The fact that we couldn’t shock and awe Zack boomeranged right back in our faces and actually allowed Zack to shock and awe us! They’re not afraid! No matter what we do, no matter how many we kill, they will never, ever be afraid!” —Todd Wainio, former U.S. Army infantryman and veteran of the Battle of Yonkers


“Two hundred million zombies. Who can even visualize that type of number, let alone combat it? . . . For the first time in history, we faced an enemy that was actively waging total war. They had no limits of endurance. They would never negotiate, never surrender. They would fight until the very end because, unlike us, every single one of them, every second of every day, was devoted to consuming all life on Earth.” —General Travis D’Ambrosia, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe 


That was written on Amazon.com.

The story began with an introduction from the author.  He said that 12 years have passed since a VA Day was declared, and the reason he wrote the book was because of an assignment from UN to write a report about the zombie war.  But, since the UN deleted almost half of what he wrote (because it was too intimate), he decided (and even encouraged) to write the book based on the report.

If you expected this book to be like a story about a person or persons survival against the zombie and how he/she/they finally win, I don't think you'll find that in this.  Of course in the end all of them, we the human race are win against the undead. But that not how this story works.

The story is written or told from different point of view, or to be exact, come from different opinions.  From soldiers, doctors, politician, civilian, mothers, even crook businessman.  They told us how they knew about the zombie, how they survived, and how are they now.  Some were funny (yeah, I even can't believe that I can laugh when I read/hear it), some were quite depressing, some were frightening. You even know about what each nation were doing or planning to do to defeat the zombie.  Some were bitter about the whole zombie war, some can rise above it.

Max Brooks wrote it really like a history book. He wrote it how the zombie came to be (or at least how it spread), how the world reacted at first, then how the world get panic, and how the world decided to get smart about how to fight the undead.

Reading the book, I felt like I can see how it all come to be.  And it's scary.

I like the story about how the US Army begin to win against the undead, how they get smart on killing the undead.  I also like about the retirement farms for the army's K-9 Corps.  And about the Chinese Navy who decided to rebel against their own government, because according to them the government can't make the right decision (and they're right).  

Some of the story was quite boring for me.  I think mostly because I didn't understand the topic or because the person telling the story was too bitter. I still like a happy ending story.

Some of it maybe too far fetched, too good to be true, or maybe doesn't even make sense, but I don't know any of it, but if it did, well...its just a story. It's a zombie war!

In the end, the story is about us, human, not about the zombie itself.  Its about us.  How we face our trouble, how we rise above it (or sunk under it), how we learned to survive.  In the end, it's about hope.  That in the end everything will be alright (even if it takes 5-10 years).

So...I really like this book.  Different from what I usually read, but its worth it.  I don't know if I'll start reading any dystopian book (Hunger Games maybe? Since Dito also told me that it's not really a dystopian), but for this one, I like it.



Now, for the audiobook part.

OMG!! I really like it.  First, because there are so many narrators.  Each character's point of view was read by different person.  You have Nathan Fillion (Castle), Martin Scorsese, Jeri Ryan (Body of Proof), Masi Oka (Heroes), Alfred Molina (Spiderman) and many more.  Look it up on wikipedia.  Some were good, I mean it sounds like you were listening to the tape of the interview. And few were not so good, too monotone for me.  But most part, I love it.  I even listened to it while I'm inside the mall, doing some shopping in the supermarket hahaha...sometimes I even have to rewind the ipod.  But I really enjoyed listening to it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Assassin's Curse Duology - Cassandra Rose Clark

 Bulan Juni kemaren rasanya cukup penuh jadwal gue...unduh film, ke mal, ke mangdu, trus pergi sama Gerrie yang lagi dateng ke Jakarta.

Sebenernya ada satu buku Bahasa Indonesia yang menarik dan bagus, tapi entah kenapa dari kemaren gue masih belum niat untuk review.  Yang ada malah gue review dua buku ini dulu.

So...background.  Awalnya gue enggak ngeh sama dua buku ini.  Yang pertama kali gue liat adalah The Pirate's Wish yang ada di Amazon, karena memang The Pirate's Wish sepertinya merupakan buku baru alias new release.  Dengan malu gue mengakui, bahwa yang membuat gue tertarik adalah karena adanya kalimat "and come to terms with their growing romantic attraction" di bagian sinopsis buku. *facepalmed*

Setelah dicari, berhasil lah gue mengunduh dua buku ini.  Yup, yang dibaca versi e-book nya.  Dan kemudian gue iseng ke Audible untuk ngedengerin versi audiobooknya.  Ternyata suara naratornya menarik, jadilah gue juga ikut mengunduh versi audiobooknya.  Dan seperti biasa, gue membaca sambil mendengarkan audiobooknya.


 

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.


Diliat dari covernya, udah ketebak kalo settingnya di padang pasir, middle east gitu. Setelah baca kalimat pertama atau mungkin halaman pertama, ketauan kalo mereka itu adalah bajak laut. (Kalau baca sinopsisnya sih sebenernya udah tau ya kalo Ananna itu bajak laut, tapi berhubung gue enggak baca sinospsinya jadi yah...gue enggak tau).

Semakin dibaca, semakin gue tau kalo ini cerita masuk kategori novel fantasi, again something that I should have known (Dito....gue menggunakan present perfect tense nih hahaha) if I read the synopsis.

Bisa dibilang, gue suka dengan buku ini.  Ananna digambarkan sebagai tokoh perempuan yang independen dan berani, maklum anak kapten bajak laut, sudah tentu kudu berani.  Cerita dilihat dari sudut pandang dia, alias menggunakan sudut pandang orang pertama.  Sesuatu yang awalnya enggak gitu gue suka, tapi kok ya makin banyak cerita yang gue baca menggunakan metode ini.  Hieh...nasib.

Cerita di buku ini berjalan dengan cukup cepat, enggak bertele-tele, dengan deskripsi yang enggak terlalu membosankan.  Deskripsinya cukup lah buat gue untuk membayangkan situasi dan gambaran lingkungan yang ada di dunia Ananna itu.  

Yang tidak gue sangka adalah, di buku pertama ini, kutukan yang dialami Naji, dan mau tidak mau juga merembet ke Ananna, tidak dipatahakn pada waktu buku berakhir.  Dan gue cuma bisa bilang, Thanks God gue udah ada buku dua!

Untuk buku satu, seperti yang udah gue bilang, buku ini cukup menarik.  Menarik untuk melihat lebih jauh latar belakang Ananna dan juga alasan kenapa sampai Naji terkutuk, melihat bagaimana mereka berdua berinteraksi karena dua-dua keras kepala (Naji yang harus melindungi Ananna sebagai efek kutukannya, sedangkan Ananna yang merasa dia tidak perlu dilindungi), kemudian Naji yang dikejar-kejar oleh kelompok dari The Mist, atau Ananna yang juga harus siaga menghadapi kejaran musuh (khususnya keluarga Hariri yang anak laki-lakinya tidak jadi ia nikahi).

Mengingat buku dan juga audiobook nya selesai dalam 1 hari, buat gue, buku pertama ini cukup tipis, dan kurang panjang hahaha.  




After setting out to break the curse that binds them together, the pirate Ananna and the assassin Naji find themselves stranded on an enchanted island in the north with nothing but a sword, their wits, and the secret to breaking the curse: complete three impossible tasks. With the help of their friend Marjani and a rather unusual ally, Ananna and Naji make their way south again, seeking what seems to be beyond their reach.

Unfortunately, Naji has enemies from the shadowy world known as the Mists, and Ananna must still face the repercussions of going up against the Pirate Confederation. Together, Naji and Ananna must break the curse, escape their enemies — and come to terms with their growing romantic attraction.


Lanjut, buku dua.

Ini dia buku yang membuat gue sampe enggak tidur, demi menghabiskan buku ini.  Jujur, I cheated.  Gue langsung ke bagian akhir demi mau tau apakah akhirnya happy apa enggak! Meskipun gue udah nebak bahwa mereka (Naji dan Ananna) bakal jadian, tapi tetep aja gue pingin tau.  Males banget kalo akhirnya salah satu bakal mati.

Buku kedua...I have mixed feelings about this book.  And after I think about it, I have mixed feelings about this series. 

Buku dua, langsung melanjutkan cerita dari akhir buku pertama.  Hidup di pulau yang asing mulai menjadi hal yang lumrah dan kegiatan mereka pun kembali "normal".  Sampai kemudian muncul sesuatu yang baru.  Manticore.

Yup.  Manticore.

Entah kenapa, pas gue baca bahwa ada manticore, yang ada gue malah tertawa.  Oh God! Kayaknya reaksi yang salah banget.  Tapi suer, itu yang muncul.  Apa gue merasa bahwa keberadaan manticore sebagai sesuatu yang enggak banget di cerita ini? Well...at least gue enggak langsung tutup tuh buku, karena gue langsung lanjut baca.  Jadi paling enggak gue bisa menerima kehadiran itu manticore.  Mungkin, yang bikin gue tertawa adalah karena manticore-nya bicara dan kalimat yang keluar dari mulutnya tuh lucu, seperti dia enggak mau makan Ananna karena dia enggak makan human-girl (manticore-nya perempuan; tapi ternyata memang manticore hanya makan human-boy), tapi dia juga enggak mau makan Naji karena Naji kena kutukan jadi dagingnya bakal alot banget.  Hahaha...

Di ceritanya Percy Jackson, manticore nya begitu sadir.  Di sini, meskipun masih sadis sih, tapi terlihat jinak di persepsi gue.

Di buku dua ini, romance-nya cukup kenceng.  Maksudnya, Ananna mulai mengakui bahwa ia suka dengan Naji and she's in love with him.  Tapi apa daya, Naji rupanya antara belum menyadari perasaannya atau tidak bisa mengungkapakan perasaannya.  Dan ini yang bikin gue akhirnya membaca sampai abissss.

Untuk urusan romance yang satu ini, gue bersyukur karena hanya diceritakan dari sudut pandang Ananna, jadi gue (pembaca) enggak perlu tau soal perasaan dan pikiran Naji soal Ananna.  Karena kalo sampe iya, bisa mampus aja gue rasanya.

Overall, ini buku, sama seperti buku kedua, menarik untuk dibaca.  Pace-nya cepat, actionnya banyak dan menarik, tokoh-tokohnya semakin menarik, romance antara Ananna dan Naji juga makin seru.  Di buku dua ini sepertinya mereka selalu on the go dalam rangka usaha mematahkan kutukan Naji dan Ananna. Marjani, tokoh yang sudah muncul di buku pertama, kali ini kebagian porsi yang lebih besar dibandingkan buku pertama, lengkap dengan latar belakangnya serta romance-nya sendiri. 

Tapi...ini dia.  Sepanjang baca ini buku, gue bingung bukan main.  Pertama, gue enggak tau umur si Ananna.  Is she 16? 17? Or even 15? Baru di buku dua ketauan bahwa Ananna is 17.  Ok then.  Mungkin seharusnya gue bisa nebak umurnya, tapi dari tingkah lakunya, gue perkirakan she's only 16.  Bagaimana dia tiba-tiba memutuskan untuk kabur begitu aja, tanpa ada persiapan, membuat gue berpikir bahwa Ananna is reckless and impulsive.

Kedua, gue bingung dengan genre ini buku.  Bukan sesuatu yang penting sih, tapi yah gue penasaran aja.  Ini masuk kategori Young Adult atau Adult? Tapi kayaknya sih masuk kategori New Adult, yang menurut wikipedia merupakan genre baru, dimana sasaran pembacanya adalah usia 18-25 tahun.  

Gue enggak inget bagian mana, tapi gue merasakan adanya elemen-elemen cerita lain di buku ini.  Mungkin hal tersebut bukan sesuatu yang aneh, karena yah...sebegitu banyak cerita pastilah kita terpengaruh.  Ini enggak gitu pengaruh sih di gue, cuma ya itu, tiba-tiba kebayang adegan di buku a, atau adegan di buku b.  Yang pasti, gue teringat banget sama Prince of Persia pas baca buku ini hahaha...dengan gurun pasirnya, kemudian Naji sebagai assassin; kemudian blood magic jadi keinget sama Harry Potter (halah! jauh banget dah!), kalo soal bajak lautnya sih jelas-jelas kebayangnya Pirates of Caribbean hahaha.

Gue cuma menyayangkan, ceritanya kurang dibuat lebih...apa ya...lebih detail mungkin? Kurang kompleks menurut gue.  Petualangan mereka, Ananna dan Naji dkk dalam mematahkan kutukan kurang banyak (?).  Ada beberapa bagian yang menurut gue bisa diperdalam sebenernya, tapi mungkin inilah kelemahan sudut pandang orang pertama, kehidupan orang lain selain tokoh utama, jadi tidak bisa dieksplorasi lebih jauh.

Tapi gue enggak nyesel kok baca dan dengerin buku ini.  Menarik untuk dibaca dan gue menikmatinya.



Add (12 July 2013)
Just remembered something.  Seperti yang udah gue bilang, gue merasa cerita ini kurang mantap, karena adanya elemen-elemen lain dalam cerita ini.  Oke lah elemen-elemen ini dimasukkan untuk menambah keseruan dan menunjukkan fantasi di cerita ini, tapi kemudian, buat gue jatuhnya jadi enggak konsisten.  Di salah satu cerita, tiba-tiba muncul automaton.  Gue kaget dong.  Gue yang awalnya bingung mau meletakkan ini buku di genre apa (YA apa Adults apa NA) tiba-tiba harus menambahkan genre lain lagi, yaitu steampunk.

Steampunk gue udah pernah bahas di postingan sebelumnya.  Kalo baca review gue soal bukunya Gail Carriger Etiquette & Espionage, bakal tahu bahwa itu cerita genrenya steampunk.  Yang mengganggu gue di cerita The Assassin's Curse series ini adalah, itu automaton cuma muncul di bagian perang, selebihnya enggak ada.  Enggak ada tanda-tanda bahwa mesin mulai merambah daerah tersebut, enggak ada mesin-mesin yang mempermudah mereka berlayar dsb.  Semuanya masih jaman kuno, kecuali itu automaton yang memang mengejutkan.

Oke, mungkin automaton merupakan barang baru, merupakan barang "import" belum semua orang punya, tapi yah masak sih sampe sebegitunya? Apalagi automaton-nya itu dalam jumlah yang cukup banyak dan bukan dalam ukuran kecil.  

Ini memang hal kecil, hal yang enggak terlalu pentinglah.  Ada keterangan atau tidak soal itu automaton memang bukan hal yang penting, apalagi mengingat ini cerita dari sudut pandang orang pertama, jadi kan bisa aja si Ananna memang tidak tau menahu soal itu.  Tapi sekali lagi, kesannya jadi aneh aja.

Gue bener-bener berharap cerita ini punya lebih banyak keterangan, lebih banyak penjelasan, dan lebih banyak eksplorasi.  Tapi sekali lagi, sepertinya terpentok oleh cerita yang diambil dari sudut pandang orang pertama.

 


Please e-mail me directly if you have any question about things that I wrote in this blog at celotehze@yahoo.com