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.

2 comments:

Ditogendut said...

"is there another book about zombie?" ermahgherd, Ze, where HAVE you been? Bhuanyak kali buku yang temanya zombie. Dan gak cuman zombie biasa, elu mau zombie yang crossbreed sama vampire ada, crossbreed sama werewolf ada, zombie vs makhluk2 itu juga ada. Ckckck... Your question is just like if I were to ask "are there any other books about wizards?". Somebody bound to smack my head with Knights of the Round Table book. Or worse: with a history book. LOL

Tapi emang bagus kan ya? Gue sih tertariknya karena kesannya jadi kaya baca cerpen. Well, emang benang merahnya ada, yaitu soal Zombie War, tapi tiap-tiap wawancara tuh kaya baca cerita-cerita yang terpisah-pisah. Meskipun kalau kita baca mencar-mencar gitu pasti di akhirnya kita bingung sendiri. Hehehe...

Btw, Hunger Games bukannya tidak membahas soal dystopia, tapi tidak sepenuhnya membahas dystopia-nya. Menurut gue sih buku itu nyawanya ya ada di relationship Peeta-Katniss-Gale. Dytopia itu cuman jadi latar doang. Yah bayangin elu bikin cerita dengan latar kutub selatan lah, itu kan dystopia berat sampe tokoh lo bakal cuman ditemenin sama penguin, anjing laut, orca, dll makhluk2 itu, tapi elu gak ngebahas soal kutub selatannya, melainkan membahas soal tokohnya dan relationship dia. Tapi sebenernya cerita-cerita dystopia gitu sebenernya sama semua sih. Hampir gak ada yang konsen membahas dystopia-nya tapi lebih ke interaksi tokoh-tokohnya. Kalau kita melupakan bahwa latarnya dystopia, trus diganti sama latar Kota Bogor gitu, dan Hunger Games-nya diganti sama SNMPTN dimana yang menang keterima di IPB dan yang kalah terpaksa kuliah di kampus yang status akreditasinya "terdengar" (bukan tercatat, diakui, atau disamakan), sementara Gale ceritanya keluarganya terlalu miskin untuk membiayai dia kuliah ya sebenernya sama aja jatohnya tuh cerita.

Kok gue malah bikin garis besar cerita ya? Oh well... Muahahaha...

Caroline Zenia said...

Hahahaha...ngerti kok soal dystopia...tapi tetep aja, terdengar dan terlihat terlalu depressed for me, berkesan susah banget untuk punya harapan akan hidup yang lebih baik. Tapi apa bedanya sama WWZ ini ya hahaha...oh well.

Soal another zombie book...gue gak ngomongin soal romance or cross-breed zombie, tapi yang mirip wwz ini...pasti ada lah ya...cuma gue aja yang gak perhatian.

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