This book is predicated upon showing the human element during the world’s war effort against the undead. It’s something specifically stated at the very beginning of the novel. Why this book fails is because it is a novel trying to accomplish a retelling of the war through stories, which, functionally-speaking, works quite well. “I’m sold” on the idea, so to speak. Regarding this supposed “human element,” yes, I realize we’re getting a myriad of stories from various people from around the globe, but this sort of works against itself when the quality vs. quantity phenomena is in effect.
What we have are hundreds of stories giving their personal experience of World War Z, ranging from the very beginning stages, to The Great Panic, to Turning the Tide, and beyond. However, because we’re constantly shifting prospective, countries, and placement in political and social standing, we, as readers, never become invested in any of these “characters.” There’s also the added degree of difficulty the author sets for himself by having so many different locales, and therefore, cultural shifts throughout the book. I thought this would be a demand that author would rise to in order to create authenticity. Brooks, however, ignores country and continent. There is never a language barrier or a scent of broken English. The general in Japan sounds exactly the same as the Russian nurse and they sound just like the American corporal. It’s lazy writing, and blatantly so.
Had Brooks spent half as much time on the cultural traits as he had the military jargon, he’d have a much better end product. At least this way, I’d have felt like I’d seen the world instead of simply told “this is [insert foreign country] but I’m going to Americanize it for you.”
World War Z gets it’s main point across: the war. I know what happened, how it happened, and how it ended. The problem is how that information was given to me, this sort of convoluted round-robin of interviews and stories. Brooks lets each of these interviews go on with very little interruption from the guy with the tape recorder, and with each of them being a crap shoot of good or not good or great or flat-out boring, the pacing can really mess with you knowing it’s ups and downs for 300+ pages.
This is the kind of novel that gives you the big picture through a series of pictures, and when you’re finally done, you might feel as if some of those photos could have been deleted. They either didn’t add to the story or served as a way of relaying military info that the author didn’t have the good sense to cut.
To anyone who has read this, I ask: How much better could this novel had been with the same story, and around six or seven MAIN characters?
Bottom line: a great idea that truly sells me on the idea of waging war against the undead, however, the execution of “the human element” is DOA.
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