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Every year, as fall begins and Halloween approaches, readers look for amusing, exciting, horror filled books, which prepare them for the season’s festivities.  Surrounded by the autumnal decorations and food, they find themselves delving into dark and eerie books. Max Brooks’ zombie-apocalypse story, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, is widely known due to the popular release of the novel in 2006 and the film, starring Brad Pitt, in 2013. The title and subject matter are intriguing and this reader wants to know if Brooks’ story and his writing live up to the high expectations she has, based on the success of both novel and film. Many aspects of the plot, which Brooks conveys by an interviewer narrator conducting a series of discussions with survivors of the Zombie War, promise to evolve into fresh and compelling concepts, still remain stunted. The author’s is prose lacks organization and his methods of communication are disconcerting and confusing, which negatively affects the reader’s experience. On page 191, short of finishing by over 100 pages, she stops reading. She wonders if she expects the text to be something it’s not, or if she is justified in disliking its presentation and feeling there is something missing.

Brooks struggles to execute a relatable and well-planned narrative in his delivery of the story as a series of interviews, which makes it hard for the reader to stay involved and interested. The reader notes that the fragmented writing with absent information might be the product of deliberate literary license. It is possible the author thoughtfully and purposefully writes in a journalistic style, which divides the reader from insight and information provided by a chapter novel. Without the presence, knowledge, and engagement of a typical narrator, the author holds the reader at a distance, alienated and uncomfortable with characters and events. Brooks fails to attach the reader to his ideas, thus she is disconnected from the story. His choppy format and presentation are a route for an inexperienced writer struggling with organization. The novel longs for a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocalyptic_and_post-apocalyptic_fictioncombination of Brooks’ smart stylistic ideas and more structure to establish a much needed balance.

The origins of themes and subject matter with the potential to entertain and captivate fall short, and the reader is always disengaged and waiting for more character and plot development. There are too many fruitful ideas or undeveloped storylines that the writer fails to connect. Brooks occupies the reader with details about how the virus is spread, politics, and survival techniques, yet the reader wants him to merge these concepts with character interviews to create a cohesive blend of his design. In the 191 pages this reader finishes of the text, she does not learn about any person the narrator interviews more than once, so pieces of interviews don’t fit together as a whole. Even though the reader surmises that each character shares the same overall experience as a survivor, she is left thinking the author leaves something out. Brooks lets the reader to imagine outcomes based on the the disordered information he presents, so she gets tired of waiting for something more and decides not to finish the book.

It seems that the novel is famous more because people like horror stories with supernatural beings, than because it’s a great book. The topics help the novel maintain its popularity, but don’t expand enough to make the story truly new or creative. While this reader doesn’t like the structure or narrative because of it’s simplicity and lack of development, others might like it for these same reasons. Additionally, these qualities are the seedlings of a good block-buster film. No matter any single reader’s reception, Brooks finds a home in the post-apocalyptic genre as the author of with World War Z.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

More Information:

Film: World War Z (2013)