Quantcast
Latest Stories

REVIEW

The greatest zombie novel in the ‘World’

By

Now that horror and the creatures arising from that genre are all the rage, it’s a good opportunity to sift through the growing pile of available material and take note of the best books of the group.

Vampires staked their place at the top of the ladder but have now been overtaken by zombies. The buffet of zombie-related work is fairly new, ranging from the tongue-in-bloody-cheek “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” by Seth Grahame-Smith and, the greatest zombie book ever written, “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” by Max Brooks (Broadway Paperbacks, New York, 2006, 420 pages), now on the shelves in a movie tie-in edition.

That movie, directed by Marc Forster and starring Brad Pitt, just took a hefty chunk of cinemas last month and, as far as zombie movies go, is an action-packed, modern, worldwide look at what damage zombies can do. It’s also just the leftovers from the masterful meal that is the book.

“World War Z” isn’t even Brooks’ first zombie book. Taking note of how zombies were dominating the zeitgeist, the former “Saturday Night Live” writer wrote “The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead” in 2003. A satirical updating of zombie myths, the book was a bestseller, but it was Brooks’ next book, 2006’s “World War Z,” that really left a serious bite mark on readers.

Bright idea

Instead of taking the humorous route, Brooks wrote the most serious, most realistic novel about zombies he could imagine. He imagined zombies as the result of a virus that, with the speed of modern travel and the state of global politics, would spread faster than imagine. With “World War Z,” Brooks dared to imagine zombies as something real and immediate.

His bright idea was to write “World War Z” not with a single protagonist or narrator, but a disjointed series of reports from around the world from the beginning to the zombie plague to the end, covering some 10 years, and in the process imagining how the plague would affect different countries from communist China to New Jersey, from Japan to Antarctica. In every place, a different voice but the same threat.

“‘Zombie’ remains a devastating word, unrivaled in its power to conjure up so many memories or emotions, and it is these memories and emotions that are the subject of this book,” says the narrator.

There is no Pitt-played Gerry Lane character, though the “World War Z” researcher who ostensibly put the report together also works for the United Nations, albeit the UN Postwar Commission. That’s also why the novel reads more like reportage than fiction. If the zombies attacked, this is exactly how the reports would read.

Ingenious structures

It is precisely the novel’s ingenious structure that makes it resistant to generic movie-making, thus the resultant film is a very conventional slice of “World War Z,” sharing really only the title and a few superficial references.

There is no insect-hive-mind zombie intelligence at work here. In this case, the book is so much better. Instead of using zombies as a stand-in for human weakness, it is the humans themselves who make the book so compelling.

After governments with their own agendas fail to stop the spread of the virus, their old-fashioned ways of war fail to curb the apocalypse and bring humanity to the brink of extinction. It is then that “World War Z” finds its final act, when humans must find a way to save themselves, in the most modern manner.

Now on top of the food chain, zombies have now permanently risen to their place in pop culture, so that there is a best zombie movie (George Romero’s 1968 “Night of the Living Dead”) and the best comic book and TV show (the dynamically dead dual title held by Robert Kirkman’s “The Walking Dead”). Add to that shambling set the best zombie novel ever written, Max Brooks’ “World War Z,” a book so bleak it’s brilliant, and now resurrected in paperback form in time for a movie that it eats alive in every possible way.

Available in paperback at National Book Store.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Books , Lifestyle , Max Brooks , Novels , World War Z

  • catmanjohn

    Let us hope that Life will never imitate Art, as in this particular case, but after reading ‘The Hot Zone’, there is a possibility of such a catastrophe, where Life could be even more horrific than Art. The fourth filo virus which is the least well known, called the Reston Virus, should actually be renamed the ‘Mindanao X’, where it originated from, and not where it was discovered (Reston,Virginia). The virologist are deathly afraid that this virus, which is an airborne version of the Ebola, which only affects primates at its present form, but could mutate and become the killer pandemic of humans one day, as WWZ implies. All it needs is a catalyst protein to mutate with, and mankind’s greatest nightmare will come true. Now we have MERS, a virus with a 50% kill ratio, and with all the OFWs returning from Saudi Arabia, where it has been most prevalent, the setting of the stage for the next Black Death is being set. Compounded with the rains, and overflowing water borne diseases in a sewer system neglected by generations of corrupt politicians, a place like Manila is ripe for this Judgement Day. The ‘zombification’ would start of with an intense fever, high enough to fry one’s ‘brains and any sense of reasoning. Then the bleeding would begin from eyes and pores, which is not a pretty sight. The carriers of this Reston Virus will most likely be from either bats or monkeys, although pigs could be transmitters as well. Awareness is the first line of defense, cleanliness the second, and immediate action the third. Let’s hope this virus from Mindanao will stay dormant forever.



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  3. Palawan favorite getaway of show biz celebrities
  4. Fashionistas flock to designer’s wedding
  5. Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  6. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  7. A tale of two Priscillas: my mother Prissy and Chona Recto Kasten
  8. This is not just a farm
  9. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  10. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  1. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  4. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  5. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  6. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  7. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  8. Prince William fuels speculation of second royal baby
  9. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  10. This is not just a farm
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?

News

  • 2 teenagers killed in Mlang, North Cotabato
  • No sympathy from North Korea over ferry disaster
  • 4 French journalists freed from Syria captors home
  • De Lima on Gigi Reyes: Let’s wait and see
  • South Korean relatives divided over whether to raise ferry
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao courtesy call to Aquino set for Monday
  • Nick Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk
  • Teague scores 28 as Hawks soar past Pacers in Game 1
  • Warriors beat Clippers in playoff opener
  • Pacquiao top Mayweather contender
  • Lifestyle

  • Britain’s baby Prince George visits Australian zoo
  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  • Entertainment

  • Show-biz celebrities’ other choices of summer getaway
  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Filipinos in US poised for success
  • Visas for priests and other faith leaders
  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
    Marketplace