Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Zombie Survival Guide & World War Z reviews

I knew about the Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z for a while, but never got around to reading them (which is odd considering what a huge zombies fan I am). So I bought both of them and read them back to back. Well, technically, as it took me several months to finish the Zombie Survival Guide, but on the same day I started reading WWZ and finished it in a little over a week.

It is not to say that the Zombie Survival Guide was bad. In fact, it is a very good book. It really does feel like an authentic survival guide, which makes it a bit of a slow reading in places. I ended up being a bit bored and getting back to the book every few weeks only to abandon it again. But near the end it got really exciting and turned out to be worth sticking with. The result is a unique book unlike anything you have read before. The amount of research that went into it is amazing and while I’m not an expert in any of the covered areas, it felt real to me. The text is written with such conviction and consistency that the illusion simply works. As soon as I finished ZSG I went straight to World War Z.

If ZSG is a slow burner, WWZ is a fast paced page-turner. Dropping the survival guide format, WWZ is pure storytelling, collecting interviews with survivors from the war against the zombies. Each short story can almost be standalone, but together the stories paint a bigger picture, covering the war from the very beginning to the aftermath all over the world.

That is not to say that WWZ is not as well researched as ZSG. In fact, it covers such a massive scope that dwarfs ZSG almost out of existence. The story takes place all over the world, featuring characters from many different cultures and covering many aspects of the war. Here you might spot some small holes when the author covers areas you are familiar with, but those minor accuracies are forgivable all things considered. Not only because the author covers a scope that is virtually impossible to cover flawlessly by any one person, but also because even when you spot those flaws, the story keeps moving and urges you to carry on and just accept this reality. You want to believe it.

I will not go into any spoilers, but the scope is so big that I don’t think anything is left uncovered. I don’t know what is left for Max Brooks to write about in a third zombie book, but somehow I am sure he could think about something if he wanted to. I am a big fan and would love to see more.

Highly recommended. World War Z is the better book by a mile, but the Zombie Survival Guide is also a very good read. While it's not necessary to read both, they work better together by painting a bigger picture. Stick through the slower parts of ZSG and you won’t regret it.



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