This month I’ve decided to have a Halloween celebration as it is my favorite holiday. I will be doing a review once a week through the month of October with each book being a horror book of some sort with a special, never before done here (by me at least), book review of an anthology.
My choice for this week is a unique story in how it is constructed. It is soon to be a movie starring Brad Pitt. I’m undecided if that’s good or bad. The author, Max Brooks, would appear to be the literary successor to George Romero.
“World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” by Max Brooks takes itself seriously right from the Introduction to the last page. The book is put together as a collection of personal interviews conducted while compiling a report for the U.S. Government in the aftermath of the “Zombie War” or as it is more familiarly known, “World War Z.” As the Introduction says, these personal accounts were removed from the report which as supposed to be completely objective. For the purposes of this review, it is important to distinguish between the author of the book, and the author of the report. I’ll refer to the author of the report as the “reporter” and the author of the book as “author.”
Let’s look at the structure of the book as a whole. Only eight chapter comprise the book , but each chapter is also broken down into several sections, each section being a separate interview the reporter has conducted, with the subject of the interviews directly related to the chapter topic. The sections indicate the location of the interview, the person being interviewed, and some background on the person or event referenced.
Well, with all out of the way, let’s look at the book from a literary standpoint. Brooks has done a masterful job of combining these sections into a coherent story. At first glance, it would appear the book does not follow a typical story structure such as Freytag’s Pyramid, three act structure, et. al. Even so, if one looks at the chapters themselves, instead of the small individual sections, we can see the story does in fact follow Freytag’s Pyramid!
Another major point to look at in this book is the absence of a defined protagonist. The antagonist is quite evident: the zombies or the virus itself which creates the zombies. It could perhaps be argued the reporter is the protagonist. Only, the reporter does nothing more than observe and document personal accounts. The second argument could be that each individual interviewed is the protagonist as we have direct insight into every one of them. But, only a few individuals span the length of the book. I would posit the protagonist is actually the human race. Alive humans are the ones in conflict with the antagonist, the ones with hopes and fears, and the ones that are directly involved throughout each stage of Freytag’s Pyramid.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I felt the story overall was inventive, well written, and one that I would definitely recommend. I give this book five flags: four flags for the story itself, and the last flag for how well this unique story was put together.