Tuesday, June 17, 2008

World War Z

I am not a fan of zombies. For my money, vampires and werewolves are far superior bad guys. As a rule, they are faster, stronger and more intelligent which makes them very challenging villains. Zombies on the other hand are usually depicted as slow moving, smelly, un-intellegent creatures whom you could easily escape so long as you were wearing a good pair of sneakers and walking briskly in the opposite direction.

The only scary zombie movie ever made was the post-apocalyptic horror film "28 Days Later" (2002). The zombies were unintelligent (just like the undead you've come to expect) but unlike their previous incarnations these guys were much quicker on their feet. You couldn't call them the walking-dead, they were more like the Olympic sprinting-dead and the cut-frame technique the director used gave them an other-wordly jerkiness that really pumped up the terror-volume up a few notches.

So, I wasn't really excited when a friend handed me "World War Z" a book by Max Brooks detailing the first hand accounts of a world wide zombie epidemic that left 600 million dead. However, I didn't have anything next to my night-stand so I was glad for a bit of distraction. Still, I suspected a book about zombies would be as interesting as reading a transcript of the US Open golf tournament.

I'm into it a few chapters now, and I have to admit I was very mistaken. Once again the New York Times Best Seller badge proves itself a excellent bellwether.

The book is less about creatures freshly returned from the grave than it is a social commentary about how the political world works. Instead of following the tried and true theme of the horror genre, this effort moves easily into the realm of science fiction where safe and critical social commentary has traditionally been it's bread and butter.

The book is a string of interviews with characters who played a part in WWZ such as the entrepreneur who knowingly sold ineffectual zombie-vaccines to the world and reaped massive profits while doing it. There is an interview with the ex-White house press secretary who minimized the threat until it was too late, (now ironically shoveling shit into a bio-fuel reactor). The book works in a way that makes you want to turn the pages, to discover how this apocalypse happened and how it could have been prevented.

As we progress in the book, we come to realize the reasons for the catastrophe was not unlike the reasons for any preventable catastrophe. Given the heinous and recognizable nature of some of the survivors who are interviewed, the reader may wish the zombies were more discriminating in their eating habits.

Bon Appetit!

1 comment:

Goofasutra said...

Spoiler Alert!!