Author: Max Brooks
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
I read this novel at the recommendation of a work colleague of mine, but I did not expect much from it. The trailer for the movie looked absolutely ridiculous, and it was only when I had the opportunity to watch the movie for free after it was released on DVD did I even watch the movie. While nothing special, I will admit the movie was better than what I had expected for it, so when my friend mentioned I should give the novel a try I took his word on it.
It takes less than 15 pages to realize that the movie and the novel share almost no similarities except for title and the basic theme of zombies. The novel, told through several interviews transcribed onto paper, is hardly a great writing style to translate to film, which is probably why the similarities between the two are hard to see apart from some of the same events taking place in both. To be honest, the book was much more fascinating than the movie; if I had read the novel before seeing the movie, I doubt I would have enjoyed the movie at all.
While I typically prefer to have my novel written in traditional prose, I have to say that Brooks managed to pull off the novel with a set of transcribed interviews. The fact that the novel spans several years, covering many different important events of the war told from several perspectives of several unique people made it that much more fascinating. I found myself texting my colleague throughout my read through to compare our favorite interviews/stories and discuss which events we liked the most (his favorite was the female Air Force pilot that went down; mine was either the astronaut on the ISS or the girl who traveled as far north into Canada as possible with her mother and father). For a world war, the novel almost had to be told in this style, especially since the events spanned such a long time frame. The fact that we got to see how different countries and different people dealt with the issue of the rising dead was what made the novel so fascinating.
I am usually someone who needs instant gratification when it comes to the endings of novels, but with this novel, the ending almost has to be left open ended. The war with the zombies, while perhaps resolved, it far from over, thus it only makes sense to have the ending of the novel open ended as well.
While probably not a novel I would read again, it is definitely a novel worth reading once.