World War Z: True Zombies

I really liked reading World War Z. This novel was completely different than anything I had ever read before in horror fiction, or any other genre for that matter. The premise for the novel is that this is a collection of interviews from people all over the world about their experiences during the zombie apocalypse.  So, while we don’t really know much about the man doing the interviewing, that’s okay. We are told the story of this long war by stringing together all of these smaller short stories. And while we weren’t given one main character, we are still invested in the novel as a whole because our protagonist is not one person but all of humanity and that worked for me.

The depictions of these zombies were definitely what I would call true zombies. The slow, rambling dead that use their sheer numbers to overwhelm their prey. If you are bit, you turn into one of them. You have to sever the nervous system to kill them. All of these traits are what I think of when I think zombies. Not the craziness that we see in modern representations of fast movie zombies that you can kill with a bullet to the chest. No. True zombies. And I appreciated that.

And in this instance the zombies were monstrous because they are everywhere. We’re not focused on one character in a house or something. We don’t have the hope that if we can just escape, then we’ll find somewhere where there are no zombies. These zombies are everywhere and that is what gives them the most horror. No matter how far you run, except Antarctica, there will be zombies. And they will keep coming whether you are awake or asleep. And the fact that if you kill one of them there will be one less but if they kill one of you, there will be one more of them is a horrible way to fight a war.

I could go on and on about the things that I liked in this book and that were done well but I feel like I should talk about some thing that didn’t work. For me, it got really long about midway through the book. It just seemed to keep going on and on about similar experiences with no end in sight. This made it very tedious to read. However, I understand why it was done like that. This war seemed to be going on and on for those trying to survive. They were going day by day with no end in sight. So in a way, it made sense for it to get a little laborious to read. It definitely connected me a bit more. Aesthetically though, I could have used it going a bit quicker.

So what was my favorite interview in the novel? Definitely the interview with Darnell Hackworth. This interview comes at the end and is about the K-9 units used during the war. They trained dogs to scout out areas and to lure zombies into combat on the military’s terms. While there were certainly casualties, which was said to hear about, this unit was pretty successful. And that came from the amount of specialization that the dogs had. Larger dogs, like rottweilers and mastiffs, were used as body guards and fighters not only against zombies but also against rabid dogs. Smaller dogs, like dachshunds and minpins were used as the scouts in urban areas because they could fit through all the tight spaces. It was really interesting just imagining these dogs working in tandem to effectively complete missions. I just thought it was cool.

If it wasn’t obvious already, I really enjoyed this book. Because of its unique writing style, I am hesitant to watch the movie that recently came out. If anyone reads this and has seen the movie, I would appreciate some reviews of the movie and a yay or nay on whether or not to watch it.

7 thoughts on “World War Z: True Zombies

  1. I don’t think I mentioned it among my favorites, but I really liked the K-9 interview, too. I thought it was an interesting idea, and I also really liked the connection between the soldiers and their dogs–their partners, since it was made clear the dogs were more than just animals to them.

    I haven’t seen the movie, but the general impression I have is that it doesn’t have much in common with the book.

  2. Amen to your comments on the K-9 unit interview. That was easily my favorite part as well, I really liked how believable it seemed and all the little details, like weeding out the dogs who got scared of the zombies as puppies.

  3. I loved that story about the dogs, easily one of my favorites. As for the movie, it’s not bad. It really has almost nothing to do with the book, so if you go into it just expecting a zombie movie and not looking for any of the characters from the book, you’ll be okay. I actually kind of liked how they came up with their “solution” at the end. That’s all I’ll say.

  4. Loved the K-9 unit! Stealth daschunds for the win!

    But I agree that it gets tedious halfway through. I appreciate your remark that that mirrored the length of the war, however.

  5. I too appreciated the traditional, slow moving Zombies who overwhelmed by numbers (and assimilation). I didn’t have a problem with the middle of the book–but I read it the same way I would have a similar book of non-fiction. In other words, I put it down periodically and read something else, then went back to it. I think, with the number of comments about the middle dragging, this could be a problem with the docufiction format, especially for readers expecting a fast-paced zombie war novel (although I really like your equating it with the endlessness of the war).

  6. I also like your interpretation of the tediousness of the middle mirroring the tediousness of the war. It was nice to read about a monster in its tried and true incarnation–while it’s interesting to see how different monsters are interpreted by different writers, it’s nice to go back to something familiar.

  7. I like how the book addressed the impact on animals in general, I usually miss that in other zombie stories. In WWZ they talked about the canine units, and how the birds would flee when zombies were near, the effects on feral pet populations, and even how that one zombie tried to dig out that little sand mole for three days.

    And poor whales. The world’s gonna be an ecological nightmare long after the zombies are taken care of.

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