World War Z by Max Brooks – Audiobook Review
World War Z: The Complete Edition (Movie Tie-in Edition): An Oral History of the Zombie War
Written by: Max Brooks
Narrated by: Max Brooks, Alan Alda, John Turturro, Rob Reiner, Mark Hamill, Alfred Molina, Simon Pegg, Henry Rollins, Martin Scorsese
Length: 12 hrs and 8 mins
Release Date: 05-14-13
Publisher: Random House Audio
Summary: World War Z is one of the best zombie apocalypse novels I’ve ever read. Its characters are ordinary people that happen to live in an interesting time. Those of them who lived trough the horror of the zombie war tell stories which will give you chills, but also show the good and bad in people. Despite its fictional nature this book is one of the best lessons one can learn about what really happens in a time of war. I’m not usually very fond of multiple narrator audiobooks but the performances from the cast in this updated edition fit very well with the story and make it feel so much more realistic.
It seems there’s some confusion about the multiple audio editions that are available – which is the unabridged one and now with this new movie-tie-in edition it got even more confusing. As far as I could figure things out, the reviewed audiobook is supposed to be based on the newest paper edition that’s being published with the movie. This means that unlike the abridged version, all the characters are here which is nice but there are still some parts left out. So I guess that makes it a semi-unabridged version? Anyway, on Audible where I got the audiobook from it says ‘unabridged’ so that’s what I’m going to call it.
To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of the zombie genre a few years ago but I guess there were fewer such books then and maybe they weren’t actually that good. When I got my hands on the original print version in 2006 I loved every page of it. I also got the first audiobook edition which was abridged and enjoyed it quite a bit, although it had kind of a cinematic feel, maybe because of the full cast or the abridgment, but still a solid listen. An unabridged audiobook would be much better of course, but there wasn’t one until now (if we agree that this one is indeed unabridged). Naturally, it was a no-brainer I’d buy it and after a few clicks it was downloading on my iPod. I listened to it hungrily and remembered everything I liked about the original. I may have enjoyed it even more.
The plot: The main character – Brooks, is an agent of the United Nations Postwar Commission and describes the history of ‘World War Z’ through a series of interviews with people from all around the world – China, America, Europe. These interviews feel so much like real accounts of a war that actually happened! Those are just ordinary people of all walks of life – soldiers, civilians, but definitely no superheroes. Still, they are all strong and inspiring individuals. Not just because they survived physically but because they managed to move on without losing their mind from all the death and destruction. Many weren’t capable of that. They all seem to have gained a kind of wisdom that comes with a great price, and it’s so fascinating to take it all in.
World War Z is one of the few post-apocalyptic novels that thoroughly explores a zombie infestation as a world-wide phenomenon. It’s a common theme in zombie fiction that the whole world is contaminated, but the story rarely shows it all. World War Z shows a truly global ‘all out’ war in which every nation, every individual are put to the test and pushed to their limit. It’s very interesting how different cultures and personalities react to the same threat and cope with a war that’s as much outside as inside of them. Now I see that the unabridged audiobook had less of that ‘global’ feel to it and the new one is the way it should be with more than 6 hours of new content.
Speaking of new, I’m thrilled with the amazing job the new cast did narrating the story. We have all sorts of excellent actors well known from shows like The Walking Dead, Firefly, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, etc. There wasn’t a single bad performance in the whole thing!
Should you buy it? Short answer – hell, yeah! This is a must-buy for all the fans of zombie fiction and horror. Even if you’ve read or listened some other previously released version, I assure you this is the one to get! The original abridged edition won an Audie Award so I’m quite confident this one is going to be even more successful.
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