WORLD WAR Z: Audio Book Review

World War Z Audio Book Review
by Jason Lees,

WORLD WAR Z the AudioBook (Max Brooks)

I’m probably not alone when I say that I’m really looking forward to a big budget film version of Max Brooks’s WORLD WAR Z. I’m probably also not alone when I say I don’t have exceptionally high hopes on how good it will be. Facts are, for a story that’s as global as this, it will take piles and piles of cash to do it justice. The very nature of this apocalyptic tale would demand thousands of extras and a visual scale never done for a zombie flick, and let’s face it, a big budget movie needs to be mainstream enough to get its money back. And we all know what that means: PG-13.

And, yes, PG-13 horror can and does work. I’m a huge fan of THE SIXTH SENSE and THE OTHERS, but I don’t have much hope for a big ol’ nasty zombie chunkblower if it has to be geared for the after school special crowd. In a perfect world, yes, a big screen WORLD WAR Z would be awesome, but then again, in a perfect world, George Romero would’ve been able to make the big budget version of DAY OF THE DEAD that he wanted to. And his version of RESIDENT EVIL. And THE MUMMY.
Okay, I digress.

So, with my feet firmly planted in reality, I want to steer you to the next best thing for Brooks fans, and that’s the audiobook version of WORLD WAR Z. Hey, I’m with you when you say that audiobooks are for lazy mouthbreathers who can’t be bothered to actually read. (please bear with me, I’m trying to be ironic) For me, audiobooks were just for long drives or whatnot. I’d much rather read the book than have it read to me. Maybe that’s the result of a non-affectionate childhood, but I’d never seen the point of the book-on-tape craze. Until now, that is.

World War Z Concept art and audio book review

The Random House release of "WORLD WAR Z" isn’t just a book being read by an actor, it’s like a full on radio production of the story. The format of the book is such that it lends itself easily to this translation. In the novel, Brooks writes first person as a reporter who is recapping the events of the zombie war, its origins, and how humanity came back from the brink of destruction. It parallels current world strife without being too heavyhanded, and even elicits some genuine spine tingling fears. Not bad for a guy known for comedy. You can tell Brooks’s heart is in the right place. His love of the genre is present on every page, and also in every second of the CD.

Here, we get more than just a retelling of the book. We get actors fully realizing their roles as they’re being interviewed by Brooks. It’s effective how Brooks plays the lead here (the part supposedly being prepped for Brad Pitt to play) as he interviews and records the accounts of survivors and world leaders. There are surprises and gross outs, but all the while, there’s a heart and an appreciation of the human desire to endure that’s sadly just not present in that much zombie fiction. Here, it’s the rule rather than the exception.
This is quality work, not just a cheap attempt to get a few extra bucks from those of us who already own the book. The audiobook stands on its own as a legit bit of zombie literature. On the shelves with all the Zombie Survival Guide knock offs, I’m afraid that it gets a little lost, but it’s probably the best thing we’re going to see (or hear) on the subject anytime soon.

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