Inkling Book Review: World War Z

A couple of years ago, I saw the film adaptation of World War Z. I didn’t read the book before watching the movie, so I didn’t go into the theater with the mindset of scrupulously spotting major differences between the novel and what was going on in front of me (which is a habit I have with most movies based on books). As an action-Hollywood extravaganza centered around a zombie apocalypse, I thought it was enjoyable. A lot of what transpired felt pretty outlandish and over-the-top, but that has usually been the case with most zombie movies that I’ve watched in the past.


But after reading the novel by Max Brooks, my liking towards the movie has soured a little bit. Aside from the title, they share absolutely no similarities at all. The major difference that sets them apart from each other was that the movie primarily followed Brad Pitt throughout the duration of the movie, while the novel explores it’s story through interviews with numerous survivors from around the globe regarding their personal experiences with the zombie outbreak; it has a more “worldly” feel to it. I liked how the book allowed me to get immersed in the vignettes of a wide array of characters because it did make me realize that some nations (even though the likelihood is slim) probably would handle a zombie outbreak in various different ways when you think about a countries’ geographic proximity, how the government is ran, and other factors that we might not even be fully aware of.

Image converted using ifftoany
I’m disappointed that the Battle of Yonkers was left out of the movie.

As I visually imagined the novel while reading, it felt more like a documentary with occasional moments of found footage. The movie on the other hand was a more run-of-the-mill action flick. While I still enjoy the movie when thinking about it in retrospect and may still occasionally revisit it every now and then, I do kind of wonder if it was the right format to tell this story. The movie was delayed frequently before it’s theatrical release, so I do kind of have the impression that a lot of compromises and alterations were made in order to get the studio’s approval to get greenlit for a wider audience. If it ever does get remade in the future, I hope it gets a short-series adaptation on HBO or Netflix.


All in all, I really enjoyed World War Z. It paints an interesting hypothetical perspective on how some countries from around the globe would deal with a real-world catastrophe or epidemic that could bring humanity to a tipping point. In addition, the novel also made me realize that some mediums are sometimes better suited to telling a story than others. If you enjoy stories that include zombies or social commentary regarding worldly affairs from a multitude of different perspectives, I’d highly recommend this book.



3 thoughts on “Inkling Book Review: World War Z

  1. Yeah, I read the book before watching the film, and I was quite surprised how different they were.

    That said though, I think the film worked in its own right – but it’s more like it’s focusing on one of the (more action-ey) story strands in the book, rather than the whole book. I also think the book is well suited to a HBO type series, and given all the different perspectives and locations, it’d be a great way to cover it all in more depth – and do justice to the original narrative, which was actually quite an original take on the Zombie Apocalypse idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review!. I read the book a few years back and I really like the comparison you make of it being more of a documentary with the occasional found footage. That really is a very good description for it. The book really captured the imagination …the movie was just a more simple and pretty generic action flick. It had it’s moments, but overall it was a bit of a disappointment. Well, maybe the sequel will be better 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I did this in the reverse order, but I had heard about the movie before reading the book. My thought was “How are they going to work Brad Pitt into all these vignettes?”

    So, yeah. The book’s format was never going to be adapted into a Hollywood movie, but I enjoyed it a lot more than the film. Following the separate threads throughout the book made it fun when they picked up again later on, and the staggered timeline was an interesting choice in painting the narrative in the reader’s mind.

    One thing I really liked about Brook’s idea was in showing how the different global situations influenced the effect and response to the outbreak. Eg: Of course the South African guy figured out a systematic evacuation/containment plan.

    Liked by 1 person

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