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.
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.