As a complete and total sucker for pretty much anything zombie-related, World War Z had instant appeal. I started into the book just before Christmas and was pretty much instantly disappointed. The story revolves around a reporter who travels around the world in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse to record this moment in human/zombie history for futurity. What comes of this is a series of dis-jointed stories, none of which tie into a narrative whole. Just as Brooks builds a likeable--or dis-likable--character, we are moved on to a new place with new tales of terror. The character is never written about again. The war story is just that, a war tale travel narrative. Brooks seems totally unable to really grasp the tropes available to the zombie genre, so let me elucidate. The zombie genre has specific--and I might argue--essential elements: First and foremost, it's a tale based around people, most often a small group struggling to survive. It is narrative centered, not disjointed. People must die, and most often that must consist of a zombie bite that is hidden and found too late or a random accident. Blood, and plenty of it, is necessity. Tension is the essential element of the zombie genre, impending, relentless doom in the face of insurmoutable shuffling movement. Genre test #1: Brooks fails.
The second element of the genre is a sense by the writer, and sometimes the characters themselves, of the satire, humor, and utter ridiculousness involved. Even in the face of utter death, characters must snicker a little. Brooks, in World War Z, displays a sense of self-important earnestness that totally falls flat. The book takes itself so seriously that there were times when the reader starts seeing satire where it obviously wasn't intended. Read: have you ever laughed at a horror scene that was obviously intended to scare you? [Go watch and old Jason movie and try not to chuckle--it doesn't hold up well.]