Audiobook Review: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

I read World War Z many years ago when a friend lent it to me and I enjoyed it a lot. What’s not to love about a zombie apocalypse? Two years ago when I first started listening to audio books several people recommended I pick up the full cast recording of WWZ, especially after I complained about being so disappointed with the film adaptation. So when it was on sale I picked it up. And I just now, a year later, finally got around to listening to it. (Yes, I have an audio book TBR pile as well.)

From Goodreads:


Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.


World War Z is presented as a series of interviews that a chronicler collected originally as part of a government report after the war against the un-dead was mostly contained. These interviews were too personal and so they were published as a book instead. Because of this the format of the story is a frame with the interviewer and many smaller stories being told by the interviewees. The chronicle does start at the beginning of things as it’s, well, presented in chronological order. This helps to create an overall picture of how things went down. The format makes the book a bit easier to digest as it’s akin to reading many short stories rather than one long novel. You can take breaks, read it in chunks, all without losing much. This does, however, also have the same pitfall as collection of shorts in that some of the stories will be more interesting than others.

The stories take place all over the world. When I first read this book I really loved a lot of the stories, but this time through some of them, even though I still liked them a lot, felt like they were built around stereotypes of some cultures (for instance, the Japanese otaku character). Still, many of the stories still resonated with me, especially those that were particularly cynical. And many of them are very cynical, especially those dealing with government agencies, the media, the healthcare industry…. But there are stories that are more hopeful in nature as well. Overall it’s a good mix of tales that make up the whole story, everything from everyday civilians to professional soldiers’ stories have made their way into the book.

As far as the audio book, the full cast version really does boast a huge cast. There are many, many actors and voice actors, narrators, etc that voiced characters in World War Z. Some of the narrators are better than others. I can’t vouch for all of the accents that I’m not familiar with, but of the few that I am–some were okay, some were a bit cringe-worthy. Overall, listening to the book feels like a globe trotting experience. I especially loved that each character had its own voice actor. That really helped make it seem as if it were a real chronicle, a documentary of a time when humanity almost lost itself to the un-dead and had to battle their way back.

If you like audio books and  you haven’t read World War Z, I highly recommend picking up the full cast recording and giving it a listen. 3/5 stars.

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