Thursday, 7 November 2013

World War Z by Max Brooks

It goes by many names: “The Crisis,” “The Dark Years,” “The Walking Plague,” as well as newer and more “hip” titles such as “World War Z” or “Z War One.”

This begins the introduction. The next section, I assume is chapter one and begins like this:

[At its prewar height, this region boasted a population of over thirty-five million people. Now, there are barely fifty thousand...

The first outbreak I saw was in a remote village that officially had no name.

So, what we have here is a nonfiction feel to fiction; apparently, to make the story world feel more authentic  But as it sounds like a textbook, I'm losing interest, and am getting nasty high school flashbacks.

Unfortunately, with that nonfiction feel, comes an opening that is all telling, which most creative writing experts will tell you is a bad thing to do and a leading excuse for literary agents or editors to reject material by just doing a quick scan of submitted work.They love it - no need to read anything, and it saves lots of time. Plus, they get to say, "Hey, this tells and doesn't show!" So they get to sound like experts when they reject, should they even take the time.

However, with this story, I can't see it any other way - it needs to begin with telling. Just like Catcher in the Rye (though, for different reasons) and other genres where premise is a primary conflict as in dystopian. Certain genres (and first person narratives) sometimes work best with telling to start things off, and some stories are just meant to be that way. This is one. Plus, this telling reveals the narrative character.

The only conflict in this beginning is that there is a zombie war, which is conflict of the person vs. society type. For some, that's more than enough. However, it isn't enough to hook me, as I'm not the zombie type of guy. If it was a world war against a legion of creepy little Asian girls with long black hair hiding their faces all called Samara and Sadako, then I might read on.

In other words, this opening will hook if you're interested in zombies; if not, it offers little else.

First thing said:


Verdict: Pass (barely)

Theodore Moracht

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