Thursday, October 10, 2013

My last word on World War Z

Back in 2011 (pre-blogging years), I read World War Z by Max Brooks.  And it was the first step toward my total infatuation with zombie novels.

If you've never read WWZ, essentially it is written from Brooks' (fictional) perspective as if the zombie apocalypse has already happened, and now he is traveling around the world to get the testimonies of survivors.  Why did I 5-star it?  The novel has a tone that is so rational and well-detailed, I couldn't help but find myself thinking I was reading nonfiction at various points in the book.  Brooks creates a post-zombie world so chillingly realistic, you will find yourself sleeping with a baseball bat under your pillow by day's end.

After finishing the book, rumors were just ramping up that it was going to be made into a movie.  I was SO EXCITED.  How could anyone screw this up?  Zombies were MADE for Hollywood!

Then I saw the first trailer.

And wailed despondently.

For a while, I said I wasn't even going to watch the Brad Pitt movie adaptation.  I could tell from the trailer that it was a total abortion of the book's premise, and didn't want to bear witness to such an atrocity.  However, as with most things that I say I will never do (except read 50 Shades of Gray, I STILL WILL NEVER DO THAT), I watched it.  Last week, in fact.

So here's my last word on World War Z: book vs. movie.

In the movie, Brad Pitt stars as a former UN employee who is called upon to help stop the zombie apocalypse soon after it begins.  So yes, the very premise is different: we are in the midst of the zombie attack, not reporting from after it.  And Pitt's character is not wandering the world, gathering witness testimony, but instead is jet-setting around the world trying to find a cure for the zombie disease before humankind dies off.  There's lots of zombies and blood and death and screaming and zombies.  And more zombies.  (They're actually pretty terrifying zoms, I'll say that.)

In the end, my feeling was this: if I knew nothing about the book, the movie would have been pretty decent.  The zombies were scary, the action was good, the ending was kind of cool and I didn't see it coming.  Compared to the book: it's a totally different world, and my initial reaction was to be mad about that.  I can't stand when an author's work is obliterated after Hollywood buys the rights.

HOWEVER.  I can at least see why Hollywood made the changes that it did.  Having the movie take place during the apocalypse (vs after) is an obvious plus for the audience, because it's an excuse for non-stop action (vs flashbacks to the action, which is what the Brooks novel would require).  And making Pitt's character a bit more invested in the plot was necessary for a big-screen version as well.  They did at least attempt to have some vague connection to the novel, in the sense that Pitt's character travels the world and gets a lot of different perspectives on the outbreak (just for an entirely different reason than the novel did).  I appreciated the common theme there.

Final verdict?  As a movie, World War Z kept me entertained.  If I hadn't read the book, I would have loved it.  BUT, I did read the book, and even though I understand why Hollywood made the changes that it did, I still can't completely get over the fact that Brooks' work was basically dismantled.  (Are you kidding?  I can't handle it when the character's hair color is different in a movie vs a book, let alone the entire plot premise.)

Readers, what say you?  Have you both read and watched World War Z?  What did you think?  If you've only read it (or watched it), will you be seeking out the other version to compare?


  1. I haven't watched World War Z yet. Like you, I loved the realism of the book. I feel like a lot of books about zombies start in post-apocalyptic wastelands with a small band of survivors and by doing so, they miss out on the really interesting ideas presented here about how different countries would react to a zombie outbreak. I'm nervous to watch the movie because I suspect it will bother me too, but I don't think I'll be able to help myself either :)

    1. I agree!! This book takes such a different perspective on the whole thing, something that really puts you IN the outbreak, rather than after it. Can't wait to hear what you think if you do watch it!

  2. My husband got the movie and I sort of half watched it the other night. I agree that it would have been very difficult to make the original book into a movie, but it almost seems like they are two completely different stories!

    1. They definitely are. I see the similarities, but a completely different zombie book could have been written based on this movie!

  3. I read and really liked the book, which is why I haven't seen the movie...but maybe I should give it a shot. I just have to get my head right before going in!

    1. Yes, don't go in with lofty expectations! I think that was part of what saved it for me...I knew it was going to be totally different from the get-go.

  4. I have not seen the movie because I knew it was going to be so very different. I think I'm at a place now that I won't be horrified by the changes. I might just be ready to watch it and appreciate it for its own merit!

    1. I definitely needed some distance (time-wise) between reading and watching. If I had watched right after, I would have been SO upset!

  5. I haven't read the book or watched the movie :( Someday? Maybe?

    1. Ooooh you must!! :) The book especially, of course.

  6. I did not see the movie, but the book was so good I seriously kept explaining it to my husband like it was a documentary. I kept saying, so when the zombies blah blah, but I know it's not real. . .

    1. I did the same thing to my husband!! And then he got sick of it and ended up reading it himself (and loving it). Haha.

Imagination Designs