expectdelays, April 09, 2008
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I had wanted a quick and easy read as a break from studying, so I suppose technically I was disappointed. I became engrossed in this story immediately. This isn't so much a monster story as a description of human civilization reacting to an inexorable and universal assault that threatens its continued existence.
Brooks' depiction of the early stages of the war is fascinating. The secrecy over the initial outbreaks, the many mechanisms enabling the contagion to spread quickly and internationally, the different responses, if any, by various governments, and the breakdown of order, infrastructure and society itself.
The structuring of the book as an oral history allows for diverse characters whose stories give the narrative a gripping immediacy and intimacy. This device also provides Brooks with an arena for writing some truly outstanding dialog. His characters come from around the globe and all walks of life, and Brooks manages to give them all a distinct persona based not only what they say but on how they say it. His portrayals display an enormous range of speech patterns, from the clipped, precisely ordered diction of a career military man and the and smug, defensive patter of a fabulously wealthy profiteer to the hesitant, halting speech of some of the deeply scarred survivors. Brooks also manages to provide a sense of the language underlying the speech of his many characters who use English as a second language. Brooks' use of dialog alone is a remarkable achievement.
As an oral history, this is of course a collection of survivor's stories. Brooks provides plenty of action and drama including last minute escapes and the fight to survive in a polluted, ravaged landscape. There are heroes and victims, brilliance and incompetence, nobility and depravity, determination and despair.
And lots of zombies.
A great read.