Most people know the film World War Z, but few people know it’s based on an audiobook. I’m not sure if “based” is the right word, because the only thing they have in common is the title. That’s right, even the zombies are different, in the audiobook they are not sprint machines, they are just typical slow zombies.
While the film follows the story of an American superhero saving the entire mankind, the audiobook takes a more realistic and credible approach to the zombie apocalypse. Here there was no Brad Pitt to save the day, so the entire world collapsed. The main plot takes place several years after the breakdown, and it follows Max Brooks, a journalist who travels the world recording testimonials of people who survived the zombie war. He interviews key elements from governments, armed forces, along with civilians and even children. The audiobook is a collection of this interviews, following the chronological order of the events.
I don’t care to much about audiobooks, and I thought World War Z was just another lame production for people who don’t like to read books. Nevertheless I decided to give it a try, and listened to just a couple of interviews. For the next several days I found myself rushing home just to listen to this audiobook. I would serve myself a glass of wine, roll some cigarettes, lay back on the couch, and spend hours listening to it. The featured voices are from real cinema actors, which helps adding credibility to the interviews. Forget about everything you have seen in films and series, all the facts stated in this audiobook have been thought to the tiniest detail, and if some day the zombie apocalypse really takes place, I’m sure everything will happen just like in this audiobook. It is THAT realistic.
Most of the interviews are from doctors or politicians, explaining how they first reacted to the outbreak, what impacts it had in societies and international relationships, how the governments had to manage resources, and how societies had to be organized to become self-sustainable. But then you have the civilian and military testimonials, and those are the ones that will keep you glued to your couch. The little girl who is dragged by her parents to north Canada, trying to use the cold as a defence, later finding themselves resorting to cannibalism to stay alive? You don’t see that in the film.
I can’t even imagine the disappointment of the original fans when they first saw the footage. There are so many memorable stories in the audiobook: the Irish mercenary who deserts his master for honourable reasons; the essential role dogs play during the war, and the high suicide rates of their trainers; the Battle of the Five Colleges, where a group of students turn their schools into strongholds, and hold their ground with improvised weapons; the Battle of Yonkers, which was suppose to be the first American offensive turns out to be a last stand for the troops in New York; the air force woman who crashes her plane and finds herself in shock, outgunned, and wounded, fighting through hordes of zombies to reach the extraction point on time; the mentally challenged girl who is saved by her aunt, while her mother was trying to choke her with her bare hands to prevent her from being eaten alive – I still feel the chills when I think about that interview. Actually, during my listening of World War Z, I lost the count of how many times I felt the chills running up my spine.
I don’t know why they decided to make the film the way they did. I mean, they could have made the story true to the audiobook if they wanted. Regarding this matter I’ll just cote a phrase told by a soldier during an interview, while explaining the reason for the military failure: “Don’t pull my pud with stories about budget cuts, the only thing in short supply was common fucking sense”.
Bottom line, the film sucks, the audiobook is a masterpiece. I highly recommend it.