Posts Tagged ‘World War Z

15
May
17

Part X-Files and part World War Z? Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter. CBR9 Review 31.

UnknownMy local bookstore is really great about making recommendations for books I may otherwise have never known about. (You may remember, this was how I discovered Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle.) There’s nothing better than popping by the store and checking out what’s new and which employees have left rave reviews for titles and authors I might enjoy.

When I dropped by last Friday, I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular. But when I started to browse the SciFic/Fantasy section, I saw a book with a note attached that said “LIKE A CROSS BETWEEN THE X-FILES AND WORLD WAR Z (NOT THE MOVIE)”.  I was intrigued, for sure. And then I saw the blurb on the cover was a quote from none other than Pierce Brown, so I just knew I had to buy it.

I tore threw this thing in record time and I worshipped every last page. Yes, the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are mixed. But this book was totally in my wheelhouse and did not disappoint me for a second.

It starts off with a mysterious incident: a young girl named Rose goes for a bike ride in the woods near her home in Deadwood, SD. The next thing she knows, she is lying in the palm of a gigantic (over 20 feet from wrist to finger) metal hand, in a very deep hole, looking up at her father and a team of fire fighters.

Rose grows up to become a scientist, and is charged with attempting to figure out the mystery of her metal hand. Who built it? How old is it? What is it made out of? What’s its purpose? And are there more pieces like it out there?

Slowly, but surely, Rose and her team of military specialists, scientists, and other academics find other pieces that fit together to create a giant woman. Rose guesses that this woman was built at least 3,000 years ago…meaning that it was not created by any known civilization on earth. But what is the robot woman for? Is it a statue? Is it a weapon?

The story is told in snippets of interviews, log entries, and recorded conversations with an un-named, unknown man, quite reminiscent of the CSM from the X-Files. He knows things, he isn’t going to tell you how he knows them, and he wants you to get the job done, no questions asked.

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But unlike CSM, this unknown narrator eventually starts to care a bit about the people involved in this mystery. Yes, he does some absolutely abhorrent things (um, the leg surgery part was really a bit much), but in the end, his decisions have mostly been for the greater good.

And this book has Star Wars jokes! In order to escape a potentially deadly situation, some of the characters plan an escape based solely upon a scheme Han Solo attempted once.

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Needless to say, I could not put this thing down. I devoured this book and was delighted to find that it is the first in a trilogy. The second book is on hold for my at my local library, and I’m getting antsy waiting for it to be my turn.

 

15
Apr
16

In which Michael Stipe and Luke Skywalker team up to save the world. CBR8 review 19.

Unknown-2I can’t remember when I first read World War Z. I think it was during CBR7, but maybe it was CBR6. It was a book I enjoyed, but I just never got around to reviewing it. I keep a list of all of the books that haven’t been reviewed since I started Cannonballing, but I don’t date them, and maybe I should.

But I remember reading it quickly, and being surprised by what I found. I liked it a lot and was shocked at how different it was from that Brad Pitt thing. I liked the dry wit and pessimistic attitude that Max Brooks brought to the traditional zombie story, tracing the epidemic from patient zero in rural China to the end of the zombie war, some 10 years later. Told in interview format, with information from people of all walks of life and from all corners of the globe, we saw a complete picture of just how quickly our world could break down if some sort of global crisis were to come calling.

This time, I listened to the audiobook. And wow, was it a different experience.

It was funnier. Some of the narrators were just so good at the parts they played. Martin Scorcese as the crooked pharmaceutical executive was just brilliant. His fast-talking, I-dont-give-a-shit attitude was perfect for the man who was now living in exile after tricking the american people into a false sense of safety from the zombie infection.

It was also much sadder. Bruce Boxleitner was a bit heartbreaking as a civilian pilot who watched the midwest completely break down while he flew overhead. Listening to the different voices tell the story of what their lives were like before and after the outbreak was really tough sometimes. The chapter about the new mayor of the fortified town in Montana, in particular — I knew exactly what was going to happen to her and her family, and yet I was scared to death while listening to her tell the story. Alfred Molina telling the story about watching the invasion from the International Space Station, while he was on his deathbed, dying from radiation poisoning, was also beautifully done.

The chapter about the famous movie director riding around California on his bike, trying to splice together footage of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, also had some poignant bits. In particular, his description of the young college student singing Roxy Music’s Avalon — a perfect song to set the mood of the interview.

 

I also learned a lot more about what Brooks truly thinks about government, religion, celebrity, and America in general. Too many secrets, too much bureaucracy, too much of the “looking out for number one” attitude, too much excess.

The chapter about the reality show filming on Long Island particularly stuck with me. Not only did Henry Rollins do an absolutely amazing job telling this story, but the insight into Hollywood, and what it means to be famous, was really disturbing. Those celebrities who were stupid enough to think that their fame was more important than the deaths of thousands of civilians deserved everything that they got.

His views on the treatment of the military were also eye-opening. The chapters narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris as a high-ranking military official showed just what a clusterfuck the entire operation was. And Alan Alda almost steals the show as the head of a newly created government bureau, who’s job it is to re-educate the american people, train them to live in this new world, and to create the tools and weapons needed not only to survive, but to thrive once again.

But not everyone was as successful. I think some of these great actors that were gathered up to be a part of this — lots of them probably friends of Max Brooks or his dad…I mean, Carl Fricking Reiner is in this — just weren’t that convincing. As readers, they did a great job. But this is supposed to be a bunch of interviews, so it should sound like a conversation, right?

One part in particular that failed for me was the description of how the navy was fighting the zombies underwater. In the book, I remember being mesmerized by the descriptions of walking over broken flat-screen TVs and looking behind appliances for zombies. And that fighting them in the water was like “fighting in a glass of milk” because of all of the sand and silt and salt. But the narrator killed this chapter and I couldn’t get through it fast enough.

And yes, the worst offender was Brooks himself. His delivery just didn’t work. But I’ll get over it. Because he gave me the gift of Mark Hamill.

Mark Hamill pretty much won my heart with his portrayal of soldier Todd Wainio. In the book, I remember thinking that Wainio’s three appearances were a bit much. Yes, his description of the failed Battle of Yonkers was fascinating, but the character was a bit too much to take.

And then Mark Hamill brought Todd Wainio to life, and I wish there was a whole book about him. His descriptions of what happened in Yonkers, the rebuilding of the army with volunteers from all over the country (nuns! realtors! Michael Stipe!) as well as his trek across the country afterwards, were simply riveting. Hamill understood how to bring his character to life in a conversational format, so it sounded like I was just sitting there, listening to a somewhat-unhinged guy tell me all about the past 10 years of his life. And it was amazing.

Sorry, James Marsters. There’s a new audiobook king in my world.

 

 




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