I’ve voiced many times in the past my aversion to borrowing books from other people. I won’t get into the reasons why yet again. What I will say is that, as of late, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by recent suggestions from other people.
During a recent trip to Atlanta, GA with my wife to attend the Catalyst conference, we stayed over a few days with an old friend Justin Purdy. I’ve known Purdy since our days together at Parris Island, otherwise known as hell-on-earth or Marine Corps boot camp. We hit it off immediately, mainly because we shared the same desire for reckless adventure and quite a few shared hobbies. Two predilections we share that sparked this month’s review are a love of martial activities and zombie tales.
World War Z by Max Brooks. Three Rivers Press. 342 pages. $14.95
I have to admit that the vast majority of my zombie fare comes from movies and comic books. I’ve never been a devotee of zombie prose until now. This book was first recommended to me by Jeff Small, a fellow devotee of all things horror and comic book related. My lack of zombie fiction experience notwithstanding, I have to say that World War Z (WWZ) is the best book of the genre that I’ve read thus far.
Brooks wrote WWZ as a follow-up to his immensely successful The Zombie Survival Guide, which is a collection of tips and training to survive an apocalypse of the undead. WWZ, rather than the simple prose retelling of a story, is instead a collection of accounts or personal history written by a United Nations reporter. Both books are written as if the incidents contained therein have really happened and the writing is to help us survive by having the right information.
The narrator’s job was to travel the world making an official report on the zombie war for the United Nations. The official report focused primarily on facts and numbers and eliminated the people aspects. That is why the narrator wrote this account of personal histories about incidents pre-, during, and post-war from all over the world. The incidents related involve famous celebrities, politicians, and plenty of normal folk who survived.
One of the things I look for in any new stories regarding the supernatural or monsters is how the writer changes the mythology. I really enjoyed the new additions to the zombie story in WWZ. The stories about how zombies have taken over bodies of water are a great addition. I also enjoyed the reaction of zombies to extreme cold, freezing in the winter and thawing out in the spring to roam the earth.
If you’re a fan of zombies, monsters, or really great human interest stories I’d recommend this one heartily. If you enjoy the book, you might be excited to know that Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment has optioned the book for film. The rumor is that Pitt is planning on playing the role of the narrator.
Against All Odds by Chuck Norris. B&H Books. 246 pages. $14.99
I have always been a fan of Chuck Norris. I can fondly recall from my earliest days going to see his movies on the big screen. Lone Wolf McQuade was always my favorite. I followed Norris all the way through his career on into the Walker Texas Ranger phase of things. I never did like that theme song though.
I have to admit that although I was such a huge fan, I never knew that much about Norris’ personal life or martial arts career. I knew he’d been a champion of some kind and was great friends with Bruce Lee, but I didn’t know the stats. I also knew he was a professed Christian, but I didn’t know much about his religious life or his testimony. I’m glad I read the book.
Of course Norris explains how he learned martial arts and how that training took him higher and higher. He also told much more than that. Even with his phenomenal acting and physical success the book is written from a very humble point-of-view. Like any person Norris hasn’t done everything right in his life, but he’s is very quick to point out his mistakes. Not only does he point them out, he also takes all the responsibility for them. Before reading the book, I liked Norris as an actor and martial artist. Now I respect him as an honorable Christian.
If you haven’t thought about reading the book, let me throw you a little nugget to look for. You might have heard of all the Chuck Norris superfacts spreading over the Web, such as “Chuck Norris hides under the Boogeyman’s bed.” You’ll have to read the book to find out the real story behind how Norris had twins a decade after having a vasectomy.