I had been meaning to read The Zombie Survival Guide (2003) by Max Brooks before I read World War Z (WWZ), but it just so happens that offers to let me borrow them came in the opposite order. Incidentally, I try to borrow as much of my leisure reading as I can because I spend so much on books for the classroom and lesson planning that my book budget is pretty taxed (nearly $200 in the last two weeks, though admittedly that’s not average). I will say straight away that if you can only read one WWZ is the superior book, but if it’s not enough for you, the survival guide is a good companion.
I was told that the survival guide would fill some of my perceived holes in the WWZ world building, but I can’t say that it does. The questions I had before are still unanswered, even after reading the first section: “The Undead: Myths and Realities.”
The bulk of the book is what you would expect, a survival guide, with a section for recorded outbreaks at the end. The outbreaks section is the jumping off point for WWZ and the best part of the book. The survival guide is fun to read at first, but it quickly gets repetitious. If the outbreaks had been peppered throughout the guide to back up the directions it would be a superior read. As-is getting through some of the sections becomes a slog, especially near the end. Also, while the outbreaks section is good, both books suffer from attempting more narrative voices than Brooks can execute. Taking excerpts from letters and diaries seems like a good idea, if you can pull it off, but Brooks can’t. If you actually read older texts (I guess most people don’t, whatever) you can tell that Brooks is writing the faux excerpts from old letters because they don’t sound authentic at all. Rearranging sentence structure old timey sounds not (aka Yoda Syndrome).
Still it’s an interesting read, if you are fascinated by zombies I’d borrow it from someone, but if you can only buy one I’d stick with WWZ.