Thursday, July 18, 2013

A few more stories from the zombie apocalypse

In a book with as grand a scope as World War Z, it would only make sense that there would be some untold stories floating around. In Closure Limited, author Max Brooks has released four more short stories, as well as an intro that explains how he got into the zombie business in the first place.

Coming in at a slim 124 pages, these feel like tales that were left on the cutting room floor from the original book, and the quality is a bit shaky. The title story, 'Closure, Limited: A Story of World War Z' is the story of a rather ingenious entrepreneur after the dust settled from the Zombie War. He and his employees mine the areas that are still infested with zombies, capture them, and let their customers use them for a sense of 'closure.'

'Steve and Fred' gives the reader a perspective that couldn't be gotten from the interview format of World War Z. Here, a man is trapped in a water closet, with only a book. As the days go by, the sound of the Zeds never leaves the door to the bathroom for long, and his grip on reality gets harder and harder to hold on to.

'The Extinction Parade' is by far the weakest story in the collection. Our characters are a group of vampires, who have lived alongside humanity and the zombies since the beginning of time. At first, they think it's funny that the humans aren't taking care of the zombie flare-up very well, but as time goes on and their food source dies off in record numbers, the vampires start to wonder what the future might bring.

Finally, in 'Great Wall: A Story from the Zombie War', we return to the journalistic storytelling of World War Z. Our UN observer interviews a Chinese woman who fled North after the war broke out. Eventually she reached an offshoot of the Great Wall, and along with other refugees frantically works to rebuild the Wall. But, unlike in the Xia Dynasty, this time it's to protect the North from the threat from the South.

We're also treated to an Introduction by the author. Here, we're treated to Brooks' first encounters with zombies, and the train of thought that caused him to write The Zombie Survival Guide.

Overall, the stories here are decent, but not amazing. As with most 'deleted scenes' in movies, there's generally a reason they were left out. Only the first story is up to the quality of his novel, but the rest are readable nonetheless. Fans of Brooks may want to check it out, but it might be better suited to a cheap ebook release than the physical release it got.

Highs: The title story is actually a morbidly fascinating look at the human psyche.

Lows: Brooks really did his universe a disservice by introducing vampires into an otherwise realistic situation.

Verdict: An uneven collection, worth reading once but perhaps not purchasing.

Further Reading: Under a Graveyard Sky, Boneshaker

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