There's not many books I've read more than once. World War Z by Max Brooks is one. The first time I read it I didn't put it down for 24 hours apart from when sleeping. I cooked with it in one hand, even. For a long time I wasn't sure what was so compelling about it.
If you've seen the movie you should now that the only thing they share is the title. I mean, the movie isn't even inspired by the book. I'm not sure any of the gazillion script writers they went through in short order ever read it.
But enough ranting. The book takes place 10 years after the great zombie war. Humanity is finally starting to rebuild society again, and painstakingly tracking and destroying the last remnants of zombies all over the world. Our protagonist is hardly present; it's a nameless person who travels the world interviewing people about their experiences in the time leading up to the war and the different phases of the conflict.
The story is perfectly laid out. Each chapter is an interview, or often a part of an interview, placed just there to form a greater narrative. We meet the Chinese doctor who reported patient zero (although we quickly learn that there were others before), and the intelligence analysts who finally understood what was actually happening. We meet the politicians who didn't do enough to stop it. The quacks that became rich from false cures. And many many others.
It's all so very human. As you read it you understand perfectly. Why didn't the suburban mom take the news seriously? Well, her kids were having trouble in school, there were sports, parent teacher conferences, and a thousand other things to deal with. Of course there's no time to get read up on yet another disaster among thousands that seem to happen every year.
Why didn't governments do enough to stop it? Because authoritarian governments care more about silencing the truth or looking like they're in control than handling a complex situation that demands so much from their populace that they may get a revolution on their hands. Democratic governments likewise don't want to disclose the severity and actual cost of the problem for fear of losing the next election.
It all gets out of hand. It's truly an apocalyptic event. We learn how pockets of humans have survived. How resilience, decentralization, cooperation, and ingenuity eventually saves us. At huge costs. The old society is all but gone. It'll take decades or even centuries to rebuild. Humanity is scarred.
And it finally struck me. Max Brooks may have written this book because he loves zombies. Especially the slow, creepy ones. The ones that appear easy to defeat, until it's suddenly a horde of them. But I'm not reading a book about zombies.
I'm reading a book about the ongoing climate disaster.
-- CC0 Björn Wärmedal