Max Brooks is the bestselling author of the zombie novel ‘World War Z’ which was recently made into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Brad Pitt. ‘Closure Limited And Other Zombie Tales’ is a collection of four of his short stories. Two of them are set in the same universe as ‘World War Z’ while the other two are not.
The title story, ‘Closure Limited’, comes first in the collection and is one of the ‘World War Z’ universe stories. Set in the aftermath of the zombie onslaught, it follows an unnamed human protagonist as he boards a converted luxury yacht moored in the waters off Iceland. He is there to gain some closure on his experiences during the apocalypse. The bespoke service provided by the people on the yacht is described with great attention to detail and the denouement of the story is both surprising and shocking. This is a very effective story which is well-paced and carries an impressive emotional punch.
‘Steve And Fred’ starts with a tale of derring-do as tough ex-soldier Steve helps nerdy neuroscientist Naomi to escape the zombie horde. However, half-way through this story it transforms into something very different, with a far less upbeat outlook. I loved the way that Brooks started us off down one track, giving us a pulp fiction approach to a zombie story, before turning the reader’s expectations completely on their head.
‘The Extinction Parade’ is nearly three times longer than any of the other stories here and Brooks uses that extra length to good effect. This is set in a world where both zombies and vampires exist and it is told from the point of view of a nameless, ancient and highly experienced vampire. As zombies take over the world, the vampires initially view them as little more than a temporary inconvenience, similar in their effect on humanity to historical epidemics such as the Black Death or the Plague. They expect a temporary lull in mankind’s numbers followed by a new expansion. However, as it becomes increasingly clear that humanity has no effective answer to the zombie onslaught, our vampire hero is one of the first of his kind to recognise that their sole source of food may be in danger of becoming extinct. With that realisation comes an emotion he has not felt since he was sired as a vampire many centuries earlier: fear! Can he persuade the vampires to work together to protect what remains of humanity from extinction? I loved this story, which uses layer upon layer of detailed description to take us inside the mind of a vicious, soulless predator, showing his transformation into a victim. By the end of the story, I actually felt pity for him.
The last story in the collection, ‘Great Wall’, is the other one to be set in the universe of ‘World War Z’. It is told in the style of that book, as if it were the transcript of an interview with Chinese army reservist Liu Huafeng, the owner of a general store in a country that has managed to defend its borders against the zombie peril. She spends one weekend a month patrolling the Great Wall of China and, in the story, she recounts the race against time that she and her compatriots endured a few years earlier as they fought to complete their section of the wall before the zombies arrived. Brooks does an excellent job of conveying the increasing sense of desperation of a team of people working twenty-four hours a day, without sleep or food, to complete their task before it is too late.
‘Closure Limited And Other Zombie Tales’ is a short but highly effective collection. Max Brooks is a talented writer who uses detailed description to take us right inside his stories, no matter how grim the scenario. If you’re a zombie fan, you’ll love this little book.
(pub: Duckworth. 124 page paperback. Price: £ 5.99 (US). ISBN: 978-0-71564-293-1)
check out website: www.ducknet.co.uk