The basic synopsis of Eric S. Brown’s novel ‘World War of the Dead‘ is simple enough. In World War II the undead and a monster as old as time are brought to our world by a bombing run, and it’s up to 3 men who develop unique powers to stop them. …Okay, so maybe it’s not so simple. Overall I would say that World War of the Dead is an intense, enjoyable ride. There are several moments that made me go ‘What?!’ and ‘…uh… what?’ out loud, but what fun is an action-based zombie book if it doesn’t make you question its intentions aloud every now and again?
I cannot stress enough that this book is a roller coaster ride, and that I mean that in the best possible way. There is a LOT of action due to the nature of the story, first and foremost. In a lot of ways it is first a war book, and then it becomes a zombie novel. You start out with some of the characters on the front lines literally, while others are about to take part in an air raid/bombing mission. Rather than watching an outbreak through the eyes of a handful of characters in one location you get to see it from the perspective of several different people with different roles to play.
Although the book doesn’t sound particularly unique, (Nazi Zombie isn’t the most original theme), Brown manages to make his particular take uncommon by incorporating his faith and by making a rapid fire shift between characters and perspectives that keeps the reader on their toes. It is quite unlike anything I have seen before. While this may not mean well for the ease of flow measure I will address below, it certainly means that Brown gets high marks in the ‘originality’ department.
Writing Style 2/5 & Ease of Flow 1/5
These two measures will be described together because they are incredibly relevant to one another in this particular novel. The writing is at times disjointed and difficult to follow. There were several pages which featured passages that I had to re-read in order to be sure that I had understood their meaning due to unclear phrasing. Sometimes, even sentences were difficult to follow or completely discern the meaning of due to phrasing or word choice.
Add to that the fact that the character the reader deals with is changed every few paragraphs, and that the circumstances of each character often change dramatically between each of their sections, and you understand why the novel receives a low rating in ease of flow. I almost felt compelled to take notes in several sections because it was so difficult to follow each character and their subsequent story lines. Especially when things started getting weird. (
Oh hi, sudden ability to fly.) If the author had longer sections devoted to each character I think this could have been avoided.
Character and Scene Description 4/5
I don’t think that I can justify giving a score lower than a 4 after reading the action sequences. While the character description could have been stronger, there are many characters who received little more than a hair or eye color in description, you get a good grasp of the environment thanks to Brown’s detailed situation descriptions. You feel the desperation of characters in fox holes, and the anxiety of a bar maid who had to serve SS officers in a tavern.
Overall Rating: 3/5
While I don’t expect that this book will be hitting a top seller list anytime soon, I did thoroughly enjoy this title. There were some ‘oh no, you aren’t actually going there, are you?’ moments, but I would definitely say that this was a fun book. As some of my previous books have been, you can get this for free using Kindle Unlimited or as a relatively cheap ebook. I recommend it if you have some time on your hands and have any interest in zombie fiction written in the WWII era.