5 min read

Book vs Movie Differences (World War Z)

There’s a saying that goes something like, 'History is dictated by the victors’. With screen adaptations, it’s more like, 'Whoever owns…
Book vs Movie Differences (World War Z)

There’s a saying that goes something like, 'History is dictated by the victors’. With screen adaptations, it’s more like, 'Whoever owns the movie right gets to decide. Screw the expectations of those book readers.’ Explains why we end up with cool kid Goku or needs 5 people to move a small rock Avatar.

I recently picked up World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Going to be listing out some of the differences between the really good zombie movie and the really good zombie book. The book is my favorite, not because I like books over their screen adaptations but because the author reminded me of me. Go figure. Like minds attract and all.

There are no uber-zombies in the books

See those zombies that can sprint like their 100m champions in the movie? They don’t exist in the book. If they did, the book characters would be screwed 4 times over. There would be no hope for them. Nothing, nada, zilch. Book gives us regular zombies with the ability to infect other people and even then, they’re hella scary.

I mean, I don’t want to get too technical, but how do decomposing bodies sprint like they’re trying to break Usain Bolt’s records and not have their legs be flying off in every direction. Movie science is a fascinating thing.

A picture from the Attack on Titan series with text saying ‘How the zombies in the movie were TBH but just smaller’

Zombies that can climb over each other to scale really large walls

There’s a scene in the movie where zombies are attracted by singing and scale over the walls around Israel and eventually overrun the country. Doesn’t happen as far as I can tell (75% done with the book). Book zombies don’t have the tenacity. The zombies also fall from a great height, get up and start running. Lol, nope. Their bodies would probably be shattered and you’d end up with lots of crawlers that are easier to deal with.

Zombies leaving you alone if you are sick


I’d stop at there but I’d be doing my readers a disservice. No, the zombies do not leave you alone if you are terminally ill. They are equal opportunists and against any form of discrimination. Zombies in the book go after anything they consider living meat — human beings, cows, moles. You name it. Heck, a bear got scared off by one.

A picture of zombies with text saying ‘Equal opportunity zombies’

Transmission speed

Happens in like 10 seconds in the movie in one scene. Takes a while in the books depending on where you got infected. They both agree to an extent that time to turn varies across individuals. Depends on the infection site. Faster if its in the heart. It’s probably faster if you get killed or die while infected. But bites take days to activate.

The idea that the zombies bite you and you turn in less than a minute from the movie is a strange one but when you have to one-up The Walking Dead series, you need to think bigger.

If the transmission speed had been the same in the books, there wouldn’t be a book.

No vaccines in the book. There’s a fake vaccine though

The movie ending has them producing a vaccine to act as a camouflage. The book gives us a fake vaccine, Phalanx. Book characters would have been happy if they had actual meds that helped. They largely waited for winter to come so the zombies would freeze over.

A picture of a man wearing a coat in the snow with the caption, "Wa ha la for who no get snow"

Relocating F-6 personnel from the flight deck of a naval carrier

Nerdy Kachi taking over.

F-6 personnel are people who don’t have skills that are effective post-zombie war like corporate lawyers or entertainment managers. They need to be retrained in the books to help the rebuilding process.

The movie has a scene where Brad Pitt’s character receives a threat that his F-6 family would be redeployed off a safe navy carrier if he doesn’t do what they say. Lol @ that happening in book world. DestSRes would come down on their asses so bad, diarrhea would feel bad for them. Why would they be wasting precious fuel to relocate people.

Cutting off an infected body to stop the infection

Book. Nope. It’s kinda a general consensus that once you get bitten by a Z or their body fluids come in contact with an open wound, that you’re screwed sideways in 5 different ways. No coming back. The movie has a cut off body part scene that would likely not have worked in book world

Zombies only relying on sound

Mfs can smell. Sneaking in an area infested with them and not making noise won’t make you invisible to them. If they were sentient, they’d point at you and just go, ‘What a bozo’ and begin their slow march towards you. Those olfactory senses be working on overdrive.

Zombies being more aggressive after one of them is killed



Now for the long talk for my sweethearts. This was an attempt to anthropomorphize the zombies and mostly tells me that the creative team either didn’t read the book or they did and went fuck it and did their own shit. Zombies only care about food. They ain’t got no time for friendships and shit.

A picture depicting zombies not being fans of friendships, but loving food instead

White American dude saves the day

Wow. So much disrespect for Cuba, the real winners of the war. Well, that’s what you get when Hollywood adapts stuff. They get to center themselves and there’s nothing you can do besides not paying to see the movie, telling your friends to boycott the movies or burning DVDs. Just no options. Sad.

Anyways, there’s no white dude swashbuckling across countries, noticing that terminally sick people aren’t hunted in the books and being the only one that observes that. There are a couple of white people who come up with plans to help countries deal with the outbreak and one’s South African.

Also, he’s some sort of ex special forces guy, go figure. Like, they could have gone with a David Harbour, all American dad with a sweet bod. Be more creative Hollywood. Gee.

Picture of David Harbour with text saying, "See spec"
See spec

Final Verdict

Whoever adapted the book saw how dark it got and decided to add hope to it because the book is some of the darkest stuff I’ve read. So props to them.

Better for people to pay money to watch the time tested tradition of a white American saving the day than buying the book and finding out that the only thing standing between people and zombies in some places is the sweet embrace of sub zero temperatures. Major props to them for that ingenious decision.