We're now on the next part of the book, ominously titled "BLAME". This is the part where Max Brooks rails against various people and institutions he doesn't like, through the medium of depicting them reacting poorly to the zombie apocalypse. It's exactly as dull and uninteresting as it sounds.
In fact it's so dull that I'm going to mostly skip over the first chapter, which is about a former CIA guy handwaving suggestions that his agency could have foreseen the Great Panic (as the opening of the zombie war is called) and expositing on Chinese political shenanigans.
Basically, China tried to cover up the zombie outbreak (which began within their borders, remember) by orchestrating a tense military stand-off with Taiwan. Absent from the chapter is any compelling explanation for why they would do this. I get the feeling Max Brooks saw the real-life SARS coverup and decided that the Chinese government is just irrationally hell-bent on hiding disease outbreaks, to the point where they'd risk starting world war three to do it.
There's also some grumbling about budget cuts where the CIA chief talks about "the previous administration" and "the last brushfire war" and it's plainly obvious who and what he's talking about but for some reason the book never states it explicitly. This is par for the course and will reach its ludicrous apex in a later chapter, so I won't go into it further.
I 'm alsp breezing past the next chapter, which is about the initial American military response (don't be fooled by this book's title, the "world" part becomes increasingly irrelevant as it goes on) and why it failed so badly. There's yet more talk about the "brushfire conflict" and the effect it had on US morale.
But the little nugget of framing information we get is interesting:
[It is spring, “hunting season.” As the weather warms, and the bodies of frozen zombies begin to reanimate, elements of the UN N-For (Northern Force) have arrived for their annual “Sweep and Clear.” Every year the undead’s numbers dwindle. At current trends, this area is expected to be completely “Secure” within a decade.
This is another bit of zombie lore borrowed from The Zombie Survival Guide, and it raises some serious questions.
In the World War Z universe, zombies (which, remember, are supposedly the product of a completely natural plague) are walking corpses that can only be killed by damage to the brain, and they don't need oxygen, and they can survive at the bottom of the ocean (as seen in a later chapter) and they can sense the presence of humans even with their eyes and ears destroyed (this is stated to be the case in the survival guide) and they can literally freeze solid and then be restored to full functionality.
At some point, this can only be explained by magic. There's a reason the most recent trend of "grounded" zombie fiction started with 28 Days Later and its many inspirational descendants: a virus that turns people uncontrollably violent is a lot more scientifically plausible than one that literally raises corpses. The properties of the zombies in this story veer way too far into the overtly supernatural.
We finally get a meatier chapter when we visit Vostok Station in Antarctica, home of Breckinridge Scott. You can probably guess this just based on his name, but he's basically the 80s business guy from Futurama:
Now, read the following excerpts and tell me how well you think they fit into this gritty, ultra-realistic story about the horrors of zombie war.
"Plus, this was one of the most business-friendly administrations in American history. J. P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller were getting wood from beyond the grave for this guy in the White House. "
"Remember the whole thing about “people don’t need big government, they need big protection, and they need it big-time!” Jesus Christmas, I think half the country creamed their pants at that."
"Remember when we started to get our first cases here in the States, that guy in Florida who said he’d been bitten but survived because he was taking Phalanx? OH! [He stands, mimes the act of frantic fornication.]"
Max Brooks' habit of making all of his characters absurdly broad stereotypes doesn't reac its nadir here, but it's close.
Phalanx is a fake vaccine that Mr. Jesus Christmas made millions off of. I'm really not sure who or what this chapter is meant to be railing against: predatory capitalists, the FDA, or the American public. Possibly all three. From here on out the book regularly gets very up its own ass about waving a finger sternly at everyone for being lazy, complacent sheep, but since this is all in the service of a fictional scenario that will never actually happen, it's hard to extract any sort of message from it.