World War Z

There's something comforting about having a story told to you. It's in our subconscious and unconscious mind. Long before the invention of the printing press it was the storytellers that could keep people enthralled, as Scheherazade proved in 1001 Nights. Nowadays, the story writers generally aren't the storytellers. The authors may create the fantastical worlds, but it is actors that bring them to life, whether on film or simply as spoken word in radio plays, and in the growing world of audiobooks, of which Audible are the greatest purveyors, with thousands of titles on offer.

There is also a practical advantage over print and e-books, they can be listened to while carrying out activities that can't be done while reading a book, such as driving, exercising or cooking and other household chores. And with the advent of MP3 players, audiobooks have really come into their own. No more bulky tapes or CDs that need changing. Anyone who has shared the pleasure of listening to Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter with children will know how great audiobooks can be, especially on long journeys.

Thankfully there are plenty of audiobooks for grown-ups and sci-fi and fantasy is very well catered for, and given how so many of them are weighty tomes, what could be better than to have someone do all that reading for you.

Max (son of Mel) Brooks' book World War Z is a perfect candidate for the audiobook treatment because its complete title is World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. The story (soon to be released as a movie with Brad Pitt), is the recounting of events of an international war against an outbreak of zombies, as told by survivors from around the world. With different actors reading the different accounts, it really gives the stories authenticity, which is further helped by some great writing. Brooks gives each character a unique voice and story that all link together. Having previously written The Zombie Survival Guide, Brooks has obviously given a lot of thought to the scenario of an all out zombie attack, and this story is filled with some wonderful observations about contemporary society (as any good genre story should). The only down side is some of the accents aren't very good as they are not done by native actors. For example, the Japanese character often sounds more Austrian, but overall the accents are passable.

If you've never had the pleasure of listening to an audiobook then this is an ideal place to start: a great story well told. Audible often have special introductory offers and their subscription service is a big money saver. In fact, World War Z is on special offer to Audible members for £5.99, until March 10, along with many other sci-fi and fantasy stories. If you find that you don't have time to read a book then do give Audible a go. You can even sign up with your existing Amazon account.

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