Closure, Limited | Author: Max Brooks | Publisher: Duckworth Overlook | Genre: Horror, Post Apocalyptic Fiction | Year: 2012
Any written sequel – whether it be the novel equivalent of a greatest hits EP or not – was going to have a very tough time following the seminal World War Z, and it’s this same unenviable situation that Closure, Limited finds itself in.
You can’t deny this 4-story collection’s pluck though as it offers up more of Max Brooks’ trademark zombie fiction with the majority of tales actually taking place in the same universe as the one from ‘Z.
Closure, Limited is in fact the first story that you’re presented with here. Directly billed as “A Story from World War Z”, we follow Brooks’ enigmatic narrator as we’re introduced to a business venture dealing in the most desirable drug of post war society.
We’re introduced to the fun Doctor Kiersted who takes us on a guided tour of Closure’s sailing yacht HQ that’s currently anchored in the Icelandic safe zone. The author’s ability to mix weighty survivalist insight with drops of humour is still on point – “What’s this world coming to when you can’t bribe a Russian?” – and even though it’s intended as a warm-up chapter, Closure, Limited accomplishes its task well.
Steve and Fred is up next and honestly, this one is perhaps the toughest sell of the whole novella. It’s another survivor’s anecdote about the hell of living alongside the non-living, but it breaks character a bit by being more ‘straight’ with its fiction. There are no transcripts or interview snippets here and whilst that certainly helps it stand out, the brevity of the narrative leaves almost no time for appreciating its central character or his plight.
The Extinction Parade is a more welcome ‘what if?’ departure that re-examines World War Z from the perspective of another supernatural creature entirely! Yes, in a delicious twist that is totally worth spoiling; Brooks introduces us to a race of vampires whose immunity to their “subdead” cousins nevertheless prompts the rapidly escalating concern involving their primary source of food. The central narrator here also happens to be a vampire and despite his race being characterized as a cult of murderous fiends, Brooks achieves the unthinkable by eliciting true sympathy for them and their own struggle for survival.
It’s a story blessed of the same wonderful ideas that characterized much of World of War Z and it also helps that The Extinction Parade is by far the longest tale featured in the collection. There’s plenty of time to really invest in its characters and enough room to adequately differentiate it as a piece of standalone fiction.
Great Wall is the final chapter in the set and similar to the first, it too is subtitled as “A Story from the Zombie War”. This one is a more straightforward account of the Chinese workers who desperately sought to rebuild the Great Wall of China in a bid to contain (not repel) the zombie horde once and for all. Brooks’ spot-on research for this chapter lends it a terrifying sense of authenticity as the Chinese adoption of the Redeker Plan goes into full effect with hair-raising results.
In this sense, Great Wall is unlike the other stories as it directly references events from World War Z. Prior experience with the universe is sort of needed here and even then the story itself is still very short and feels a tad lost without its direct involvement in the author’s previous work.
And that’s ultimately the biggest gripe with this book; the individual chapters are just too short to really generate any sort of deeper connection with their source material. The Extinction Parade suffers less from this problem because despite taking up the lion’s share of the page count, it has a ‘hook’ that the other stories can’t match.
Cover to cover though, this book has about the same number of pages as Jason Alexander’s autobiography and whilst I don’t normally complain about price tags affecting the quality of the product underneath, it’s hard to ignore the steep price being asked for here.
Closure, Limited is an easily skippable release because of this, even for diehard fans of Brooks’ work. It’s not a disappointing read by any means, but perhaps rather fittingly, it is devoured all too quickly.