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My wife and I have been absolutely loving the Walking Dead series on Fox (it's a satellite channel) and were sad to see the recent series finish a few weeks ago. We now have to wait until the Fall - not the Manchester band with Marc E Smith as singer but the American for autumn. To help fill my zombie loving gap, I've recently read a book connected to the series, called Rise of the Governor.
It's a story about the Governor; a despot who we know from the TV series is in charge of a safe haven called Woodbury. The book covers the time before and just up to him getting to Woodbury and gives a good insight into his background and how he became the ruthless leader that he is. Rick, Daryl et al from the TV series aren't featured in this tale, their paths haven't crossed yet. Think of it as like that StarWars film, the Phantom Menace, in that this book shows us how everything we know about a series / book came to be, a prequel.
The Governor, Phillip Blake, travels to Atlanta with his brother Brian, friend Nick and daughter Penny in search of a refuge centre that they've heard exists there. It's soon apparent that Atlanta is lost, a fallen city now populated with the walking dead. They manage to escape the city they tried so hard to get to get to and find shelter in an old abandoned colonial style homestead set amongst a peach orchard. They look set to last the winter here, but are soon violently ousted by a gang of chancers with more firepower. It's here that the Governor's daughter is killed, which is known to those who watch the TV series. On the move again, they arrive at Woodbury, and the rest as they say is history and has made some fantastic Friday night viewing for Mrs Dablue and I.
I like my zombie books to be about zombies, not about a romance between two survivors or an adventure story that barely features the walking dead. This book satisfied my zombie yearnings, they are central to every decision that the Governor and his band make and the story pivots around them at every twist and turn in the plot as they try to stay one step ahead of the biters.
I wouldn't say that you have to have watched the Walking Dead programmes to enjoy this book, if you like a good zombie story then I recommend it to you. There is a brilliant twist on the very last page of the book which, when revealed, mends a big flaw in the story of the Governor as we know it to be up to that point. After reading this, I'm now counting the days until next autumn when it returns to our screens. Well done Robert Kirkman, I thoroughly enjoyed your book. Five stars.
Available on Amazon for £5.03 brand new
I have thoroughly enjoyed the last two seasons of the Walking Dead, and started to read the comics while waiting for season 2. I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of comics and graphic novels so when I realised in October last year that a novel 'The Rise of the Governor' had been released, based around one of the main big bad characters from the comics, who we will be meeting in season 3 of the T.V. show I had to read it.
The book is written by Robert Kirkman the creator of the Walking Dead with horror writer Jay Bonansinga and like the series and comics the book dumps you straight in to zombie action. The book focuses on the story of brothers Philip and Brian Blake, and Philip's young daughter Penny and their journey towards the genesis of 'The Governor'. The story opens with Brian Blake the sensitive and (seemingly) weaker or more cowardly older sibling huddled in a cupboard with his 7 year old niece while his younger brother and their childhood friends Bobby and Nick go about clearing a comfortable house set on a private estate of it's now zombified inhabitants. With the aim of using it as a safe house on their journey to a (now genre staple) safe zone rumoured to be in Atlanta.
The book follows the relationship between the small family and friends on this journey. Facing the ever present issues in current zombie fiction, for example do they fortify the place they find them selves in, which seems fairly secure and improvable or do they move on in search of other survivors and potential rescue at a 'safe zone' - which may or may not exist.
I would say that the book is more focussed on the 'Genesis of the Governor' than the 'Rise of the Governor' as we don't follow his rise to power in this book, but more how he came to be. I love the zombie genre as to me amongst the horror and thrills lies a deep desire which I suspect is one I share, and seems to lie at the heart of many modern societies; the desire for a fresh start, even if it is among the rotting animated corpses of the old order. Unfortunately as in most zombie tales this fresh start doesn't usually go quite to plan and survivors find themselves falling into the same age old patterns of behaviour rather than developing a new order and technologies. The travails the little family experience during their journey challenge and change them in ways they could not imagine and as is common in the zombie genre not all encounters with other survivors are entirely successful. Their entry into Atlanta is a particularly dramatic and exciting chapter, and it is here that they first encounter other survivors. This interlude is both enlightening and exciting as we watch the development of the characters with zombie action sprinkled liberally at regular intervals throughout the narrative.
The brothers eventually find themselves at a small fortified town, Woodbury and we see how they interact with the social order created here and deal with the autocratic and brutal man in charge. For further plot details you will of course have to read the book. A second book 'The Road to Woodbury' is due out in October this year and apparently a third is planned.
In my opinion this book can be read as a stand alone piece, and as I had yet to come across the character of 'the Governor' I initially read it as such, although some frantic Googling of 'The Governor' did occur at certain points in the story. This book does however leave you wanting to know more about these characters and what is next for the Governor and his subjects.
I became swept away in the world created by the writers, it was so well written I became unaware that I was actually reading, absorbing page after page as it was simply unfurling itself within my mind. We are given a good balance of character development, motivation behind their actions and excellent but not unnecessarily florid descriptions of the locations and action. The tone of the book is classically apocalyptic and atmospheric and kept me turning (metaphorical) pages as quickly as I could. I finished the book in two sessions and was left wanting more.
I do feel that the 'Walking Dead t.v. series in general and also this book has so far emphasised the justification for the curtailment of civil liberties where the political model of a single strong leader for the group to survive is being promulgated, a slow build to this in the series, but more dramatically in the book. This is at odds with the actual political philosophy of cooperation and knowledge sharing which has been the characteristic of human society through the ages, it seems to be saying that this single leadership is a strength which has to be adopted in times of extremis. I would like to see how this philosophy develops and will we see the 'Walking Dead' return to a more collective form of leadership.
This is a book like the series which doesn't just deal with the immediate aftermath of a zombie outbreak, there is plenty of heart stopping zombie action which as lovers of the genre know will leave you genuinely fearing for your favourite characters as Kirkman (amongst many other writers in the genre) has shown that pretty much no one is safe from the ravenous clutches of the zombies. However there is a subtlety to the whole 'Walking Dead' universe and this book, exploring themes such as does brutality beget brutality even in a gentle thoughtful soul, can power corrupt the person who sets out to protect, gender roles too are explored with themes of sexual exploitation touched upon. All taking place within this new necessarily semi nomadic society where 'normal' humans are no longer top of the food chain.
My purchase was from Kobo and read on my phone, the artwork of the cover was the same as the hardback. It was easy to read and cost at the time of writing about £4.50 with a free sample available to download.
Being a big Walking Dead fan, comic books and television show, when I was in Waterstones and saw that they had now branced out to a book based on one of my favourite characters from the comics (and soon to be in the television show!), I couldn't resist buying it. The book is quite short at 308 pages, and I found that I finished it within a day. Yet, it's great for casual reading or to read in between work breaks.
The book is available for £8 in Waterstones, however it can also be purchased for £4 on Amazon. I would say that it is a horror thriller, and therefore it probably wouldn't be suited to youngsters due to the amount of gore and violence that occurs throughout it. 15 plus would probably be a better estimate for the age range this book is targeted at. While it is more likely to appeal to Walking Dead fans, I would say anyone could read it, as it is a novel which will keep you entertained and might even get you interested in what happens next, although you'll have to buy the comics to find that out.
The Walking Dead: Rise Of The Govenor is an origins story which focuses on one of the series main characters - The Govenor. Throughout the novel, we are shown his previous life before he featured in the comics, and what makes him the man he is in them. We see Phillip Blake's struggle to keep his daughter Penny safe, as she is the only thing left that he cares about along with his friends Billy, Nick and brother, Brian.
The apocalypse has simply led the world they once knew into chaos and now everything they do is a fight for survival. It leads them to many situations, some good and some bad. Will they meet other survivors along the way? If they do, is it for the best or worst? Does the apocalypse finally get to Phillip? Who will they lose along the way? All these questions are things you constantly find yourself asking throughout the novel, so there is never a dull moment.
However, their fight for survival has had a significant emotional drain on Phillip Blake as we watch him deteoriate in front of everyone else and descend into insanity. This is quite interesting to read through, as it shows how a once strong man can slowly remain a leader, yet make the wrong decisions. I'd definitely say that you find yourself getting attached to the characters, as you want them to survive, and the strong family bond they seem to have between them makes you wish nothing bad will happen to break that. But unfortunately, as it is set within an apocalypse, things always go wrong.
I have never read any of Jay Bonansinga's work before so didn't really know what to expect of the novel, however I was pleasantly surpised. While obviously not as good as horror writers like Stephen King, he does manage to keep the novel thrilling and tense. I found that I was constantly worried that something was going to jump out and bite someone even from small paragraphs, as he is really descriptive in the way he talks about surroundings and surpises. As he has collaboration from Robert Kirkman, the novel does follow the plots of the Walking Dead and so there are hardly any differences to the books and the comics.
The book itself is relatively fast paced, and I didn't feel that the plot ever got too slow as something was always happening in the books that was thrilling, scary or interesting. It also contains just enough drama, slight romance and horror to make it not too soppy and not too gory. That is probably one of the main reasons that I found I could read it in one sitting!
Overall, this book is great for a Walking Dead comic fan as it introduces you to the Governor or even just a horror fan, there is enough blood and gore to keep you satisfied. A well written horror thriller with some characters that you just hope will survive the apocalypse, it keeps you on the edge constantly by constantly making new gangs or zombies appear.