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A thrilling novel from the 'Walking Dead' universe
The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor - Robert Kirkman
Member Name: Dryad
The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor - Robert Kirkman
Date: 13/05/12, updated on 13/05/12 (138 review reads)
Advantages: Adds a welcome layer to the Walking Dead story
Disadvantages: None in my opinion
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.
Summary: An action packed zombie thriller with plenty of deep character development.