This book is NOT going to be for everyone. If you like zombie stories (especially if they're the modern turbo-charged zombies as opposed to the old-fashioned shambling sluggards), you will love this book, almost guaranteed. I lent my copy of this book to a friend who enjoys zombie stories, and he ordered his own copy before he got half-way through reading mine. If you're a die-hard "Star Wars" fan, though, you may be a bit disappointed. Joe Schreiber writes a darned good zombie story, fast-paced and creepy with moments of genuine creeping horror. But to quote one of the surprise much-beloved hero characters which show up unexpectedly in this novel: "...we're on a Star Destroyer being chased by the living dead. NONE of this feels right." And it doesn't.
Mr. Schreiber is obviously a "Star Wars" fan. He throws in such obscure technical details and races (like the brief cameo of what is apparently a Paaerduag prisoner, a unique species which was only seen fleetingly in one RPG video game, so far as I know) that you suspect he could probably navigate the "Star Wars" galaxy by himself and converse with several species in their native languages along the way. Regardless, even with the sci-fi explanation of The Blackwing Infection, and even with the familiar species, ships, technology, and whatnot . . . "Star Wars" and zombies just don't seem to mix.
Don't get me wrong; the writing is excellent and gripping. I was so wrapped up in the story that I powered through the whole (admittedly shorter-than-standard) book in the same afternoon I got it. But it just doesn't FEEL right. Like Jeter's "Bounty Hunter Wars" Trilogy and "The Crystal Star," this novel just sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the field.
But purely on the merits of Joe's writing, I'd like to see him produce another "Star Wars" novel, so long as there is not a single trace of The "Z" Word. There's bound to be lots of creepy horror-type stuff he could explore and convey with his talent that wouldn't involve ravenous revenants. Even a straight sci-fi would be welcome. But for all his talent and knowledge, this book came off to me like "The Star Wars Hallowe'en Special." (It even mentions Wookiees and Life Day!) No, Mr. Schreiber is a "Star Wars" fan and a pretty darn good writer, so I think he definitely deserves another chance in this fictional universe -- so long as we get something a little more in keeping with the rest of the novels to date.
If this had been a pure zombie tale, I would've given it five stars, but as it feels like a zombie tale shoehorned uncomfortably into the "Star Wars" universe, I'm afraid I had to rank it somewhat lower. Opinion seems to be blatantly polarised around this novel. A few people, like me, do not care for it much, and some have been quite vehement in their rejection of it. Many other people in various internet forums seem to have gotten quite a kick out of this book, and you may, too. I haven't seen much feedback where people could take it or leave it (or maybe I'm not checking enough opinion sites). Still, the best thing you can do is to read as many of these reviews as possible to decide if this might be the type of book you like, and hope you don't pick up too many spoilers along the way.
So, to recap: superb zombie story, bad "Star Wars" story -- at least as far as I'm concerned.