on 5 July 2012
Ive been a huge fan of The Walking Dead for years. I got into the comics about a year before the program aired in the US and I have been addicted ever since. Naturally, upon hearing about a novel based on The Walking Dead and in particular, The Governer, I couldnt wait to get reading.
The story itself is absolutely superb. Exactly what you would expect from the mind of Robert Kirkman. I read the entire book in a little over 2 days because I simply could not put it down, excepting real life intrusions and sleep! It has twists, it has turns, it has character development in bundles! The problem I have with it is the writing style. Everything is written in a 3rd person present tense, which makes it seem more like you are reading a script than a novel. Maybe this wont be a big problem for many people, but I found it very difficult to get into because of this.
Other issues include the overuse of simile. Sometimes I just wanted the author to describe the scene to me and explain what the characters were seeing, but instead he uses yet another barely descriptive simile. This overuse had me rolling my eyes before I had even gotten halfway through the book. Likewise, I feel as though the author wrote this book with a thesaurus and medical dictionary on constant standby. I like to think that my vocabulary is fairly varied and is not often that I have to use the built in dictionary in my Kindle, but I had to constantly check the definitions of many words in this book. I feel as though the author could have gotten his point across much better had he stuck to the use of simple language. After all, the book revolves around simple men simply trying to survive in a world that has all but ended.
Its well worth a read, but I really hope that in future novels that a different author is used, or he at least adjusts his writing style for the material.
on 17 January 2012
I can not encourage people enough to read this book, I have read the Walking dead Compendium 1 and am painfully waiting for Compendium 2 to be released (hopefully not to long now), and I ordered Rise of the Governor when I was only half way trough in anticipation ready for when I finished the Compendium. Well this book is one of the few thing's in life that brought me so close to tears that I shocked my self, the way Jay and Robert describe the events is so hard hitting that you can't help but feel for the band of ever strained survivors (even when you know what the future holds for a certain individual, you still feel for guy). I hope they continue with the novelization of the other individuals from the graphic novels, a Michonne prequel would be amazing. All in all a delight from cover to cover (I say delight I mean truly disturbing, in the best possible way).
on 7 February 2012
'Rise of The Governor' is the story of the Blake brothers, Philip and Brian who are making their way to Atlanta with Philip's daughter, Penny. Seventy~two hours after the dead began to come back to life, Philip, his daughter Penny, his friends, Bobby and Nick, and Philip's older brother, Brian, the weaker of the two brothers leave their home town and head towards to Atlanta where there are rumours of a rescue centre. The story follows the group as they face the unknown and try to understand what has happened to the world around them.
'Rise of the Governor is the first novel of a trilogy exploring the back stories of the characters from The Walking Dead graphic novels. The back story of 'The Governor' is a interesting one, the group focus on surviving on a day to day basis while Philip fights his inner demons. The story is very intense and you will be quickly drawn into the story.
This is the first book I have read about The Walking Dead and I enjoyed it. (I am planning to invest in 'The Walking Dead Compendium ~ Volume 1' as soon as possible) and I am an avid viewer of the TV series. I liked knowing the background of the man who eventually becomes The Governor (one of the most popular characters of the series), the experiences he faces and the choices he must make to survI've.
I am looking forward to next instalment.
I have been a huge Walking Dead fan for a while, love the comic, love the show. I was reluctant to read the book, as already having watched the show and knowing who the govenor is, what he does and what happens to him, I felt I disliked the character too much to read a book where the antihero is made to be like able. I am glad I gave in and started this series of books. The book starts days after the outbreak begins, and much like the comic or show, it follows the day to day survival of Phillip Blake, his daughter Penny, brother Brian and his two friends as they head to Atlanta in search of a refugee centre they heard about. It highlights the triumphs and the falls of the group, the survival instinct amongst the group and you get a good feeling of who the govenor is and why he is as he is. I must say the end surprised me, without giving too much away - I did not think the govenor would have been the person he was prior to becoming the "govenor" and evil leader of the Woodbury colony. And painfully, I did finish the book realizing I was rooting for the govenor.
There are obvious discrepancies from this book to the show. Notably April, Tara & their father. It's very similar to the show, but a different order and slightly different situation.
It is very much like the comics and the show. Verbally graphic, violence described in graphic detail and constant reference to the part of the brain they were destroying when killing a walker (or biter as the Blake group begins to refer to them as). If you love the walking dead I would highly recommend!
on 20 December 2012
The 3 star rating of "It's okay" is apt for this story. Plenty will rave about how good a zombie tale this is, and whilst there are some good sections, overall it failed to be the enjoyable read I hoped.
Having watched The Walking Dead TV series, and being an avid zombie/apocalypse fan, I assumed this would be a quality story. Not an unreasonable expectation considering the title and how it relates to the rest of The Walking Dead franchise.
The style of writing felt quite jarring on many occasions. It seemed hurried, almost like an unpolished draft. The characters were okay, though they lacked something I can't quite put my finger on. I didn't feel sympathy for them or root for them either, well, for the most part. Without giving away any spoilers it wasn't until the last dozen pages that the pace, flow and quality of writing really started to shine.
Many scenes lacked punch. Near the start for example, when the band of survivors are heading through the city, the narrator leads the reader along, builds up their hopes and excitement, and then fails to reveal why the characters react they way they do. They look. They seem frightened. But the reader isn't told why, not all the time.
Assuming the reader can use their imagination to fill in the blanks is all when and good but sometimes they need more than a meagre hint. The characters had little motivation, flitting from one situation to another without an aim or purpose. At times it felt like the narrator had written a list of bullet points for various high and low points then connected the dots.
I found that where I wanted more information to fuel my imagination there wasn't enough. And yet in contrast there's a lot of irrelevant details that don't help the plot and push the story on, pointless facts the reader doesn't need to know in order to enjoy the story. Often there's a lot of repetition, the reader doesn't need to be reminded that Brian is a loser, or that Philip is a strong, hardened, resourceful type of guy. And it's never explained why Philip starts to lose his mind. I wanted to find a reason why he is fascinated with the dead, and thinking back it seemed like those moments were poor plot mechanics for his actions after the attack on the farm house.
I'd say the first half of the story is pretty poor - plot, characters, narrative style, dialogue and so on. I couldn't drop the feeling that the writer was rushing to get to the second half. I'd say when they find the farm out in the country, after leaving the city and the apartment, is where the story seems to improve. It finds it's feet somewhat and the pace is better.
Like I said I really enjoyed the last few chapters, it's a shame the lead up to them lacked the same punch and drive. I am tempted to give the follow up a chance because maybe Jay Bonansinga was simply finding his feet with this story and the next one will be better.
For die hard zombie fans I'd suggest you come to this story without much expectation, and enjoy the romp through zombie land. Those looking for a well written, well thought out apocalyptic story with a reason and a purpose, should look elsewhere. I suggest Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, Outpost by Adam Baker or Day By Day Armageddon by J.L Bourne.
on 18 December 2012
I'm a fan of The Walking Dead TV show. I love it. I love Zombie things in general so when I spotted this book I had to give it a go and hope it wasn't just a cash-in from the success of the TV show. Fortunately it isn't.
Some of the zombie books I have read go for the gore factor, whilst others have tried to add a little comedy banter or even supernatural powers. This book sticks to the format that has made The Walking Dead so good. It concentrates on the survivors lives with the occasional bit of zombie action thrown in. What would people do if a zombie virus broke out? The answer is that different people would react differently. Some would panic and continue to panic; some would panic and then start to organise things; some would go crazy; some would look for a leader figure to emerge; and others would see it as an opportunity to seize some form of power. The characters in this story fill these roles extremely well and the way they change as the story progresses is handled with skill.
At one stage I thought that the sudden stop to particular characters involvement in the run of things was a little disappointing. However, the story is following one small group, and once they leave this section of their travels behind they are not going to see these people again. So even though you want to know what happens to these people you don't find out. It's exactly as it would be if you were part the main group. (I hope that makes sense). In a way it helps to make it feel like you are there witnessing the events and then moving on never to see certain things again.
The writing is not perfect. Occasionally there are little annoyances such as a few instances where the author uses the same way of describing events multiple times within a short time. I found myself wishing he could just use some other way of saying it, or not saying it at all. These are just minor quibbles though and are quickly forgotten.
This is a great story and apparently explains where one of the key characters from series 3 originates from. This only makes me more excited about watching series 3 on TV.
on 18 November 2012
I have seen seasons 1 and 2 of the TV series and enjoyed them. I like a good apocalypse story and was surprised that this book failed to meet the mark.
The fight scenes are poorly described; the authors' appear to have referenced a medical dictionary to try and impress the reader with exotic names for impact points rather than focusing on describing the action leading up to the impact.
The author places chapter breaks at cliff hangers in the storyline rather than at natural breaks in the narrative. This style should be reserved for trying to coax an audience back after an advert break rather than used in a book.
The characters stagger along from place to place without ever really becoming developed. I never became invested in any of them to care about their fate. The reasoning behind their actions is never adequately explained. Lots of loose threads are never tide off (Where did April go? What was happening at the racetrack?)
The book contains some foul language, I accept an author using it to convey a character that lacks the vocabulary to express themselves eloquently without resorting to expletives however the _narrator_ uses foul language at times which suggests a limited literary aptitude on the part of the author.
Even assuming we accept the premise of the book (a zombie apocalypse) the book is still set in the real world and therefore the physical rules of the world should still apply. Hitting a single large mammal at speed with a car-sized vehicle will usually result in significant damage or cause the driver to lose control, doing so with dozens of large mammals in quick succession is unrealistic and the idea of doing so with a motorbike requires more suspension of disbelief than I'm willing to offer.
People need water, the two gallons that the group secures at one point wouldn't have been enough for them to drink for a day let alone keep them going for weeks. Simple technical errors like this suggest a lack of proper review/editing.
But it's not all bad. The authors have the courage to kill off some of the main characters. Unlike too many comparable novels; the group don't all work with one mind. We get to see at least a semi-realistic breakdown of friendships (and sanity) in the group due to excessive stress. While the individual opinions are not well expressed, the group disagrees over most decisions. Without asking the questions directly we are show a situation that makes us ponder just how far does loyalty go? In a world populated with mortal danger at every turn; trying to survive alone would be unwise but at what point do we accept that the dangers within the group exceed the external ones?
"Rise of the Governor" just scrapes 3 stars, I won't be rushing to buy the sequel.
on 11 August 2012
This book is good, at its best when describing its battles with the Walking Dead and just survival in general. Despite the action scenes which are very well depicted given the lack of pictures that you get with the graphic novel or the TV show, the characters seem in greatest danger whenever they stop somewhere and those are the points where you can get bogged down in the novel.
You can get used to the third person present tense description (with characters talking normally) after a couple of chapters, but it gets slightly repetitive that safe havens aren't always ruined due to the Dead. The second half of series 2 of the TV series had the feel of a Western and so does this novel when looking at the high points and the aftermath, in fact one character calls it "The Wild West" just in case you don't get that impression from reading it. Both main sections of the ending feel rushed, but after the constant journey the characters have been on, physically and mentally, at least one part of the final chapters felt tragic and inevitable. It's like a JJ Abrams TV series where you've enjoyed the ride and then the ending doesn't pay off because you end up hitting a wall when it stops. You then have to go back to the visual world of the comic (Trade Paperback 3 onwards) or the TV series coming in October 2012.
The next book after this one promises more detail related to what you see in the third TV series and Trade Paperback, but two novels around that one point (even if it's based on some of the best loved comics by fans) are enough. If there's a third novel coming in October 2013, hopefully that will be about a different point in time given that Robert Kirkman has nine years of storylines he could expand upon.
on 26 June 2012
I absolutely love Zombie films, or as they are increasingly been known as, Infected films. However, this love has somehow not transferred itself to the new explosion in Zombie literature. `World War Z' is undoubtedly a masterpiece combining Zombie lore with a fake historical accuracy, but the rest of the genre has been passable at best (perhaps Adam Baker's `Outpost' being the exception). With Robert Kirkman's `The Walking Dead' graphic series and TV show doing so well, a tie in novel must be a cut above the rest? Unfortunately, it was another shambling corpse that you could not pick out from a crowd of the undead.
`The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor' follows Brian Blake as he flees a Zombie outbreak with his brother, niece and two friends. It acts as an undead road movie as the crew set off in hopes of surviving. They meet plenty of deadites on the way, but also a few humans. The Zombie moments themselves were good and co-authors Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga have a great descriptive way about them - gory poetry at times. The characters are also well developed, but like in the TV show they get a little too emotional and agro at times for my liking, preferring to talk things over rather than concentrating on survival. Some people will like this deep character thought, I find it all a little new age for my tastes.
The main issue with the book is that everything seems to be in constant transition, moving on to the next place. Almost as if it were a set of smaller stories, rather than one that needed to be told in single outing. Perhaps Kirkman had a drawer of discarded vignettes for his comic series that he decided to splice together into a novel? Whilst moments of `Rise of the Governor' impress in their visceral description, as a whole it feels a little flat and deadpan.
Anyone who's read the graphic novels will appreciate that Philip Blake, AKA 'The Governor', isn't just a not very nice man who sits around going 'mwahahahahaaa'. He's actually an incredibly complex character, surrounded by lots of hints which point to an interesting back-story. This novel is the first in a series which tells that story, starting about 4 days after the outbreak. But it's told without Adlard's art or Egg from This Life smouldering away.
Frankly, I was worried that this would be a badly-written cash-in like the mostly awful Doctor Who & Judge Dredd novels but in the end, I picked it up because it was rather cheap & had Kirkman down as co-author. And I'm certainly glad I did, as the story progresses at much the same pace as it does in the comics & is totally faithful to The Governor we've already come to know &, er, love. It begins with Philip Blake, his brother, daughter & a couple of their friends heading towards Atlanta, where the media says a refugee centre has been set up. But when they stop off at Wiltshire Estates, things start to go quite wrong & step by step, Philip comes to the conclusion that he'll have to become an even bigger monster than the walking dead to survive.
Like the graphic novels, it was an exciting read which I plowed through quickly & Philip's gradual change was nicely handled. However, I was slightly dissatisfied with the 'twist' at the end, which I literally predicted after the first page as it's something of a modern cliche. It was also unnecessary & somewhat hard to swallow in my view. In fairness, it was also rather well handled but it's the one thing which stopped me from giving this book 5 stars.
Surprisingly well written & faithful to the graphic novels & TV series, I'd highly recommend this for fans of both. However, if you've only seen the TV show, I'd say don't let the graphic novel format put you off, check those out as well as there's plenty of dark moments which they just can't get away with on television.