The Road to Woodbury (The Walking Dead) Paperback – 25 Oct 2012
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A perfect introduction . . . and a great service to all those folks who've walked with these zombies before. (StarburstMagazine.com)
The novel makes for an exciting, grippingly intense and at times gruesome one-off read. (BookGeeks.co.uk)
The novel hooked me from the first page . . . begs to be read. (Geeksofdoom.com)
First came the award-winning comic book series. Then the record-breaking TV show. The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury is an adventure set in that same bleak world.See all Product description
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As the novel begins, Lilly is living in a makeshift encampment with her friend Josh. Josh is busy hammering stakes into tents to secure the area when the dead attack the compound. Josh is left to tackle the onslaught as Lilly runs and hides, unable to face the threat. But as the threat is soon dealt with and Josh emerges unscathed, Lilly can't cope with the guilt of leaving him to defend himself. By some miracle, Lilly saves a few children hiding with them, but one of the teenagers is turned, and the father blames Lilly for being unable to save his girl. During the funeral he takes her aside and attacks her, breaking her ribs and Josh dives in to protect her. Following these events, Josh, Lilly and a small number of survivors leave the compound and head off in the wilderness, which will lead them eventually to Woodbury.
All of this action takes place in just a couple of chapters, and this is just right, as their arrival at Woodbury and the development of that community is what grips the reader. The threat of winter is approaching, the small group entering Woodbury has nothing, and they have to rely on the community to keep them warm, safe and alive, away from the walking dead.
This novel is very much about establishing the character dynamics as much as the action taking place. Speaking of action; it is bloody, visceral and brutal. Yet the text itself is also poetic and poignant at times. Bonansinga's text, in conjunction with Kirkman's story creates a truly enjoyable background to the comic books and the TV series, enabling us more insight into the Governor's motivations, the depth of variety of characters in Woodbury and the tension slowly building in the compound.
Lilly, who is the focus viewpoint of the novel, grows into a strong, powerful woman who jumps up from the page, just as Josh, who is physically powerful, is quite a gentle character yet a vibrant presence in the novel. At the end of the book characters have changed, developed and adopted new priorities. This is a good, solid adaptation that adds to the whole Walking Dead universe.
This story is much, much darker than the one on TV, and Woodbury a much more scary place, as though all the worst characters have got themselves in one place. Not so viewer-friendly at all! The book starts off with main character Lilly in a camp that goes wrong, then leaving to go on the road with Josh (who reminded me of Tyreese) and Bob Stookey, who is nothing like the Bob Stookey in the AMC series apart from the fact that he's a nice guy who has a drink problem. Eventually, they end up at Woodbury. It's all most sinister and dangerous, but I was glad to see Martinez there as a 'goodie'; I always thought he would have been one of the decent guys if fate had dumped him with Rick's crowd instead of The Governor's.
I really enjoyed this book, the tension and suspense made me abandon the other things I should have done this afternoon, and I'm now going to start the next in the series - The Fall of The Governor, in which, I believe, some of the characters we know and love will appear.
The main character, Lilly, is an engaging young woman with many of the frailties that one would expect of anyone thrust into a Zombie Apocalypse, and as so instantly grabs the reader's attention as we live through the increasingly bleak world along with her.
All in all this is a good read even if you aren't familiar with the WD World, and works just as well as a one-off read - 4 stars out of 5. It loses one point for a rather weak ending which feels somewhat forced.
NB - There are a few concepts which TWD and other Zombie stories haven't covered which I'm saving for my own Zombie novel when I get around to it!
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