THE WALKING DEAD: RISE OF THE GOVERNOR
Written by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga
Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin Press
$24.99, 308 Pages
I recently received the new Walking Dead novel as an early Christmas present and enjoyed it immensely, finishing it up within just a few days of receiving it.
The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor is the "first in a series of novels exploring the origins of fan favorite characters from the Walking Dead universe." For this first novel, Kirkman chose the most evil character from the comic book series: Philip Blake, "The Governor." Readers of the comic series know that Blake spent several issues doing his best to destroy Rick Grimes and his group of survivors, through kidnapping, murder and torture, until his reign of terror was finally ended by one of his own people. However, for several years since that storyline ended, unanswered questions remain: What drove a devoted family man to such extremes, and what did Philip Blake experience that eventually turned him into a soulless monster?
This book not only answers those questions, but also succeeds in what most fans would think is nearly impossible: making the reader feel empathy for Philip Blake.
One of the enjoyable aspects about the book that made it feel a little more "real" for me were the references to the internet and social networking, both of which gradually went away, as conditions worsened in the weeks following the outbreak.
(The following is a selected passage from the book)
Nick is still keeping tabs on the radio, TV, and Internet...and like the failing bodily functions of a terminal patient, the media seems to be sparking out one organ at a time. By this point, most radio stations are playing either recorded programming or useless emergency information. TV networks - the ones on basic cable that are still up and running - are now resorting to either twenty-four hour automated civil defense annoucements or inexplicable, incongruous reruns of banal late-night informercials.
By the third day, Nick realizes that most of the radio dial is static, most of basic cable is snow, and the Wi-Fi in the house is gone. No dial-up connections are working, and the regular phone calls Nick has been making to emergency numbers - which, up to this point, have all played back recordings - are now sending back the classic "f--- you" from the phone company: The number you have dialed is not available at this time, please try again later.
The novel moves along very quickly, introducing readers to many fascinating characters, none of which are around very long, due in part to the nomadic existence of the Blake family and their two companions.
Rise of the Governor is a great start to what I hope will be a long running collection of novels featuring individual characters from The Walking Dead. With the series on its way to the 100th issue in 2012, there are a wealth of characters to draw upon for future novels, and I'm looking forward to see who gets picked for the next book.