(2013) Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonasinga, Tor, £7.99, pbk, 245pp, ISBN 978-0-330-54138-1
The US has succumbed to the zombie hordes with only a very few isolated groups still surviving by scavenging. One of the largest of these has fortified part of the small town of Woodbury. This group owes their survival to the sheer strength of will and muscle of one man, Phillip Blake. However Blake was not the most balanced of individuals before the rise of the zombies. Now, amidst the detritus of a failed civilisation, Blake has become decidedly unhinged if not an out-and-out psychopath.
A scavenging team from Woodbury sees a helicopter come down and they manage to rescue a survivor from the crash. And then other survivors stumble across Woodbury. These newcomers soon realise that Blake has a sadistic side and is running Woodbury more for his own perverted ends than some greater good for the surviving community as a whole
This novel is the third in four books that focus on the character of 'the Governor' from the original Robert Kirkman comic series and collected The Walking Dead graphic novel, that in turn has been turned into a successful TV series.
That these books focus on the Governor as the chief protagonist (and not the former policeman as in the comic strip and TV series) gives us a fresh take on the world of The Walking Dead. Arguably, taking this body of work as a whole (the comics and television series), Robert Kirkman has done as much for the zombie sub-genre as Romero has with his films. That he has chosen to focus on the Governor for the spin-off novelizations may seem a little peculiar. Having thought about this, my conclusion (which may be wrong) is that Kirkman was not entirely satisfied with the television series' portrayal of this character. Certainly the events in this book are even darker and far more sadistic than those in the TV series and probably TV censors are to blame.
As for these books' relation with the series, with The Fall of the Governor Part One we do first encounter characters from the series about halfway through, and so the books and the TV series are beginning to mesh.
The Fall of the Governor Part One will certainly appeal to fans of both The Walking Dead comics and television series, and as a quartet of books, they are also self-standing and so can also be read by those unfamiliar with The Walking Dead stories in its other media formats. However newcomers to The Walking Dead are firmly advised to read the first book in the quartet, The Walking Dead Rise of the Governor before the others.
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