The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman
My rating: (4 / 5)
While I’ve never read the graphic novel series, I’ve been hooked on the Walking Dead TV series since the premiere, and when I learned that a couple of prequel novels had been published, detailing the story of the Governor and his people, I couldn’t wait to plunge right in!
Brian and Philip are brothers. While Brian is the elder of the two, Philip is the natural leader; larger both in physical size and in leadership presence, he even refers to his brother with the diminutive nickname of “Sport”. When the apocolypse hits, widower Philip heads home to check on his parents, along with his 7 year old daughter Penny. Instead of Mom and Dad, he finds his big brother cowering in fear, and snatches him up to join his team, supplemented by two of Philip’s high school friends, Bobby and Nick.
Together, this rag-tag team of men – along with the tempering influence of a small girl – have to outrun, outgun and outlive zombies and violent survivors, while Philip tries to find a place where he can create a life for his daughter so that she can grow up with some sense of peace.
I was really fascinated by the character development in this novel. I had long wondered what had driven The Governor to become the man he was in the series, and this was a very reasonable and sympathetic story. Yes, I really did grow to have sympathy for the man! His backstory is horrifying and I began to see how exposure to tragedy after tragedy and heartbreak after heartbreak could scar him in the directions that it did. There’s no question that he becomes a very warped man in the end, but along the way there were many times it could have gone another way, should circumstances have been a little bit different.
The atmosphere in this book was very true to the Walking Dead series that I’m such a fan of, including the dark language and violence. It isn’t for the faint of heart. In fact, there were moments where the ick of it all turned my stomach and other moments where my heart raced and my eyes filled with tears. It is a very graphic tragedy, and it’s all laid bare on the page, sometimes quite starkly.
If you’re a fan of the Walking Dead series you’ll probably love this book. It’s also a very good stand-alone book for zombie lit fans, and there is absolutely no reason why you have to know anything about the series to enjoy these books. For fans, there will be a lot of ah-hah moments where lightbulbs go off, so perhaps they’ll like it on a different level, but it’s fully realized on it’s own as well.