Home > Book, Genre, horror, Review > Book Review: The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga (Series, #1)

Book Review: The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga (Series, #1)

Silhouettes of two men and a girl standing against the Atlanta city skyine.Summary:
The first in a prequel trilogy that relates how the baddest villain of The Walking Dead’s zombie apocalypse came to be–not just how he came to rule Woodbury, but how he became an evil sociopath.

Review:
Wow. Just wow.  If I could be a good book blogger and just say that I would, but I can’t so I suppose I must attempt to put my love for this book into words.

First of all, it’s important to know that this is sort of a prequel to The Walking Dead graphic novels.  It’s the origin story of The Governor (aka one of the most evil comic book villains ever).  Only instead of sticking to his graphic novel format, Kirkman, with the assistance of Bonansinga, went with the written word.  Now, I was offered this book as an audiobook, and I have to say this really affected my reading of it.  The reader, Fred Berman, does an absolutely amazing job.  He has a natural standard American accent, but seamlessly slips into a Southern drawl when the characters speak.  Beyond this though he is able to bring the anguish and tensity to the survival scenes that is necessary without seeming melodramatic.  It reminded me of being read to by my own father when I was a little girl.  I found myself choosing to curl up with the audiobook over many other activities.  So.  I’m not sure if the experience is the same reading it yourself.  I do know that listening to the audiobook is a remarkable experience.

Now, this is a zombie apocalypse horror novel about an evil man.  It gets uncomfortable.  Kirkman and Bonansinga bring us inside the minds of men warped by situations and psychiatric problems alike.  It’s not pretty.  It makes you squirm.  But it’s supposed to.  Some reviewers have accused this book of being misogynistic because bad things seem to happen an awful lot to the female characters.  I have a couple of things to say about that.  First of all, hello, do you live in this world?  Because women have to survive a lot of bad shit.  Second, this is an apocalypse.  Think of it as a war zone.  Do women get molested, raped, murdered, treated as less strong and unequal?  Absolutely.  The book isn’t misogynistic.  It’s realistic about how a south torn apart by zombies would treat women.  The way to determine if a book in this sort of situation is misogynistic is to look at how the author treats the women.  Does he present them as hysterical, over-reacting?  Do they refuse to stand up for themselves?  I can unequivocally say that although horrible things happen to the women in this book, they fight for themselves.  It is therefore not misogynistic, but realistic.

Now one thing that probably a lot of people wonder is is the story predictable?  We already know who The Governor is and that he keeps his zombie daughter as a pet.  That would seem to remove the ability for the authors to surprise us at all.  I am happy to say that in spite of knowing the end result, this story kept me on the edge of my seat.  Some readers didn’t like all of the surprises and twists.  Personally, I feel that they brought the novel up a notch in both talent and enjoyability.

Overall, this is a wonderful addition to The Walking Dead canon.  Fans of the graphic novel series will not be disappointed, although fans of the tv show seem to be taken aback by it.  All I can say is that the books don’t pull any punches and are not for the squeamish.  If you don’t want to be challenged, stick to tv.  Everyone else should scoop this up as soon as possible.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review and a giveaway

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  1. April 19, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    I’m dying to read this! My manager of all people got me into the television series this year, and has been trying to lend me her graphic novels all year as well. I’m all for reading them, but I just wanted to be finished with my semester first. So now I think I’ll have to buy this first 🙂

    I already know a lot of what you mention by not for the squeamish because I have a little “spoiler bird,” aka my manager, chirping at me about all the details haha. I’m not sure why, but I feel I may be slightly opposite when it comes to what I can handle or not. I am not ok with most horror movies. The Walking Dead tv show really isn’t bad, so I don’t have a problem. But reading horror novels, even with some of the most gruesome or horrendous things I can handle. Isn’t your imagination supposed to be the worst? Hmmph… *shrugs*

    • April 20, 2012 at 11:41 am

      Lol your manager sounds like me! A book purist 😉

      I suppose whether you should start with this or the graphic novels depends on if you’re more bothered by imagining something people talk about or seeing it. There’s a lot more seeing in the graphic novels, obviously.

      As a fan of all things horror and grotesque, though, I must admit I have a hard time understanding that dilemma so many others feel! *giggle*

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