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Book Review: The Walking Dead Volume 15 by Robert Kirkman (Series, #8) (Graphic Novel)

Blueish snowy walking dead cover with zombies.Summary:
Everyone’s world was rocked when the zombies got through the community’s fence.  Will they respond by banding together or falling apart?

Review:
Ok, before I review, the numberings need a bit of explanation.  Comic books are issued very similarly to academic journals. So there are skinny issues that come out every few weeks (generally). A few of these bound together make a volume. A bunch of these bound together make a book (what we call in academia a “bound journal.”)  I *was* reading the books of The Walking Dead but then I caught up to the author.  I decided I didn’t want to buy issues, because they’re flimsy and you read through them very quickly, so I’m now reading the volumes.  I hope that makes some semblance of sense.  This will probably be the case throughout the rest of the series, because you have to wait a long time for the books, and I just am too impatient for that.  My reviews will then be much shorter, because a book contains a few volumes, and I am now reviewing one volume at a time.  Moving right along to the review!

This volume is basically cleaning up the mess from the action of the previous one and prepping for the action of the next one.  Classic in-between chapter.  What this volume really reminded me of is the infamous “Live together or die alone” speech by Jack in Lost.  In fact, this volume sees Rick basically trying to turn into Jack and failing miserably.  Long-time readers know I’ve never liked the guy, so personally I got a lot of schadenfreude out of seeing him be so pathetic in this volume.

That said, the survivors are definitely going for a new strategy, which will lend itself well to future fresh storylines, which any long-running series needs.

Fans of the sex will be quite happy with the developments in that area. Drama! Intrigue! Changes of partners!

Overall, it’s an enjoyable entry, if not mind-blowing, that perfectly sets things up for the next volume. Fans won’t be disappointed!

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Newbury Comics

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Previous Books in Series:
The Walking Dead, Book One (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Two (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Three (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Four (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Five (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Six (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Seven (review)

Book Review: The Walking Dead, Book Seven by Robert Kirkman (Series, #7) (Graphic Novel)

March 7, 2012 1 comment

Man in yellow surrounded by zombies.Summary:
The people at the settlement quickly discover that the new group headed by Rick has a lot more knowledge, experience, and ability with the zombies than they themselves do.  But they also snap easily.  Is their twitchiness warranted or not?

Review:
I was pleasantly surprised by the direction this entry in the series went.  I was fully expecting the Rick group to be totally violent and messed up and expelled from the settlement.  Instead we see that they can sometimes over-react, but still have their humanity intact and actually have a smart level of caution.  This allows for the story within the settlement to continue on, further taking us in a fresh direction.

I am unhappy with the direction the Glenn/Maggie relationship has taken.  I don’t think their original relationship was just about having hot hot sex in the prison like both characters insinuate, and I also don’t like that Maggie is now a big ball of tears while Glenn constantly traipses off.  These were a good couple!  No reason to ruin them, agh!  Plus, how often to do we get a healthy Asian Male/White Female relationship in books?  Approximately never?  Can we please just leave Maggie/Glenn alone?  *sighs*  However, I am happy that Maggie eventually stands up to Rick in protecting Sophia, so I will withhold judgment until the next installment.

What everyone is hoping for, of course, is an excellent zombie scene, and this entry delivers.  We have people crossing on a rope over a zombie hoard, the hoard invading the camp, and an epic fight off the zombies scene.  These all have the excellent artwork we’ve come to expect.

The ending of the book had a great message and left me hungry for more. (haha)  In fact I just may have to subscribe to the comics. *twitch*

Overall, this is a great entry in the series that takes the story on an unexpected twist plus has pages and pages of zombies for fans to drool over.

5 out of 5 stars

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Previous Books in Series:
The Walking Dead, Book One (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Two (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Three (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Four (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Five (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Six (review)

Book Review: The Walking Dead, Book Five by Robert Kirkman (Series, #5) (Graphic Novel)

January 23, 2012 2 comments

Zombies surrounding a purple person.Summary:
After the slaughter at the prison, Carl and Rick are alone in the open, keeping a constant vigil against the walking dead.  They are not alone for long, though, quickly finding Michonne and the other survivors.  Soon yet another group of strangers stumbles upon them.  These ones, though, claim that one among them is a scientist who knows how the whole plague started, and they’re heading to DC to put a stop to it.

Review:
This entry in the series could easily be called, “The survivors start losing their damn minds.”  Not that you can blame them, what with the constant deaths, being surrounded by zombies, and disturbingly frequent loss of limbs.  (Seriously. If I’m ever in a zombie apocalypse, I’m wearing chain mail. The amount of limbs lost is starting to freak me out).

Basically, almost everyone in the group is starting to show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, in spite of still being in the middle of trauma.  I applaud Kirkman for being realistic and including the whole going crazy bit in the storyline.  Too often in these sort of post-apocalyptic stories the people all show this unrealistic super-human strength.  Having people talking to their dead relatives, people trying to commit suicide, people pretending like some of the dead never existed, and kids becoming surprisingly cool-headed about killing are all realistic outcomes of a hypothetical scenario.  The character development at this point is basically the kids are turning cold and the adults are losing their shit.

Meanwhile, the plot has the much needed addition, finally, of a scientist.  We are being teased by a possible reason for the zombies, after finally accepting there isn’t one, and it’s awesome.

Speaking of the zombies, this book finally delivers what we haven’t really seen since book one–a zombie herd.  A horde of hundreds and hundreds of flesh-eating zombies. So much gore to look at. And each one is unique in its own way.  This is why zombie graphic novels are *fun*.

In spite of the character development and propelling of the plot forward, this entry does not have the power of the last one.  It’s hard to compete against The Governor and the loss of key characters, of course.  This book felt like the classic setting the stage for the next big event syndrome often found in series.  It’s fun, not mind-blowing, but necessary.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Public Library

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Previous Books in Series:
The Walking Dead, Book One (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Two (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Three (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Four (review)

Book Review: The Walking Dead, Book Four by Robert Kirkman (Series, #4) (Graphic Novel)

December 29, 2011 3 comments

Pregnant woman in yellow surrounded by zombies.Summary:
After escaping the horrors of Woodbury with two new additions to the group in tow, Rick, Michonne, and Glenn high-tail it back to the prison where they warn the other survivors and start prepping to defend their turf.  Meanwhile daily life goes on, including a birth, more missing limbs, and a wedding.

Review:
This entry in the series is mind-blowingly awesome.  Kirkman demonstrates that he not only is full of surprises, but also pulls no punches.  Our group of survivors have their world torn completely apart. And it’s delicious.

First, we have the return of The Governor, and not as a zombie as I’m sure I wasn’t the only one suspecting.  He is back missing an arm, an eye, and (I think it’s safe to assume) a dick.  This all just makes him even more ferocious and terrifying than before, although that comes as no surprise considering that he is now the man with no penis.  But yes, the full-page shot of him arriving at the prison in top of a tank? Fucking. Awesome.

There’s also a lot more zombie action this time around, although I do wonder why it is in pretty much every post-apocalyptic zombie books, no one calls them what they are?  The prison folks say roamers, and the Woodbury folks say biters. Um, hello? They are zombies. Be realistic, people. Distancing yourself from your fears won’t help any.  In any case, those of us who are huge fans of zombies are pleasantly greeted with many more and varied drawings of them, as well as attacks on people.  Zombie gnawing on a dude’s leg? Yes, please.

On a more serious note, the theme of this entry is war.  It’s war on a small scale, but it is still war.  This is actually quite cool, because it allows Kirkman to show the dangers of war and truthiness on an easier to understand, up-close-and-personal level.  The Governor is smart.  He manipulates his people (except those closest to him) into believing that those at the prison are the type of evil that he, in fact, is.  They thus go in hell-bent on murdering innocent people, who then have to shoot back to defend themselves.  The most powerful moment of this, of course, is when a woman from Woodbury realizes she has killed a baby and essentially loses her mind from the instantaneous guilt.  It’s a powerful lesson (or reminder) to readers presented in a unique package.  The distancing of the situation from reality by the presence of zombies only allows the clarity of the concept of an unjust war to really sink in.

This is absolutely the best entry in the series so far.  I cannot wait to find out what happens to the demolished survivors next.  Fans of the earlier books should pick this one up asap.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Public Library

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Previous Books in Series:
The Walking Dead, Book One (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Two (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Three (review)

Book Review: The Walking Dead, Book Three by Robert Kirkman (Series, #3) (Graphic Novel)

December 27, 2011 4 comments

Zombies surrounding a man in green.Summary:
The rag-tag band of survivors have adjusted to living in the prison.  One day they spot a helicopter go down in flames.  Rick, Michonne, and Glenn head out to check on it and end up finding another group of survivors whose leader is known as The Governor.  Unfortunately for them, not everyone has maintained their humanity amid the walking dead.

Review:
This entry in the series puts the graphic in graphic novel.  We’re talking mutilation, torture, and rape.  Also the usual murders and zombies.  It is not a book for those disturbed by those things or who find them gratuitous.  However, for those of us who love violence all up in our literature, it’s a squee-inducing violence fest.  Although you may not want to read it in public just in case someone glances over your shoulder during the rape and/or torture scenes.

The addition of another group of survivors where everything is not hunky dory and evil has arisen was exactly what this series needed.  It shows the very dark possibilities that the group we’ve been following have thus far managed to avoid.  It puts things like Tyreese and Rick’s fight in the previous book into perspective.  Woodbury and The Governor also demonstrate how key Rick has been to the group’s survival and maintenance of a healthy community.  All it takes is one bad apple wanting the power for a bad culture to spring up.  It’s a good lesson that’s taught here in a subtle way.

I thought long and hard about how I feel about Michonne’s rape.  At first I was angry about it with reactions ranging from, “she’s so strong; it doesn’t make sense” to “oh sure, rape the only black woman *eye-roll*.”  But the more I thought about it I realized I was being unfair.  In a world gone to hell and full of evil rape is going to happen.  Rape happens every day now let alone in a post-apocalyptic world, and Kirkman manages to show it in a graphic novel in a way that is respectful to the victim, which I am sure was not easy to do.  The concept of what is happening is clear, but at the same time, the drawings focus in on the victim’s emotions and reactions.  Similarly, Michonne is the logical choice because she is the most adventurous of the women.  She does not stay at home with the kids while the men run out and do things.  She’s a strong woman, yes, but being strong doesn’t stop bad things from happening to you.  That said, if you are a person who finds rape scene triggering, you should definitely skip this entry in the series and get someone to sum it up for you.

Overall, this is a strong entry that keeps the series fresh and introduces more drama into the post-apocalyptic world.  Fans of the first two books will not be disappointed by this one.  Highly recommended.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Public Library

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Previous Books in Series:
The Walking Dead, Book One (review)
The Walking Dead, Book Two (review)

Book Review: The Walking Dead, Book 1 by Robert Kirkman (Series, #1) (Graphic Novel)

November 21, 2011 7 comments

Black white and red silhouettes.Summary:
When cop Rick wakes up from a coma brought on by a gun shot wound, he discovers a post-apocalyptic mess and zombies everywhere.  He sets off for Atlanta in search of his wife, Lori, and son, Carl, and soon teams up with a rag-tag group of survivors camped just outside of Atlanta.

Review:
I just want to point out that this review is purely focused on the graphic novel, not the tv series.  I haven’t even seen more than 10 minutes of the tv show, so remember this is about the books not the show.  Thanks!  Moving along….

I almost gave up on this within the first few pages, because COME ON.  Can we PLEASE get over the whole oh I had a coma and then woke up to a zombie apocalypse trope, please?  First, it is so highly statistically unlikely that it was laughable the first few times it was used in my beloved dystopian novels, but at this point it just looks lazy.  Come up with some other way to start the apocalypse, ok?  I don’t care if your main character is out of touch with reality for a few days because he’s on a drug-fueled sex streak.  At least it would be different!  Also, a cop, really?  You want me to root for a cop?  And everyone trusts him because he’s a cop?  A cop is the last person I would put in charge if I was a member of a rag-tag bunch of survivors; I’m just saying.

Once we move on beyond the initial set-up though to the group of survivors caravaning their way across America, the story vastly improves.  The people are real.  They’re scared.  They’re angry.  The snap easily.  They hook up with whoever is convenient (and not necessarily young and hot).  They teach the kids to use guns.  It’s everything we know and love about post-apocalypse stories.

The artwork is good.  Scenes are easy to interpret; characters are easy to tell apart.  The zombies are deliciously grotesque, although I did find myself giggling at them saying “guk.”  Guk?  Really?  Ok….

The best part, though, is the people that in your everyday life you are just like, come on, god, bolt of lighting, right here?  They’re the ones who get eaten by zombies!  It is excellent.  So that really annoying chick in camp?  Totally gets her head bit by a zombie.  It’s cathartic and awesome.

The cast is diverse, and no, the black guy is not the first to be eaten (or the red shirt guy for that matter).  It wouldn’t kill Kirkman to be a little less heteronormative, but he’s still got time and more survivors to add.

Overall, this is a good first entry in a zombie apocalypse series.  Kirkman needs to be more careful to stay away from expected tropes in the genre and bring more of the creativity it is apparent he is capable of.  I recommend it to fans of zombies, obviously. 😉

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Public Library

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