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  • gilwilson 8:49 PM on February 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    “The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury” by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga 

    roadtowoodbury

    “The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury”
    by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga
    read by Fred Berman
    Published by MacMillan Audio
    Running time: 10 hours

    For the year 2013, I’m declaring February Zombie month. This is the month when the phenomenal TV series, “The Walking Dead” starts back up to finish up season 3 this month, I have just caught up to issue #106 of the comic book series and I have just finished listening to the second audiobook written as a companion to the series. I am ready for more zombies.

    The two novels written in this series coincide with the comic books and not the TV series. The first novel was “Rise of the Governor” and the sequel to that novel is this one “The Road to Woodbury.” Both novels follow the stories of two characters that were introduced early in the comic book series. The first one covered the Governor and how he became leader of the settlement called Woodbury. In the comics the Governor is much more brutal than the one portrayed in the TV series, at least so far. This time around we are told the backstory of Lilly and in part, that of a lesser characters, Bob and Martinez. In the comics Lilly is the one that puts a bullet into the head of the Governor after the attack on the prison. At first those only knowing “The Walking Dead” through the TV series may see this as a spoiler, but anyone that has read the comics knows, the TV series has branched off in directions that stray a bit from the comic book storyline enough that the TV series can go anywhere and it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen.

    The bulk of this novel is the development of the character of Lilly. When I read the comics I didn’t think too much about her character. In fact, I considered her pretty much a lesser character, but with a major role. Someone had to kill the Governor, really he had to die, so she was chosen. Apparently she was enough of a character for Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga to tell her story, and I’m glad she was. This book is a great survival story like all of the stories from all forms of “The Walking Dead” multimedia experience, but what made this novel even better for me was zombie clowns and circus performers. More on the zombie clowns later.

    Before I summarize the meat of this book, I’ve got to first talk about the reader, Fred Berman. Mr. Berman does an outstanding job of bringing this book to life. Not only does he provide each character a voice, but he is able to make all the emotions and actions of the characters come out in their voices. At times it nearly seems like this is a multi-cast performance. This book is a full audio experience thanks to the voice talents of Fred Berman.

    “The Road to Woodbury” starts out with a group of survivors setting up a tent village putting together all their efforts to stave off the zombie apocalypse. The center of this makeshift survivor campground is a circus big top tent, left behind when the plague hit. Now, if you are like me, then you probably see the problem with this from the start. I had to wonder what was going on, why on Earth would anyone think a tent village would be safe in a zombie apocalypse? The flaw is soon discovered when a herd of zombies attack and some children, which were under the care of Lilly are under attack, while most of the others in the group are out scavenging for food and supplies. Lilly manages to save three of the four, but when the oldest of the kids gets spooked and runs away, she soon meets her demise under the chomping teeth of zombies.

    The father of the children becomes distraught and begins beating on Lilly, breaking some ribs and fracturing her jaw, seeing this, a man who is somewhat of a love interest, Josh Lee Hamilton, comes to her rescue and beats up the man. The problem is that all of Josh’s pent up frustrations come out and he kills the man. The people in the tent village discuss this and decide to exile Josh. Lilly is furious with this and while in no condition to do anything, she decides to leave with Josh. Possibly seeing what is to come, Lilly’s high school friend and her boyfriend, a stoner couple who spend the apocalypse getting high, decide to go with them. Also deciding to leave is former Marine medic, now never sober, Bob Stookey.

    The group of 5 leave the tent village and find an abandoned gas station. Josh and Lilly head out scavenging for food, actually Josh has in mind to hunt down one of the many deer in the area, when a herd of deer are spooked their direction, fleeing from something the deer run right past the two humans, soon Josh and Lilly discover the horror that has the deer spooked. It is at this moment that the creepiest scene in any zombie story ever occurs. The zombified members of the circus which the members of the village were using the big top tent, is leading a herd of undead heading straight for Josh. The authors describe in detail the characters that are now flesh eating zombies from this circus. There are clown zombies, the fat lady zombie, acrobat and contortionist zombies and many more. Just take a circus and freak show from the early days of touring circuses and turn all its members into zombies and have them travelling in a herd toward the survivors. Yes it gets creepy.

    Later, while regrouping and trying to decide what to do next, the tent village seems to come under attack. Not knowing what is going on but seeing the flames and hearing the noise from the tent village it can’t be good. A couple of vehicles approach the gas station as they are fleeing from the village, but do not stop and ram into the station destroying the outcasts’ shelter.

    This sends the outcasts on the road again and after walking dead encounters they come across an abandoned Wal-Mart superstore. Gathering what is left of the looted store for survival supplies the group is confronted by a group of men. The leader of the men, Martinez, tells the group of a town that is full of survivors working together to ensure they all survive. Thinking this too good to be true, but tired of being on the road the group follows the men to Woodbury and meet the Governor.

    The group discovers that Woodbury is not all it seems to be. An evil is lurking beneath the town and at the cost of lives the Governor is becoming more and more brutal.

    Along with the book “Rise of the Governor,” “The Road to Woodbury,” is a great addition in the world of “The Walking Dead.” Whether you are a fan of the comics, the TV series or both these books should be added to your must read now list.

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    • Tommy 8:33 PM on February 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Any idea when the 3rd book is coming out? I am about halfway through the second book and I am going to be sad when I can’t finish the series…

      Like

      • gilwilson 12:15 AM on February 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Haven’t heard much about when…but did hear it was going to be a side story not a “prequel”

        Like

  • gilwilson 8:45 PM on January 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , the rise of the governor, , zombie, ,   

    “The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor” by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga 

    the-walking-dead-goveror

    “The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor”
    by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga
    read by Fred Berman
    published by MacMillan Audio
    Approx 11 hours.

    Not sure where it all started but I’m really loving this new love of zombies. I do know that a lot of the newfound love of the undead is brought about by the multi-media incursion of the works of Robert Kirkman and “The Walking Dead.” What started out as a simple black and white print comic book has developed into a television series, a couple of novels, a social game as well as many other games available as apps. “The Walking Dead” series is not one of those simple horror films about zombies eating brains, the ongoing story tells the story of survivors and their day to day struggles. The stories all cover politics of a world with a sudden loss of a central government and how to reform social order, or whether that social order can be reformed, all this while trying to avoid being eaten by a horde of zombies.

    What really grabs the public’s attention in this is the collection of very human stories that could be anyone, all the characters created in this series are human, make mistakes and have emotions that make the situation very real. Then throw in some adrenaline pushing horror into the mix and you have a well rounded story that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.

    One of the storylines in the comics, and currently running in the TV series is that of the “Governer” and his brutal way of maintaining the peace. In the comics we meet the Governor after he has already established his community in Woodbury. His actions are very brutal, like chopping off limbs of people if they don’t see things his way, forcing prisoners to fight zombies and his keeping a little girl zombie locked in a closet and treats her as though she is still alive. But what made the Governor the way he is. I know when reading the comic I thought, my gawd, how can someone be this brutal and insane and yet still have a community allow him to lead?

    That’s where this book comes in. When the book was originally released back in 2011, I wanted to read it and had it on my list, but never quite got around to reading it. When it was released in audiobook form later that year, I thought, now’s my chance to grab on. But my list was overpopulated and I still didn’t get around to listening. Now I find out there’s somewhat of a sequel to “Rise of the Governor” released called “The Road to Woodbury” I now have no choice, I can’t fall too far behind. So I latch on to this one and have a copy of “The Road to Woodbury” on top of my stack for the next listening. So that is my journey to getting here, let’s talk about the journey of the Governor, but before I do, after listening to this thrill a minute novel I can see why it took a whole novel just to tell the Governor’s story. It seems that it doesn’t just happen overnight for someone like him to become brutal and insane, even in a zombie apocalypse.

    “The Rise of the Governor” begins with the story of brothers Brian and Phillip Blake and Phillip’s daughter, Penny, getting together with their friends, Bobby and Nick and trying to escape the havoc which is the dead rising and eating the living. Doing everything he can to protect Penny, Phillip gets the group loaded in an SUV and seek safety. Following all the TV and radio broadcast instructions to head to Atlanta where a survival area is supposed to be in existence. The first stop the group makes is in a gated community called Wiltshire Estates. Readers of the comic will find Wiltshire Estates familiar as one of the stops for Rick Grimes and his crew, the main characters from the Walking Dead comic and TV series.

    Wiltshire Estates appears to be safe and after settling down in one of the homes, the group finds themselves settling in and raiding the nearby houses for supplies. The group begins to reinforce the fence around the community too keep the cannibalistic corpses out. Soon the numbers of walking dead become too much and a weakness in the structure allows the dead to invade. Bobby gets attacked and bitten by a zombie in hiding and soon dies. Before he turns Phillip shoots him in the head. Distraught by the loss of a good friend the remaining group make their escape and continue on to Atlanta, but not before Brian makes a sign warning of the dead inside.

    When they arrive in Atlanta they find that the safe zone is a myth and that Atlanta is overrun by millions of zombies. They are trying to escape a horde when they are flagged down by a woman who leads them to safety in an apartment building. The woman is April Chalmers, who is holed up in the first floor of the building with her aged father, David, and her sister Tara. They again think they may have found a place to settle and begin growing a garden on the roof and making escape routes among the buildings as well as routes to scavenge for food and supplies. When David dies of natural causes and turns into a zombie, it is up to Phillip to “kill” the zombie David. Tensions mount between the men and the women, and Phillip does something stupid which results in Tara holding the group at gunpoint forcing them to leave.

    Once again the group is on the run trying to survive. They find motorcycles and plan on heading to the Gulf of Mexico to find a place to live out this apocalypse. Along the way Brian keeps getting glimpse and feelings of people following them. Chalked up to paranoia the group ignores his stories. Soon they find themselves in a villa conveniently located on top of a hill and in the middle of a peach orchard which, while they are weaponless, seems like a safe place. The only problem a group of ruthless outlaws soon find the villa and force them to leave. The battle that ensues is one of the most tragic described in the series, this is where Penny gets bitten by a zombie and is turned into one herself.

    This is the turning point where Phillip becomes brutal, he fights back with a vengeance and manages to keep alive two of the attacking party, the rest are all killed and destroyed. The two are kept alive in a barn where only Phillip can enter. He tortures the two captives on a daily basis because they are responsible for the death of his Penny. Phillip also has another sign of snapping in that he is keeping Penny alive as a zombie tied to a tree. When Nick and Brian discover what is going on in the barn they kill the two captives, who by this time are begging for their own deaths. Phillip keeps them from killing Penny and eventually they decide the villa is no longer a place to be.

    Travelling further the group comes across the community of Woodbury, where no one cares who comes or goes. The group set up in an apartment and the darker side of Woodbury becomes known. The town seems to be run by a group of National guardsmen who charge admission for anyone wanting to watch the car races at the local dirt track. When Brian can’t pay the admission a gun is placed in his mouth as the brutality and bullying ensues.

    Phillip sneaks Penny into the apartment and soon begins feeding her fresh cuts of human flesh to the horror of Brian and Nick.

    At this point the book becomes very brutal and the Governor takes command but there is a huge twist in the tale that will leave the listener/reader amazed. When the Governor finally takes over the town of Woodbury is destined to be the town seen in the comics and the TV series, but like I said, there’s a twist. Check it out and be ready for a super thrill ride in zombie-land.

    The reader of this book, Fred Berman, does a superb job of capturing every thrilling second.  He is able to express the emotions, the attitudes and even at times make the book feel like a multi-cast performance.  His vocalizations of all the characters is perfect.  In fact there were times when I would just get thoroughly lost in the story thanks to his vocal expertise.

     
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