The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor


The Walking Dead has become a hit, both in TV and comic form. The comic is usually one of the top sellers in comic stores when it comes out, and the TV show continues to get high ratings every season.  So naturally, when something gets big, tie in media is eventually going to get made. In this case, it’s the book, The Walking Dead: The Rise of the Governor, by Jay Bonansinga and Robert Kirkman.

For anyone that doesn’t know, the Governor, Phillip Blake, is one of the more famous characters from the series. He is the psychotic leader of a small town called Woodbury, which has managed to barely survive the zombie outbreak. The book takes place early on in the outbreak, following Phillip and his friends and family as they survive the zombie apocalypse. Not much is known about the Governor’s past in the comics, and the TV show gave him a little back story, but for the most part his background has remained a mystery until now.

This is the series’ first venture in novel form, and it does well in captivating the atmosphere of the Walking Dead universe. The small group of survivors always feels alone and isolated and never knows whether or not to trust other people that they run across. Action scenes are always worded clearly, so there is never any confusion as to what is going on. Sadly, this is where the positive elements of the narrative stop.

The biggest problem is the way the characters themselves are written. Everyone is a little one-dimensional. Phillip’s defining characteristic is that he only cares about protecting his daughter. There are a few moments where things happen that show Phillip’s mental state, but overall, nothing really changes until the end of the book. Most of the time, things are just happening to the group. The supporting characters are hardly developed at all. His friend Nick is religious, his brother Brian is a bit of a coward, and his daughter is just a small girl that spends most of her time either catatonic or hiding. While Phillip grows somewhat as a character, no one else really does. Whenever a character is starting to develop a personality, they’re killed off, which actually makes this book a lot like the show.

Things happen, but you’re never given a real reason to care about these people. The whole thing winds up feeling like a generic zombie story. Any characters could have been put in here and it would have had the same affect. For a story that is supposed to be chronicling the downfall of a good man into a psychotic leader, it does a poor job of showing that. Then the ending comes out of nowhere, making it even worse.

“The Walking Dead: The Rise of the Governor” is something that only diehard fans of the show, whether comic or TV show, should look into. If you like basic zombie stories, it’s ok, but other books have done it better. The characters are flat and they really don’t stand out in any way that makes you care about them. If you’re looking for insight into a great villain, you won’t find it here.

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