Rise of the Governor by Kirkman/Bonansinga – Book Review

I took a well deserved break after my 600 page epic, The Woman in White, and turned to a book that I have been wanting to read for ages. As a huge Walking Dead fan, a piece of literature based on the biggest and baddest villain that we have encountered thus far in series, was so far up my street it had to be read. I had a 5 hour train journey in which I planned to start the book and possibly listen to some music, stare at the window… but I finished the Rise of the Governor in one sitting! An intriguing page turner, that kept me hooked to the final page and wanting more. I’m very glad to see that there is four in the series, they have to be completed sooner rather than later.

The story drops us into the life of Philip Blake, who is travelling with his daughter Penny, his brother Brian and two friends Nick Parsons and Bobby Marsh. They are survivors from the initial outbreak of the zombie infestation and are constantly on the move from house to house, having various run-ins with zombies that stray into their path. Philip is a strong-minded leader that leads the group with the purpose to reach Atlanta, where they have heard rumours of a refugee camp that will be their salvation. He is ridiculously protective and attached to his daughter Penny, which viewers of the TV series will completely understand. By having Robert Kirkman as one of the authors of the book the feel remained true to pure Walking Dead action. All the events and journeys taken by the group could all easily be made into an episode, the descriptions being so vivid and real that you can experience what each character undergoes as hordes of zombies attack.

Although the strong visualisation was a very strong aspect of the book, it could simultaneously be a flaw for many readers. I’m not sure how well the book would stand without be able to rely on the content of the Walking Dead series that many of us has seen and already love. The book fits so well into the series’ universe that we gain limited insight into where we are and who the characters are, as there seems to be a unspoken reliance that reader is a Walking Dead fan. Obviously, for a fan it is easy to determine the situation and mind set as we have seen it many times before, so this wouldn’t be a problem. This is mainly addressed to fresh readers with no prior knowledge of the Walking Dead.

Although there was a distinct disadvantage for me when visualising the series into the book. Without giving too much away, Philip’s group meet Tara Chalmers and her family. Tara is a well-established character in the main series, who met the Governor AFTER he left Woodbury. But at this stage in the book, he hasn’t even got to Woodbury yet! After a quick Google, I found that they used her character after how well it was written in this book, which is fantastic for the author, but it messed up my visuals as it couldn’t be the Tara from the series for me, but they had a the same name! A very picky niggle from me there, but one I felt worth mentioning. The author should be flattered that this was the only problem I had with the book.

I have to say that this is an essential read for any Walking Dead fan out there, it is so well written and remains wholly true to the universe that the series originally creates. I have so much praise for the book and it is only the first one of the series, there is still 3 more to go. I cant wait to get on to the next instalment, The Road to Woodbury, but I need to clear some more books of my reading list first before I get to treat myself again!

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