Sunday, April 08, 2012

Nuff Read: Rise of the Governor

So just how does one become accustomed to watching floating zombie heads to relax? It's in the book!
While on our Spring Break college visit trip to Washington, D.C., rather than a t-shirt or bumper sticker I found something much cooler to purchase as a memento, an honest-to-goodness novel with no pictures: The Walking Dead: Rise of The Governor by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga. After getting bitten by the zombie bug a few months ago (and having voraciously read my way through the comic book trades as quickly as budget would allow), I soon became aware of this novel.

Written under the auspices of Dead mastermind Kirkman, this first of an intended series of novels tells the background story of the Walking dead universes greatest villain to date, the Governor. Unfortunately, the novel (currently only available in hard cover) has been unavailable at my three local Barnes and Nobles for a number of weeks, so much so that I had half-forgotten about it, figuring I would pick it up when the paperback is released.

I was most pleased that a copy for purchase was brought to my attention at the George Washington University bookstore. While perusing the book stacks my stepson asked me if I had seen this, holding up the hardcover edition of the novel, and I immediately decided to make the purchase. (Fortunately for me, I have an ally in my stepson who also really digs all things Walking Dead at this time.) Despite having packed all of  Wednesday's new comic purchases, as well as some headier reading for the trip, Rise of the Governor quickly displaced the other reading on my night stand.

The appeal of the Governor character is not hard to see. In the comic books he is (properly) presented as the antagonist's (Rick's) opposite number, a leader of survivors who makes some very different, and primal, choices in placating and managing the people who have appointed him their leader. He is also very nasty towards those who threaten the world he has created for his community (note: this is definitely Mature Content stuff).

As a novel, this book could have gone very wrong. While definitely not a cash grab, and while being very readable and entertaining, it stays so true to the comic book in that the story that little new ground is covered. Because The Governor has yet to appear in the eponymously titled AMC television series, (though David Morrissey has been cast for the next season) one has to wonder how much interest beyond those who read the comic books there is for such a book.

Even if one has not been previously introduced to Philip Blake (the Governor's "real" name), the novel does read as an interesting alternate (and parallel) survival story set in the same world as that our television heroes are also fighting through. Rest assured for those who have met the Governor before, our least favorite appendage amputatin', zombie head collectin' leader has been at times a much more sympathetic character than we've seen in the funny books.

So, the college t-shirt will have to wait until my stepson chooses a college, though a school bookstore that carries such fare (and comic books, too!) has a decided advantage in my book.

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