Audiobook Review: The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga

13 10 2011

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

Read by Fred Berman

Macmillan Audio

Length: 10 Hrs 50 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor is a must read for lovers of tales of the zombie apocalypse, whether a fan of The Walking Dead series or not.  It is the perfect Halloween listen full of zombie action, a touch of gore, and some intriguing characters trying to survive in a changed world.

Grade: A-

If you’re wondering why I would choose The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor as my latest audiobook for Murder, Monsters and Mayhem, you’ve either never read my blog or clueless about The Walking Dead phenomena. It’s all about the zombies. The Walking Dead franchise has been one of the forces pushing zombies into the mainstream, with the popular series of graphic novels, and the hit AMC series.  Yet, I have a bit of a confession to make. Despite being obsessed with the whole Zombie Apocalypse genre, watching any movie I can find, and reading and listening to countless books within the genre, I have never read The Walking Dead graphic novel series. This huge oversight in my dedication to zombie lore comes from one simple fact, I never really was into graphic novels. I’ve always read. In fact, I can’t remember a point in my life where I wasn’t reading anything I could get my hands on. Yet, I never was into comic books as a kid, or manga or graphic novels as I grew older. So, when I discovered that there was to be a trilogy of novels based on The Walking Dead, and specifically a beloved villain of the graphic novel series, I was both excited and a bit trepidations. My concern about jumping into the story was that I really know very little of the overall Walking Dead back story. Would I find myself meeting characters that it would be assumed I already knew as a fan of the series? Would I become lost trying to figure out the relationships between the characters? Would I miss a bunch of inside jokes, and Easter egg references? Yet despite these worries, I was excited to begin the audiobook.

First off, my worries were quite unfounded. The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor is a parallel story to The Walking Dead, not requiring the listener to have any knowledge of the graphic novel or television series. It is the story of Phillip Blake, a survivor of the zombie apocalypse, before he became a character in The Walking Dead series. It follows him, along with his daughter Penny, his brother Brian and two childhood friends as they attempt to find safety in a world where the dead walked the streets looking for a taste of live flesh. The story itself starts off a bit slow, developing the characters, and giving insights into the relationships. The first half of the novel seemed to be a pretty predictable boilerplate zombie survival tale, with looting, and holing up various places as they deal with the undead. Yet, after the halfway point, the book really takes off, giving the listener an exciting and emotionally charged tale that exceeded my expectations. I almost felt as if the first half lulled me into a comfortable sense of security about what to expect, then the second half devastated that sense of security, smashing it to little pieces. By the time I reached the end of the audiobook, I was stunned, not having expected the emotional rollercoaster that I had been taken on. I was surprised how much I came to care about the characters, despite the fact that these were not good guys. I actually felt saddened and a bit betrayed by some of the actions of Phillip Blake, even knowing beforehand that he was destined for villainy. The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor is a must read for lovers of tales of the zombie apocalypse, whether a fan of The Walking Dead series or not. 

While Fred Berman, overall did a solid job reading The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor, I felt a bit underwhelmed by his performance. He has a nice voice, and handled the various characters well, but I felt his performance was a bit too lowkey compared to the material. I also was pulled out of the story by various mispronunciations, particularly the word chassis. Yet, overall his performance was good enough to keep me engrossed in the tale. The story itself is dynamic enough where even a simply decent performance by the narrator was enough to make the overall production a winner.  The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor is the perfect Halloween listen full of zombie action, a touch of gore, and some intriguing characters trying to survive in a changed world.

 

Note: A special thanks to the good people at Macmillan Audio for providing me with a copy of this title to review.

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3 responses

13 10 2011
dogearedcopy

I didn’t grow up with comic books or graphic novels either; but for the past year or so, I’ve started really getting into them. One of the series that I’ve picked up is The Walking Dead! I’ve only read the first three trade volumes; but I like them despite the cartoonish style of the artwork (as opposed to the highly stylized Hellboy gns for instance) and the fact that they are in black-and-white. The graphic novels, however, aren’t so much about the zombies as they are about the band of survivors — to the point that the zombies almost seem incidental to the plot rather than a core element.

It’s good to know that the story lines aren’t co-dependent. I had reservations about starting a sideline, thinking I needed a foundation in The Walking Dead mythos before “going forward.” I think that after I’ve read a few more of the gn trades, I’ll try out the audio 🙂

15 10 2011
Jenn's Bookshelves

I cannot wait to listen to this audio!!

20 10 2011
teresasreading

I love your enthusiasm for zombies! Thanks for linking up.

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