Audiobook Review: Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber

4 05 2013


2013 Zombie Awareness Month

Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber

Read by Sean Kenin

Random House Audio

Length: 6 Hrs 41 Min

Genre: Science Fiction Horror

Quick Thoughts: Star Wars fans looking for a darker take on the universe will enjoy this science fiction horror tale and Zombie fans should also find themselves more than pleased. While I found the production a bit overdone with music and FXs, the narration was quite good. Death Troopers is a fun blending of Lucas and Romero that is effective enough to please the hardcore fans of both.

Grade: B-

As you all know, we are currently immersed within the wonder that is Zombie Awareness Month. Yet, today is also a special day, which is why I am posting a review on the weekend, which I rarely ever do. Today is May 4th, or May the fourth, or… and here it comes "May the fourth be with you!" That’s right my fellow geeks, it’s Star Wars Day! So, let me take you back in time to my childhood. It was a simpler time, before many of you were even born. It was a time that many people only know through cheesy programs on VH1… The 80’s. Things were different back then. It was an archaic world were only the richer members of our neighborhoods had luxuries like basic cable and VCRs. Most television came through to our little box through something called "rabbit ears" and programming came in two ways UHF and VHF. We couldn’t pause live programs or digitally record things to watch later. When we wanted to see a movie we had to go to the theatre or wait to a public channel actually broadcasted it. When a movie like Star Wars came on, it was an event. I watched Star Wars for the first time when it was broadcast on Network TV. This is one of the first significant memories of my childhood. The movie started with a special about the fans of the movie, with many people discussing having seen it multiple of time. Crazy number of times. This fascinated me because I had yet to see it. I stayed up late (until 10PM!) watching it while the rest of the family all drifted off. I was mesmerized. Later, I would see The Empire Strikes Back in an actual movie theatre, my only previous trips to movie theatres were seeing Bambi and Superman at a Drive-In with my father. Star Wars was one of the things that truly transformed me into a science fiction fan, and some of the first adult novels I ever read were the Star Wars novelizations. So, Happy Star Wars Day! May you not be eaten by cute little fuzzy teddy bear things. 

The Prison ship Purge houses over 500 of The Empires greatest enemies, which includes ruthless killers, viscous aliens and of course, in the case of brothers Trig and Kale Logo, simple petty smugglers swept up by The Empire’s paranoia. When a routine salvage mission leaves the ship exposed to a lethal pathogen the brothers, the ship doctor and an iconic duo must battle the revived corpses of guards and prisoners in order to escape the death plagued ship. First let me say… Zombie Wookies. Now, I think the cover art of the blood smeared Storm Trooper was pretty darn cool, but let’s face it, if they would have put a zombified Wookie on the cover the world may have geekgasmed. Death Troopers was a pretty fun story. Honestly, the idea of zombies on an Imperial prison ship would be hard to totally screw up and Schreiber keeps it on track. The overall feel of the novel was similar to Aliens, or even some of the more horrific moments in Leviathan Wakes. It was good old fashion scifi horror done effectively with pretty cool Star Wars style names like Trip Logo and Jareth Sartoris thrown in to flavor the soup. Yet, this wasn’t the perfect novel. There was an obvious back story that is glaringly missing, making you feel like you are reading a series out of order. In fact, a prequel does exist, Red Harvest, although it was written a year after Death Troopers. I think this contributed a lot to the rushed feeling of character development. It felt as if we should have already known the characters, so why bother filling them out more. The action of the novel is non-stop relentless. Maybe too non-stop relentless. I personally got a bit fatigued with the relatively short production, and often found myself drifting off during the elaborate action scenes. Yet, for the most part, I had a lot of fun. I found the Zombie elements of the novel meshed well with the Star Wars themes. I have always thought there is an untapped darkness to the overall Star Wars story and Death Troopers does a good job exploiting that. There were some really cool moments, plus the chance to get reacquainted with a few characters from the Star Wars canon, though I can say I was disappointed there was no Boba Fett sighting, nor a single member of the Antilles family. Star Wars fans looking for a darker take on the universe will enjoy this science fiction horror tale and Zombie fans should also find themselves more than pleased. Death Troopers is a fun blending of Lucas and Romero that is effective enough to please the hardcore fans of both.

Sean Kenin did an excellent job reading Death Troopers. He had great command of the characters, pulling out some wonderfully diverse performances of a cast full of creeps, criminals and creatures. Yet, I found the production as a whole over done. Death Troopers is full of music, special effects and very strange chapter headings including some annoying guy yelling the chapter title in echo. I thought the Star Wars music in the beginning did a good job creating the mood, but the idiotic "this is a tense moment" "this is an action scene" music just distracted instead of creating a mood. Overall, there just too much was going on. One of the reasons I like audiobooks is that it’s just me and the narrator. I tend to avoid audio movies and the like because I have trouble making out dialogue amidst a sea of distracting noise. This is why I need to have captions on TV, too often ambient sounds drown out the words being said for my ears. I think if you are a big fan of Graphic Audio style productions, you’ll probably love the crap out of this. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact only one name was listed in the credits, I would have sworn this was a multicast performance, so big old kudos to the narrator. It was just the other stuff that didn’t work for me, and contributed to my inability to focus on the production at times.




2 responses

5 05 2013
2013 Zombie Awareness Month Week 1 Roundup | The Guilded Earlobe

[…] « Audiobook Review: Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber […]

6 05 2013
Dave Thompson

Sweet! Glad you more or less enjoyed it.

I just finished listening to another SW book, and man, the over-production is tedious. I didn’t remember it being as bad for Death Troopers, but maybe it was. The sound F/X didn’t bother me so much, but the musical cues were ridiculous.

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