Audiobook Review: The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor, Part 2 by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga

7 04 2014

The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor, Part 2 by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga

Read by Fred Berman

Macmillan Audio

9 Hrs 35 Min

Grade: B

I’ll admit it, I was a little grumpy when I reviewed The Walking Dead: Fall of the Governor PART FRIGGIN’ ONE. Maybe some of that grumpiness rubbed off or maybe it was the expected Ledger Lag that I experience after listening to the latest Joe Ledger novel, but The Walking Dead: Fall of the Governor PART FRIGGIN’ TWO failed to captivate me as completely as the past entries in the series, in particular The Road to Woodbury. Not that it was bad, it wasn’t. For the most part, especially in it’s further development of the Lilly character and it’s intense battle at the jail, this was good stuff. Yet, it took a long time to develop. The bridge scenes between Part 1 and Part 2 seemed unnecessary. The early parts of the novel was full of unnecessary in your face foreshadowing that felt almost as insulting to the readers as television mood music. There was also a level of frustration that I think came from being more aware of the over all Walking Dead story arch. The authors do a good job at giving many of the Woodbury folk a heroic bent, and gave logical reasons for their hatred of Rick and Michone’s group, but I couldn’t help be feel a growing sense of frustration as these good people made obviously bad choices. At some point, you wanted someone to have an “Ah Ha” moment, but you knew it wasn’t happening. There is much unevenness to the Governor’s character in a storytelling sense. I felt his mounting instability should have been more evident to those around him, and being the brutal post apocalyptic world I struggles to see why some people would have continued following him. Heck, a simple ice pick through the other eye socket could have save a whole mess of people. On the positive side, the epic prison battle truly came alive, and the final moments of the Woodbury crew had true emotional impact. Bonansinga does the world justice, and despite some flaws delivers a solid exciting tale that should thrill fans of the series.

In this series, it has been the tale of two narrators with Fred Berman. I was less than delighted with his almost emotionless performance in The Rise of the Governor, complete with some annoying mispronunciations, but I thought he really stepped it up in The Road to Woodbury. In the overall Fall of the Governor arch, Berman does a solid job. Not as good as the second book, with a few weird pronunciations and small pacing issues, but when the book gets ramped up, Berman take in full force. His reading is worthy of the tale, and he gives the finale a much needed emotional boost. While I still don’t understand the decision to split the last book into two parts, The Walking Dead fans will definitely be pleased with the ending of the book series.

Audiobook Review: The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor: Part 1 by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonasinga

9 10 2013

The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor Part 1 by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga

Read by Fred Berman

Macmillan Audio

Length: 7 Hrs 46 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: Through surprising deceptive marketing, this is only the first half of the promise finale of what magically is now being called “A Four Book series” instead of the original label of a trilogy. What follows is a ranty rant rant.

Grade: Incomplete

Note: This review is less of a review, and more of a rant. Of course, everybody likes a good rant, so enjoy.

There has been a lot of talk about blogger responsibilities, and how in reviews we need to “Review the book, not the author.” Well, I’m going to call bullshit on this. We, as bloggers, have a little slice of the internet in which to talk about our experiences with books, and there, we should have the right to do just that, review the experience. If something about an author affects your ability to enjoy the experience of the book, feel free to review it. It’s you slice of the internet, and I think bloggers need to be honest. I would implore people to be respectful and, well, not act like raging dicks, but again, your house, your house rules.  Yet, there is more than just the content of a book the affects your experience. Whether it be your own expectations, the cover, any interaction with the author or publisher, or even your own ignorant beliefs, if it affects your enjoyment, it does a disservice to the book not to mention it. For example, if I hate a book, because I have a strong dislike of the fact that the author once marched in the mummers parade, it’s actually benefits the book if I mention that is what affected my negative experience. Your readers will learn your peccadilloes, and adjust their expectations based on them if you are honest.

All of that is to say that despite the fact the story was pretty good, and the narration was decent, my experience with The Walking Dead: Fall of the Governor Part One, was one that was akin to watching a drunk man kick a puppy, while screaming invectives at school children. The dude may be, in reality, a nice guy, but in that situation, he is an utter douchenoodle.  My experience began, when I was thinking about how the cover of this latest walking dead novel was kind lame compared to the last two. It’s all good, Lame covers rarely affect my enjoyment of a book. Yet, I flicked my finger over the audible app to get a closer look, and there, under the words “Fall of the Governor” in dark lettering on a dark background, it says “Part 1.” WHAT IS THIS PART ONE SHIT? I thought. Maybe I only downloaded half the book on audible, and needed to download Part 2? Nope. Listening to the book intro, Mr. Fred Berman, our audio guide through the series, also said, PART 1. So, my anger began to grow. I was already surprised that the finale was significantly shorter than the first two novels. With what Kirkman said we should expect in the final novel, it’s length surprised me. i expected it to be longer than the first two, not shorter. So, I reread the product description. No where on the Audible page, beyond the cover image did it say Part One. In fact, the product description contained this sentence:

“…readers will experience a terrifying finale befitting the cultural phenomenon that this great series has become.”


Readers will experience the first half of a terrifying finale because…


So, when will there be a part two. Who the hell knows? Yet, I know when it comes out, they sure as hell won’t be charging me half price for the book. I just spent a full credit to buy a half of a book. I would be OK with this if they let me know this beyond a small little tag on the cover. I would have been happy telling fans of The Walking Dead that this was a pretty cool story, about Rick, Glenn and Michonne’s first disastrous meeting with the Governor, which is just different enough from the TV show to be enjoyable. I liked the story. Not as much as The Rise of the Governor. There was less zombie action, and more person on person cruelty, not to mention a brutal off camera rape scene. Yet, the grit was what you expect from The Walking Dead. Yet, I can’t in good conscious give this book a good rating, not based on content, but on the deceptive marketing. It affected my ability to enjoy it. As I got close to the ending, with my fears being realized, I kept getting angrier and angrier.

So, yeah. this isn’t much of a review. More like a Bob rant with cussing and mean faces. Let’s call this my review: PART ONE! Part two will come when the bastards give me the rest of the book I paid for.

So, for shit and giggles, here’s the initial imagery of the book.

Yet, the released version looks like this:

Anyone notice the difference?

EDIT: I found a statement about this from Kirkman’s editor, Brendon Deenan:

“When the draft for the third and final book of the Governor series, THE FALL OF THE GOVERNOR, came in, it was much too long to be published as one book, but we knew (Robert, Jay and I), that fans of the series would want the whole story, the Governor’s story in full, as raw as possible and as true to Robert’s vision as we could get it. And that’s the book Robert and Jay handed in, the Governor in all his glory ‘til the bitter end. So we made the tough but ultimately necessary decision to split the conclusion into two parts—the first available now, and the second picking back up in March with the terrifying, concluding pages of this series.”

I call Bullshit. If you had enough time to know that the book needed to be split in two, you had enough time to let the marketing material obviously reflect that. Sneaking a Part One onto the cover in easily overlooked lettering was not enough. This book came in under 8 hours. Even if you double it the book would have been around 15 hours, not “too long to be published.” My guess was that the book was long enough that they realized THEY COULD split it in two, not they HAD TO split it in two. So, yeah… bullshit.

Audiobook Review: The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga

19 10 2012

The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga

Read by Fred Berman

Macmillan Audio

Length: 9 Hrs 56 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: I absolutely loved every moment of The Road to Woodbury. It utilizes the winning Walking Dead formula of zombie mayhem amidst complicated characters. The novel left me, at times, breathless, frustrated, angry, sad and maybe just a bit skeeved out, but when thrown all together it was one of the best Zombie listening experiences I have had this year.

Grade: A

I think I am starting to fall in love with October. I never was much of an October guy. Sure, there was Halloween, which meant that the month at least offered the promise of an eventual bounty of candy, but other than that, October pretty much sucked. September always brought the excitement of a new season, with school starting, TV shows premiering and fall beginning to claim its hold on the world. Yet, by October, the excitement had worn off, the days became shorter, school became routine and winter was just a small slog away. As an adult, it always felt like one more step closer to snow and ice, and annoying holiday shoppers. Yet, two years ago something happened that made Octobers almost worth it, and that is The Walking Dead. Now, I never read the Graphic Novel series, and I plan to do that one day, but as a lover of Zombie and Post Apocalyptic fiction the start of any series involving walking corpses set on devourer the flesh of the living was met with excitement. Than last year something even better happened. They released a book. Not a novelization of the show or Graphic novel series, but a book that takes place in the world of The Walking Dead. Also, they released the audiobook version. And it was awesome. In the book I got to meet characters that are important to the Graphic Novel series, like The Governor, but before they ever appeared. I got to learn the story that led up to the story. To make things even better it is trilogy, so I know I will have one more year of October awesomeness. So, bring on the impending winter, the shorter days, filler episodes of TV series, school zones, bad Christmas commercials and the like, I got Zombies to keep me company.

The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury works as both a sequel to The Rise of the Governor, as well as introducing us to a new group of survivors trying to find safety in the changed world. Lilly Caul has always been ruled by fear, even to the point of running away during a zombie attack, leaving her friend Josh Lee surrounded by Zombies only to be saved by his quick actions. Yet, after a fatal encounter, she and Josh are exiled from their community and forced to go on the road. Eventually, they meet up with a scavenging group from a walled town called Woodbury and are invited to join them. But something is not right about the town, or its strange leader called The Governor, and Lilly finds she may have to do something about it. The Road to Woodbury is told in two parts, before and after Lilly and her friends join Woodbury. The first half, particularly the first two hours of the audiobook, left me breathless. The pacing was frantic and the zombie action intense. Despite the rapid fire pace, Kirkman and Bonansinga really get you hooked into the characters. Lilly is a complicated and fascinating character, and one that, despite some frustrating moments, I really enjoyed. I am actually glad I haven’t read the Graphic Novel series, because I came into these characters fresh, without knowing what will become of them when they eventually meet up with Rick and the crew. Part two of the book takes place in Woodbury and is more of a direct sequel to Rise of the Governor. The authors do a good job creating a tense, moody atmosphere ripe with a feeling of untapped tension within the town. It’s slower and more introspective than the first half, but works well to create a sense of impending doom. My only problem with the book as a whole is I never really understood why certain characters mistrusted The Governor. Now, The Governor is a twisted egomaniacal mess of a character, but much of that is displayed through his inner dialogue. Most of the distrust characters show comes from a gut instinct rather than any actual action the Governor takes. In fact, his public action, while super villainy, its mild super villainy in the Post Apocalyptic world. Yet, for the reader who is privy to The Governor’s internal struggles, he in many ways parallels the town of Woodbury, a streaming pot just about ready to boil. I absolutely loved every moment of The Road to Woodbury. It utilizes the winning Walking Dead formula of zombie mayhem amidst complicated characters. The novel left me, at times, breathless, frustrated, angry, sad and maybe just a bit skeeved out, but when thrown all together it was one of the best Zombie listening experiences I have had this year.

I am a big fan of Fred Berman’s narrations, particularly his work in A. Lee Martinez’s Gil All Fright Diner and Joe Hill’s Horns, yet, I had trouble with his reading of Rise of the Governor. Well, Berman is back with The Road to Woodbury, and his performance is much improved. First off, it seems that he learned how to properly pronounce the word "chassis" which was something that really frustrated me in the first novel of the series. Berman manages to give a much more emotional reading in The Road to Woodbury. I think that it helped that the main character was more likeable and expressive than Phillip Blake. Berman just infuses the reading with more life, allowing you to feel the turmoil of the characters. His pacing was just right, crisp and fast in the early action intensive scenes, and a bit slower and more melodic during the second half. From the very start of the audiobook, I was pulled into the tale, and Berman never let me escape from it. Fans of The Walking Dead, or just zombies in general, should definitely check this series out before the hordes get you.

Note: This review is part of my weekly “Welcome to the Apocalypse” series. Click on the image for more posts.

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.