In the Walking Dead universe, there is no greater villain than The Governor. The despot who runs the walled-off town of Woodbury, he has his own sick sense of justice: whether it’s forcing prisoners to battle zombies in an arena for the townspeople’s amusement, or chopping off the appendages of those who cross him. The Governor was voted “Villain of the Year” by Wizard magazine the year he debuted, and his story arc was the most controversial in the history of the Walking Dead comic book series. Now, for the first time, fans of The Walking Dead will discover how The Governor became the man he is, and what drove him to such extremes. (summary from Amazon.com)
The Walking Dead Rise of the Governor is the first of a series of three novels written by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga. The novel is the history of one of the most villainous characters in the comic series, the Governor. This story follows his travels during the advent of the zombie. While we miss out a little on initial reactions, we follow Phillip Blake, his brother, his daughter, and a few close friends as they journey from their hometown, trying to make it to a safe center in the city of Atlanta. This a chronicle of Blake’s change from a survivor like the rest of us into the crazed, psychotic man who is in the comics.
Admittedly, I am a huge fan of all things zombie and all things The Walking Dead, so this may not be a totally unbiased review. I thought this was a really interesting look at the development, or destruction, of a human psyche when faced with things beyond human power to stop or change. Contending with zombies (or biters as they call them), human predators, and ordinary human interactions themselves, drives each of the survivors into a different mindset. These vary from a state of almost catatonia to psychosis.
Fans of the show are not going to be entirely familiar with the character of the Governor, but if you have been following any of my other articles about the show, you know that the Governor plays a pretty significant role in Season 3 of The Walking Dead. While the show does not follow the comics exactly, we have seen enough to know what kind of character the Governor is. This book helps give the character context and explains why he is who he is. It also gives us an explanation as to why (SPOILER ALERT) he has a zombie child locked up in a closet.
I recommend this book. Not only does it explain the story of one of the new members of Season 3, but it, in itself, is a really great post-apocalyptic tale of human survival in the face of overwhelming destruction and despair. The zombies are the ever present, devouring threat, but humanity itself is its own greatest enemy. Human predators take advantage of the weak and sick, while gangs run rampant, killing at a whim.
I do have to say that parts of the book are hard to take and show the worst of humans. This isn’t a light, easy read, but a grim reminder of the evil that lies in the breast of all humans. This evil is held at bay most of the time, but during terrifying situations, may be unleashed. It’s a grim, angry, violent tale where all norms are abandoned.
This book makes me even more excited for Season 3 of The Walking Dead to start back up again on October 14th! I can’t wait to see how the television series portrays the evil of Phillip Blake!