George Romero Blues

Here’s the trick to reading zombie fiction: You are going to have to read/wade through an ocean of mediocre crap to find the books that make you say, “Right on.” That’s it, that’s all there is to it. Some are, at very least, entertaining, while some outright suck and fewer still go the distance. What you have going for you is that they are easy to read. The hardest part is to not sit there wanting to ask the author what the fuck he has done.

Two righteous heavyweights in the field will be dropping releases over the coming months. They are Robert Kirkman, creator of the Walking Dead graphic novel series and Jonathan Maberry, author of the Joe Ledger books and the young adult Rot and Ruin series. Kirkman has written, with a coauthor, a tie in novel for the graphic novel series The Walking Dead, called The Walking Dead: Rise of The Governor. Maberry has written a stand alone called Dead of Night.

Let’s start with Kirkman. If you have read the graphic novels, you are familiar with the villain known as The Governor. He is the maniacal despot ruler of the town of Woodbury, a walled off community in the badlands of what used to be America. He is a bad man who does bad things. A man you want to see end because you know that end will be ugly. Well, the novel is the story of who he is and how he came to be. I thought it was boring and it left me wondering why it needed to be written. The story was predictable with a twist ending that, in retrospect, I should have seen coming. I have read that this is the first in a series of these books, which I’ll read out of curiosity. Kirkman is doing well but I can’t help but wonder why he needed a co-author, the guilty party here being Jay Bonansinga.

Maberry is an enigma to me. I love to read and rip his Joe Ledger books. They have moments of brilliance, along with sections that are so formulaic that I want to scream. They would make excellent Michael Bay movies, if Michael Bay grew a pair and started making hard R rated movies again. His novel Dead of Night is a well-crafted homage to George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Yes, it has moments that make you think of Romero’s films and The Crazies, but I think that’s how it was intended. It takes place in rural Pennsylvania and features a sexy female lead and some tooth and nail action sequences. If would make a cool film if done right. Maberry has a new Joe Ledger novel coming out, along with the second novel in the Rot and Ruin series aptly titled Dust and Decay. I’ll have fun with those.

Dave Wahlman