Gabriel's Reviews > Rise of the Governor

Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman
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's review
Oct 02, 2011

it was ok

Won in a Goodreads First Reads.


After greatly enjoying the first season of the AMC show and getting deep into the comics, I was looking forward to this. I mean, good zombie novels are far and very few between. They seem to work better as film horrors over novel horrors. Even so, The Walking Dead comics did a wonderful job of transforming the brutality of George Romero zombie flicks into a written media.

This book does NOT follow suit.

Maybe it's due to the fact that it's written in the present tense (for no real reason) or has random details (from near the end, "He ... puts on his only other pair of jeans and his only other shirt (an AC/DC silk-screened tee).") as if these facts are important. They aren't. Why do I care that he has an AC/DC tee on? Maybe it's due to the random redundancies that abound in this book; some ideas repeated mere paragraphs apart. Maybe it's due to some of the worst writing I've ever had the bad luck to read (from the middle, "Yes, they hear him, and now Brian and Nick are climbing out of the SUV. Over the course of a mere minute, Brian makes a series of observations - most of them, apparently, already calculated by Philip - beginning with the front of the store."). We're talking about writing that isn't sure whether it's trying to describe thoughts via different character's heads or just unsure of itself to begin with. We're talking stuff that I edit out of my OWN writing on the second draft if I get that far.


There was so much going for this. It's a cool idea to retell the beginning of The Walking Dead from a different perspective. There are so many great stories to be had here and neat references to the comics possible.

I won't read anymore of this "trilogy" and probably am leaving the comic series after this book. It's just not worth my time.
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Reading Progress

October 2, 2011 – Shelved
November 22, 2011 – Started Reading
January 5, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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April If you abandon the comic after reading the book, you will be losing out. The comic so far surpasses the book that the two aren't even really comparable. Yes, the book has some atrocious writing, but for me, after having read every issue of the comic, I just really wanted to discover how the Governor began. On that, the book more than delivered.

message 2: by sj (new) - rated it 3 stars

sj I wouldn't give up on the comics, they're just as well written as ever (I think the newer arcs are even more engaging than the early arcs, really), but I completely agree that the book was atrociously written.

Gabriel It's not just the book that has made me hesitate to do more comic reading. It's the vast amount of other things that I would rather read. Walking Dead the comics were cool and enjoyable ... but I'm past the excitement it gave me during the first couple of months and needed something that would really get me enthused about going back to the comics. I don't have TV (and heard that the show isn't doing much this season) and this book might have quashed it.

I agree that letting this side story quash the urge to read the comics is not giving the comics a fair shake, but if Robert Kirkman is going to sign his name off on it, then it needs to fit in the mythology. This doesn't.

Tincangoat I told myself today that I'll give the book till page 50 at least before I quit it. Mainly because I am hoping the worst thing I've read in this book was this line on page 6 that reads, "—the ejaculate of blood like a mop head slapping the floor—".

1) I never think of mops ejaculating, and 2) it scares me to think of anyone ejaculating blood.

This book reads as if it was thrown together to capitalize on the cash cow that is The Walking Dead name and nothing more.

Denerick I actually concur with the criticism of the writing, but the drawbacks don't over-rule it for me. I'm generally less pernickity about such things though, to be honest. Just as an aside, I thought the AC/DC thing was sort of relevant, it tied in to his background and love of music (he owned a music shop after all) and it was a good indication of his current predicament as it was the ONLY shirt he still possessed. I think you're being pathologically harsh.

Lindsey I am personally forgetting that I ever read this book and am going back to the comics.

Gabriel re: relevance of details. Looking back at the review and the soecific quote, it was not just the AC/DC reference that was jarring, but how the fact was integrated. The writing made the fact seem irrelevant, yet included it. Whatever.

I do find it funny that this is the review I have gotten the most comments on ... and, yes, I am trying to forget that I read this book too.

message 8: by Zakia (new)

Zakia Rath It's obvious that you do not read much of anything without pictures in it. Since reading a regular novel requires the writer to use only words to describe everything, including emotions, thoughts, actions, the setting, creating a mood, etc.
What the authors wanted to convey is Brian's utter lack of having nothing; his sense of loss. He's lost everything: his family and his friends. He has no food and only two outfits. That is why the writer puts those details in. They are trying to create a mood
As an avid reader, I think this book was very well written and descriptive. I would have liked more description as some of the areas the characters go into or around them is kind of vague to me especially the passages describing Atlanta's building. I couldn't get a mental picture.
The novel has excellent pacing with very little filler parts, keeping the story going. I appreciated that so much.
Your review is stupid and misleading.
I hope not too many people take your review seriously and skip this book. Fact: This book is a must read if you're a fan of The Walking Dead franchise.

Gabriel Zakia wrote: "It's obvious that you do not read much of anything without pictures in it. Since reading a regular novel requires the writer to use only words to describe everything, including emotions, thoughts, ..."

There are ways to describe "lack of having nothing" (I assume you mean the fact that he has nothing) without the need to add details. Most books on writing written by writers acknowledge the need for carefully selected details and specific vagueness (my phrasing). To hammer on the particular example from my review which you referred to, had the author said "he puts on his only other shirt and folds his dirty shirt into an empty backpack" that brings a great deal of loss into play. Someone taking care of their last possessions, afraid to depart of them. It's left with "vague" since we aren't given full descriptions of the shirts or the bag ... but in our mind's eye, we create our own tattered and dirty shirts and another shirt that is cleaner and, perhaps nondescript, but sufficient to get the point across.

As Denerick said, sure, the AC/DC logo may have had significance to Brian, but what it does for a reader who does not have the backstory associated with that shirt foremost in their head (the book is written in present tense which automatically forces the reader to focus on the "here and now" since the tense signifies what is important) is remove them from the immediate situation and force an image in their mind they may not have wanted. Think about any time a book you read was turned into a movie ... were you pleased with every design decision made? In essence, that is what happened with the specific reference to the shirt.

Finally, revealing that detail as a parenthetical remark makes the importance (if Denerick is correct) so subtle that even I - a reader of many non-picture books, thank you very much, who enjoys subtlety every so often - can't pick up on it. In fact, most books on writing discourage the use of parenthetical remarks since they are used to add details that are mostly inconsequential and ALWAYS (despite the writer or audience, and this remark is a great example of it) break up the main action. In the hands of better writers, they can work wonders. I am working to be one of those writers myself. In the hands of Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga, they just further pull me out of the story in a way the comics never did and in a way that the best written books never will.

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