Elizabeth Barone's Reviews > Rise of the Governor

Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jan 04, 2012

it was amazing
Recommended for: Fans of The Walking Dead comics

Rise of the Governor tells the story of how an ordinary man transforms into the monster that murders Rick Grimes's family in The Walking Dead comics, a man whom we despise in the comics but quickly empathize with in the novel. I never thought I would feel bad for the Governor until I got about halfway into the novel, when a terrible event completely transformed how I looked at him.

The novel follows a ragtag group of survivors: brothers Philip and Brian, Philip's daughter Penny, and Philip's lifelong friends Bobby and Nick. We meet them as they are cleaning up a house to stay in, and the rapid pace of the novel doesn't change much from there. I stayed up well into the night turning page after page, and often went to bed only because I could barely keep my eyes open to continue reading.

The entire novel is written in present tense, though occasionally author Jay Bonansinga slips into past tense when necessary or, seemingly accidentally, slips into this strange preemptive tense that disrupted the flow. However, there was so much tension building up that I could easily ignore it.

This book is the first in a series of novels, and I am looking forward to reading the others. Bonansinga has a penchant for characterization, suspense, and wrenching the reader through both gory and emotional scenes. While reading, I grimaced and cried many times.

I strongly recommend this novel to fans of the comics. I do not recommend it to someone who has never read the comics, or even someone who solely watches the television series (unless, of course, the Governor shows up later).

I am looking forward to reading more of Bonansinga's work and, of course, to the rest of the novels in this series.

* * * * *


NOTE: When I first started reading Rise of the Governor, I really thought we were being mislead into thinking Philip would become the Governor, and wondered whether Brian would actually become the Governor. I thought the novel focused quite a bit too much on Brian for him to just be a secondary character, but over time, I began to rethink it because Philip continued to more strongly resemble the Governor we know in the comics. As I reached the end of the novel, though, I began to realize that I had been right.

I think it's really interesting how things turned around and led Brian to become the Governor. Before I finished the novel, another fan who had already read it commented to me that he thought the novel was missing a chapter, but I disagree. I think we can easily fill in the blanks between where the novel left off and when we meet the Governor and his citizens in the comics.

I think Brian could have made different decisions, rather than turning into his brother, but in the cold, dead world that Robert Kirkman has created, there isn't much room for grey. Where Rick is more in the white area after living through a similar nightmare, Brian is far in the black area. It will be interesting now while reading the comics to further compare their characters.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Rise of the Governor.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

January 4, 2012 – Started Reading
January 4, 2012 – Shelved
January 4, 2012 –
page 5
1.62% "Just read what may be my favorite line in a novel: "He swallows the broken glass of a sore throat..." I think I'm I'm love with Jay Bonansinga."
January 4, 2012 –
page 56
18.18% "Can't put this down! Bonansinga is an amazing storyteller and his style blends neatly with TWD world. I'm exhausted, though, so I'm going to bed... but damn do I want to keep reading!"
January 8, 2012 –
page 103
33.44% "I feel like the events in this book are about to directly crossover with issue #93; I almost feel like this novel is purposely misleading us to think Phillip becomes The Governor, but really Brian does... I can't read this fast enough, hahaha!"
January 9, 2012 –
page 141
45.78% "My only complaint about this book so far is that sometimes Bonansinga slips into this weird pre-emptive tense. It's only once in a while, though."
January 10, 2012 –
page 199
64.61% "Just read the back of the jacket and I was wrong. Embarrassingly wrong. Oh well."
January 10, 2012 –
page 261
84.74% "I never thought I could feel bad for the Governor, but I do... Only I feel worse for Brian, who is in the middle of this mess and is in just as much pain, I think. He just handles it differently. Want to read more but can barely type, never mind read."
January 11, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Amanda I really thought Brian's transformation made sense. The whole time since the plague, he's been depending on his brother to keep him safe. Now that he's dead, he's living based on "what would Philip do" in order to keep himself safe aka he turns into his brother. All of which is to say I agree!

Elizabeth Barone I agree! I don't think he really had any choice. It's definitely sad, though, and changes my sympathy toward The Governor's character in the comics.

Did you hear that The Governor has been confirmed for the show? He's going to be played by David Morrissey. I'm not sure that he's a good choice, looks wise, but we'll see!

back to top