This being my first book review for Brick of the Dead, I thought I’d address a minor technicality that my wife and I disagree on. I do not read books, I have them read too me, and by that I mean audiobooks. Some might say I’m lazy, but I spend a lot of time in the car and love listening to a good zombie story while I sit in traffic. So please keep in mind that I have not technically read the book, so your experience may differ!

I am here to review The Rise of the Governor, the first in a trilogy of novels by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga, which is set in the world of Kirkman’s comic book series The Walking Dead. As the title suggests, it explores the back story behind the comics most controversial antagonist, Philip “the Governor” Blake.

Its my understanding that the Governor divides opinion. He certainly did some crazy and disgusting things during his spell in the comic, and some might argue he almost became a totally over the top, caricature of villain. I am not one of these people. As a fan of the character I was very excited to find out about his origins, desperately hoping it would explain what happened to this guy to turn him into such a monster.

At a little over the 10 hour mark, this audiobook centers on Philip Blake, his daughter Penny and older brother Brian, along with his friends Bobby and Nick. The book is split into three distinct parts, beginning in a small neighborhood where the group have arrived after escaping the zombie uprising in their hometown. When they find ample provisions, an intended one night stay turns into a semi-permanent base to hold out until it all blows over.

Things turn sour and the group is forced to move on, choosing to return to their original plan and heading towards the supposed safe zone in the city Atlanta (part two). As would be expected, life in Atlanta isn’t all its cracked up to be. The group do meet other survivors and a small safe haven for a short period of time, but thanks to Philips evil streak they are forced to move on yet again.

In the final part of the novel we see Philips inevitable drift towards insanity as the rest of the group struggles to survive against threat of zombies and humans alike, before they settle in the town of Woodbury.

Oh, there’s a big twist in there somewhere as well!

What fans of the comic will enjoy is knowing the (unfortunate) future that lies in front of the group, and although this could have taken away the thrills from the edge of the seat moments, I think the writers handled it just about perfectly. True fans with good memory will also get a few “ahhhh” moments that link this storyline to the one they have read before.

Newcomers to The Walking Dead should not be put off though, in fact I would strongly encourage reading this book (and its sequels) before starting on the comics, or at very least before the Governor story arc. I think knowing what this group went through could well change the readers viewpoint with regards to the Governor, and gives you more of an insight into Ricks inner battles in the comic.

Grade: 4.5 zombie heads out of 5