#33 A Review of The Walking Dead (Hardcovers Book 2) by Robert Kirkman + GIVEAWAY

Cover ImageKim and Todd here for another joint review, this time for The Walking Dead (Hardcover Book 2) by Robert Kirkman.  (If you missed our review of Book 1, click here)

Todd: The more I read of this series, the more I like it.  As a disclaimer, this book is definitely darker than the first, and Kirkman explores depths of the human experience that are usually only reserved for despair and the bleakest of times.  We join Rick and company soon after the end of the first book, as they find a prison that they attempt to make into their new home.  However, just as in the first book, zombies are not their primary problem.  Inner conflicts within the group boil to the surface, and the group must make peace with a few surviving inmates that inhabit the prison.  Everyone barely maintains composure day-to-day, as the constant stress of their situation takes a toll on their psyche and breaking points.  Everyone is tested constantly, although none more than Rick.  Can he continue to lead the group?  Can they continue to survive this horror?

Kim: As Todd stated the book is definitely darker.  Now that the group has found a suitable and seemingly safe location to rest their weary feet, we begin delving into the deeper and darker problems of re-establishing society.  We begin to see a theme of crime and punishment establish itself.  What I mean by that, is that crime begins to happen amongst the survivors and they must decide how those guilty will be punished.  Since there is nothing left of the old society they were part of, they can create their own rules and regulations and begin from scratch.  It’s a test for all of them to search deep within themselves and do/say what they think is right.  I think the fact that the writers of the book explore these complex societal issues make it so much more interesting to read.  How many of you out there can honestly say they’ve read a zombie book that delves into themes such as these?

Todd: That’s definitely a good point.  Up until now the characters have been basically reactionary, where they respond to the events around them and barely survive.  Now, as they begin to settle somewhat, they must decide how to enforce a moral code.  I find the struggle that Rick undergoes internally pretty astounding.  He already has a lot on his shoulders trying to act as the moral compass of the group, and for the most part he succeeds.  However, it is when he begins to crack and his emotions begin to cloud his judgement that we begin to see Rick as more of an individual with faults just like the rest of us.  I like how Kirkman doesn’t place him on a pedestal and make him into a superhuman heroic figure.  He has a breaking point just like the rest of us.  How he changes and reevaluates himself as the situation around him deteriorates is so interesting and I think beyond the realm of what most of us would have to experience.

Kim: Agreed! Due to all of these scenes I found that the book became a lot darker and also more gruesome.  There were murders in cold blood, attempted rape, sexual conflicts, and much more.  For those with more sensitive tastes I would not recommend reading this.  For those with braver sense I would definitely recommend it, not only for its amazing illustrations, but for the thematic concepts the book touches upon.  It’s interesting to read about a society trying to re-establish itself.  It makes you question what you yourself would do if placed in that situation.

Todd:  Very true!  I think I would last all of 5 minutes out there!  All in all, I think my favorite part about this book is that it has stayed so true to its original intentions.  Kirkman writes these characters and their interactions just as I would imagine them happening.  It’s almost as if the zombies are unnecessary at this point.  The stress and conflict have gotten to a point where it is self-driving.  I think it is an awesome introspection into our lives and how stress affects us, and I can’t wait to see what Kirkman has in store for book 3!

Todd’s Rating: 5 out of 5 Star

Kim’s Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

This is my ninth completed review for the Page to Screen Challenge

Image Comics (2007)
Hardcover 304 pages
One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a copy of The Walking Dead (Paperback Volume 1) by Robert Kirkman! For your chance to win simply leave a comment in the thread below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight of Tuesday May 24, 2011.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Wednesday May 25, 2011.  Giveaway open to US & Canadian residents only. Good luck!!

#30 A Review of The Walking Dead (Hardcovers Book 1) by Robert Kirkman

Cover Image

This review is going to be a bit different from my other reviews, as Todd and I both finished this book this week.  Back in November I reviewed The Walking Dead Volume 1, which turns out to be the first chapter of hardcover book 1.  Currently there are 14 paperback volumes and 7 hardcover books.  Each hardcover book consists of 2 paperback volumes, while the paperback volumes consist of 6 comics.  Slightly confusing? Yes. Awesome? You bet. Since Todd and I didn’t want to bombard you with the same review of the book back-to-back, we figured we’d join forces and write a dual review showcasing our different/similar points of view.

Todd:  What can I say about zombies?  Ever since I was introduced to this lovely group of the quasi-dead via Night of the Walking Dead in middle school I’ve been entranced by the idea that a zombie apocalypse might befall me during my lifetime.  Most would be disgusted and scared by this possibility, but I’ll admit I would be kind of excited if it happened.  Mind you I’m talking about an apocalypse in which I survive along with all my friends and family, but get to exact some sweet zombie-killing revenge in the process.  I know it’s far-fetched, but then again aren’t zombies in general?  Regardless, I digress.  Kirkman weaves an enthralling and amazing tale of survival in The Walking Dead, as he tells the tale of a small town cop named Rick who wakes up from a coma amidst a full-blown zombie infection.  What follows is the tale of survival and adventure between Rick and additional survivors as they battle the horde of zombies.  Told with chilling realism and a healthy dose of emotional struggle, Kirkman follows Rick and company as they struggle to fight off zombie attacks and create some sense of normalcy amongst their freakish new reality.  Will they be able to survive?  To thrive?

Kim: Back in November I started my review with the following quote by Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman:

To me, the best zombie movies aren’t the splatter fests of gore and violence with goofy characters and tongue in cheek antics.  Good zombie movies show us how messed up we are, they make us question our station in society…and our society’s station in the world.  They show us gore and violence and all that cool stuff too…but there’s always an undercurrent of social commentary and thoughtfulness.” 

In reading hardcover book 1, I was able to see exactly what Kirkman was going for.  While upon first glance the book’s illustrations can be quite graphic and intense, I was not deterred and really got into the dialogue between the characters.  This is a book that is primarily about what happens to people emotionally and socially, rather than physically as they try to deal with the radical changes around them.  I was really intrigued in how Kirkman tackled the theme of love in chapter 2.  The theme of love is prevalent in multiple ways.  You have the love a parent feels for a child, the love a boyfriend feels for a girlfriend, a husband feels for a wife, love in times of grief, love in times of intimacy, etc etc.  This is definitely not what I expected for a zombie story.  The fact that Kirkman created something with so much emotion and a bunch of characters that were so relatable that you could see yourself in them was phenomenal.

Todd:  I definitely agree with your analysis of chapter 2.  However, the high point for me was the ending of chapter 1.

Kim: Yeah, the ending of chapter 1 was CRAZY.

Todd: I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t read it, but all the action and stress has finally began to take a toll on the survivors.  To this point, they have kept it together mentally  because of necessity.  In order to survive they needed to focus and push all other feelings to the back burner.  The last few panels of chapter 1 release this pent-up emotion that everyone is feeling in a very interesting way, which was an amazingly clever way of Kirkman to introduce a cliffhanger and segue into chapter 2.

Kim: I definitely agree with you on the cliffhanger front.  The end of chapter 2 sets us up with an awesome cliffhanger as well.  The way each chapter is playing out is truly perfect.  The story is neither rushed nor dragging.  Kirkman does a fantastic job at making sure the reader gets emotionally involved with the story, the characters, and the themes.

Todd:  I think it’s definitely a measure of success when you can get your readers so emotionally involved in your work.  I think a lot of it stems from the fact that this is fiction, yet it has the potential (even if it is a remote one) to become nonfiction.  That fact lingers in the back of our minds as we reevaluate our own lives and relationships in the context that we could lose those closest to us at any time.

Kim:  It’s a testament to Kirkman’s ability as a writer to state that he totally gets the human mind and the human heart.  These ever-present themes of love, loss, grief, family, survival, etc. are written realistically.  Speaking of things being realistic, I have to give major props to the illustrators, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard.  Their illustrations are absolutely fantastic.  They are able to render the proper emotions in each of the characters’ faces, which only add to the enjoyment a reader has with the work.

Todd:  I definitely agree.  Those zombie illustrations creeped me out!  Overall, I am incredibly impressed by this book.  My love of zombies notwithstanding, I think that the character driven soul of this book makes it outshine all the blood and gore that fills the zombie genre.  I heartily recommend it to anyone, as we all have common traits that are highlighted very eloquently (albeit with some zombies mixed in for good measure) in this work.

Kim:  Ditto to everything Todd said.  I hope that our joint commentary has piqued your interest in the Walking Dead series!  We’re both reading hardcover book 2, so keep an eye out for another joint commentary next week!

Todd’s Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Kim’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is my eighth completed review for the Page to Screen Challenge

Image Comics (2006)
Hardcover 304 pages
ISBN: 9781582406190