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

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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 

My Favorite Ten Books of the Year! (Part I)

With the year coming to a close I figured I’d post my favorite ten books that I read for the year. The books below haven’t necessarily been published in 2010, they’re just my favorite reads for 2010. 

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 1.) Persuasion by Jane Austen – This is one of my all time favorite novels! I re-read it again this year for a group discussion that was going on in the Jane Austen group on goodreads. A quick synopsis is that Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth fall in love once upon a time and become engaged.  Anne breaks their engagement after being persuaded by her family that it is not a suitable match, due to Frederick’s lack of wealth and lower social status.  Broken hearted Frederick throws himself into his duties as an officer in the navy, quickly gaining wealth and title.  Several years later the Elliot’s, now having financial difficulties, rent out their family estate to Wentworth’s sister and brother-in-law; the Crofts.  When Wentworth goes to visit the Crofts he’s thrust into Anne’s company again.  The two must figure out if the love they once shared still exists within each other, or if it is lost forever.  I am so glad that I re-read Persuasion again this year.  I had read it a long time ago and completely forgot how much I truly loved it.  If you have never read it, then I highly suggest you do.  It’s a love story that you will truly never forget.

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2.) A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick – WOW.  My mind is STILL blown from this book.  Just wow wow wow wow wow.  Goolrick’s way of writing is incredibly captivating.  His characters are vivid, his settings are descriptive, and his story is unique and imaginative.  Ralph Truitt, missing female companionship, puts an ad into the newspaper for a wife.  Catherine Land, a woman with a sordid past, answers the ad and begins the long trek to Wisconsin to be Ralph’s wife.  The reader soon learns that there is more to Catherine then originally thought.  I highly suggest reading this book.  You can read my full review here

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3.) Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman – My book club selected it as the group read for September and boy am I glad.  Klosterman is definitely the foremost expert on current pop culture.  His books are filled with references to music, movies, celebrities, major events, ect.  I wanted to have an intellectual conversation with everyone as soon as I finished the book. In Killing Yourself to Live, Klosterman takes the reader on his journey cross-country to figure out why it is that a musician needs to die in order to become a legend.  He visits the sites where musicians have died, hoping it will shed light on their immortality.  While he doesn’t necessarily come up with an answer to that question, he does come up with answers to some of the questions he has about his own life.  If you’re a fan of music this is a great book to read.

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4.) Fitzwilliam Darcy: Last Man in the World – Abigail Reynolds – I’m a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice sequels, which is unsurprising considering that P&P is my favorite book ever.  I read a lot of Jane Austen fan fiction over the course of this year, with this being my favorite of all of them.  Abigail Reynolds specializes in writing Pride and Prejudice variations.  She essentially writes Pride and Prejudice while changing a major detail.  In this particular instance Reynolds makes Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth the one that sticks.  Darcy, thinking that Elizabeth has said yes to marrying him, kisses her, and is then caught.  Since propriety was such a major think back in the day, Elizabeth says that yes they are engaged and begins her facade into being a dutiful but unhappy bride for Darcy.  Darcy is none the wiser, he sincerely thinks that Elizabeth is happy to be married to him.  When he does find out the unhappy truth he is devastated and crushed.  They must figure out a way to make their marriage work or be unhappy for all their lives to a partner they despise.  The reason I think this was my favorite of all of the P&P sequels/variations/retellings I read was the characterizations.  Reynolds writes the characters just as rich and full of life as Austen did, which in-turn makes her books an absolute joy to read.

Cover Image5.) Walking Dead Volume I by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore – Todd and I started watching AMC’s The Walking Dead when it premiered a few months ago and were in love with the idea of it.  We went out to Barnes and Noble soon after and decided to pick up the first volume of the graphic novels.  The story, art-work, writing, just everything about it blew me away.  It’s a spectacular view of life and how the most dire of situations not only changes us as people, but society as a whole.  There is a lot more to this series than meets the eye.  If you’re unafraid to delve into the deeper meaning of the words and actions of the characters you can find it a very fulfilling read.  You can read my full review here.

So that concludes my top 5 favorite books I’ve read for the year.  Please check in within the next day or so for numbers 6-10!

Happy Reading!

The Weekly Roundup – Week 5

So I’d like to start my weekly roundup this week with the hope that everyone had a great holiday!

Belle and Sebastian (Our cats)

Last Wednesday I did a mini-happy hour with some friends from work.  Our offices were closed on Thursday and Friday so it was just a little way to start the holiday for us.  After we hung out for a bit Todd and I headed off to Home Depot to go pick out our Christmas tree.  Todd and I do fake trees because of the cats.  We had a small little apartment tree the past two years, but have out grown it now.  With our new tree in hand we headed home to get it set up and into its base.  With that all settled I began packing for our overnight trip to Jersey. 

Thursday morning we got up and watched a majority of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade while getting ready.  We hopped in the car and started the trek down to Jersey.  We hit major traffic on the Garden State Parkway but we got to Todd’s parents house with time to spare!  After a short respite from all the traveling we hopped in the car again, this time to Todd’s Aunt and Uncle’s house.  We had a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner with them and got back to Todd’s parents around 11pm.  Todd’s little cousin Sarah (who is the most adorable thing ever) kept us busy the whole trip, so as soon as we got back it was straight to bed.

Our Christmas Tree

Friday morning we headed up to my parents house (half hour away from Todd’s parents) to help them decorate a bit for Christmas.  We had lunch with my best friend Stephen and then continued with the decorating.  We had a Thanksgiving buffet for dinner with my parents, Grandma, and Aunt Barbara, and then it was back up to Connecticut.  Todd and I made it back to our apartment around 6pm and started getting all of our own Christmas stuff out.  I started blasting the holiday CD’s and decorating our tree.  Adam came over and we had some eggnog and got in the spirit. 

Christine and Me

Saturday was a great day as my sister Christine and her fiancée Jason stopped by on their way down from Cape Cod.  (They live in Manhattan but went up to the Cape to spend the holiday with Jason’s family)  So over they came for lunch with their two dogs Ethan and Chelsea. It’s always hysterical to see the dogs and cats react with each other.  Sebastian tries to act all brave, but as soon as a dog gets near him he freaks out!  We all just hung out, had lunch, and randomly watched the end of Flashdance.  (It was on TV, don’t ask)  Todd and I also watched Brothers later on in the day. WHOA good movie.  I highly recommend it!

On Sunday Todd and I drove to Providence to see Jen, another of our really good friends.  We hung out and got lunch together had bubble teas, and walked around for a bit before heading to the largest liquor store I’ve ever seen.  As most of you know from Todd’s posts he is a HUGE beer fan. This liquor store had almost half  the store dedicated to just beer.  You could mix and match tons of beers from small breweries across the country.  We picked a bunch of beers and loaded the car up.  We headed back and made it home by 6.  It’s only been two days and I think I drank all the beers I picked out.  Todd can tell you more about them in his post, but I’m already counting the days to see when we can head back to that liquor store!

Somehow in the midst of everything that has gone on in the past few days I’ve managed to read three graphic novels.  I was definitely on a graphic novel kick this week.  Sense and Sensibility, The Walking Dead Volume 1, and Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography. I owe you all a review on the last one. 

With December here it’s time to kick into an even higher gear. (I didn’t know I had any more to kick into)  I’ve read 80 books, leaving 20 for December.  I looked back at my totals and realized I had read 12 for the month of November.  I will absolutely die if I make it to 92 books and fail my challenge by 8 books.  If anyone has recommendations for short fast reads let me know.  I’m in the middle of two books right now (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs and Fifth Avenue 5AM) and am really hoping to complete them in the next day or two. 

Totals: 80 books read, 20 to go.  Here I go.

Happy Reading!

#79 A Review of The Walking Dead: Volume 1 by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore

Cover ImageTo 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.”  These are just some of the words that Robert Kirkman writes in his introduction to volume 1 of The Walking Dead

Kirkman sets out to tell the story of Rick Grimes, a police officer who has awoken from a coma to find himself alone and in a very different world than the one he once knew.  Waking up in an abandoned hospital he begins exploring his once familiar surroundings only to find walking corpses. Shocked and dismayed, he begins the journey from the hospital to his home, hoping to find his family. He finds his home abandoned, ransacked, and in total disarray.  Meeting a young boy and his father he is told that a disease has ravaged mankind and that those untouched have gone to Atlanta where the government was working on a cure.  Rick believes that his family has gone there and begins the trek to find his family.

The Walking Dead is my second venture into the world of zombies, the first being Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  After reading Kirkman’s introduction I can completely agree with him about what makes a good zombie story.  In this first volume alone you see what people are willing to do/not do in the toughest of times, marriages and friendships are stretched to their limits, and you see what happens to people when almost all hope is stripped out of their lives. 

Kirkman states in his introduction that he wants to take it slow with The Walking Dead.  I whole-heartily agree with his assessment as it gives you the opportunity to really invest in the characters and storyline.  So far 79 comics have been published since its original release in 2003.  They have been compiled into 13 volumes (my copy was volume 1, which consisted of comics 1-6) with more on the way. 

For those interested, AMC has also turned the graphic novels into a weekly television show on Sunday nights.  The visuals of the show are absolutely stunning and the writing is wonderful.  The events lay out slightly different from those in volume 1, but the important societal questions remain.

4 of 5 Stars