Monday, March 1, 2010

Death Troopers

Death Troopers is a zombie novel set in the Star Wars universe.

As a zombie fan and a Star Wars fan it was never a matter of if I'd read Death Troopers, but when. To my credit, I didn't buy it, but I did request to have it put on hold for me at my local library. I mean... it's a Star Wars zombie novel. Who wouldn't want to read that? And, as far as these things go, it's not a terrible book, though it certainly wasn't a very good one. But I enjoyed it, for the most part.

To begin with, Joe Schreiber is a wonderful writer. His prose is clean and eloquent, and his ability to build up tension is incredible. This is a tense, even scary book. The man knows how to write horror and how to keep a reader on the edge of his or her seat. The first half of this novel was all build up and suspense, and the only problem was that the story just never deliveredin the end. But I enjoyed his writing enough to be interested in checking out one of his non-Star Wars horror novels.

But... everything else about this novel was pretty terrible. It was just trite, cliche, and completely anticlimactic. It takes place on some intergalactic Imperial prison barge that comes across a derelict Imperial starship... that's infected with zombies. The entire "plague" sweeps through the ship in about five minutes, killing off everybody except for the five or so main characters, who are only said to have some kind of "immunity" that kept them from being killed off. And then, of course, the dead eventually start to rise.  The rising of the dead seems selective, however, since out of a thousand or so zombies, the only ones that seem to attack are either family members, friends, or loved ones. Seriously, every time a zombie attacked somebody in this novel, the prose would say something like, "and then the zombie lifted its head and it was Trig's father!"

And then, about halfway through the novel, there was a big reveal of two major Star Wars characters who just happened to be stuck in solitary confinement during the events of this book. I won't spoil it for anybody, but it is odd that Han Solo and Chewie never mentioned in any of the films about how they fought and beat an army of zombie storm troopers. You'd think that would've come up in conversation during the long space voyage to Alderan.

At the end of the day, there is little to recommend this book either for Star Wars fans or zombie fans. Strictly speaking, these weren't really zombies, and their level of ability and intelligence seemed to change from chapter to chapter, depending on the contrivances of the plot the author demanded. And after you take away Han Solo and a few casual mentions of Star Wars details ("that zombie moved as fast as a gundark!"), this was pretty far removed from the Star Wars universe as a whole. I mean, if you're going to have zombies in the Star Wars universe, you'd better have a Jedi slicing some up with his lightsaber. Otherwise, what's the point?

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