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The Walking Dead: Compendium Four (Volumes 25-32)

Kirkman, Robert, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, Cliff Rathburn. The Walking Dead: Compendium Four. 2019.

After fifteen years, this epic dystopian zombie series wrapped everything up in Volume 32!  I’m sad to see it come to an end, but it went out on Kirkman’s own terms and I was (mostly) pleased with its conclusion. There will be some spoilers throughout, but mostly in the review of the last volume.

Volume 25- No Turning Back: The residents of the three linked communities are out for blood once it is revealed to them what Alpha and The Whisperers did. The victim’s loved ones want immediate retaliation and don’t understand Rick’s reluctance in doing so. Rick and Maggie fight over their different leading styles and come to blows, and Paul shows he has Maggie’s back at all times. Rick goes to Negan and asks for his advice on how to handle the volatile revolt against his leadership. Let me repeat that, Rick asks an evil tyrant what to do next. Doubtful this is going to go well…

Volume 26- Call To Arms: This was the best volume in a long while! There were some great storylines followed up on, with room for growth. The militia begins their training, and Dwight continues to show leadership potential, although he claims to not want to be a leader. This reminds me of an earlier volume when Andrea tells Rick he is a better leader when he doesn’t want to be. Eugene makes contact with an unknown person on his shortwave radio. While he tries not to give away too much info and put the community at risk, I don’t have a good feeling about it. I’ve watched some of the TWD spinoff, Fear The Walking Dead and their radio interactions with another group did not end well for them. The best part of this volume was Negan’s escape (we all knew he would eventually!) and what he does afterward. As soon as you think he might have a tiny spark of humanity left in him, he destroys you. The ending was epic!

Volume 27- The Whisperer War: Another strong volume- it picks up with Negan bringing home his “trophy” to show Rick his intentions. Negan claims that Rick and the residents of Alexandria should trust him, as he has dealt a hard blow to the Whisperers, and willingly came back to face them. Beta discovers what Negan did and vows revenge. Rick tries to bring all his allies together to fight the horde of zombies that the Whisperers are hiding among, but not all the outposts are willing to send their members to join Alexandria’s militia. The militia plans their strategy, but of course, things never go well out in the field. Negan’s continued evolution is fascinating, with a few hints as to what Lucille represented to him. Beta hasn’t seemed like a strong villain compared to the Governor, Negan or Alpha, but the references to his face never having been seen intrigues me. Is he someone we know from the past? One aside about the artwork- it was much too busy. There were several two-page spreads that had too many panels that were hard to follow chronologically.

Volume 28- A Certain Doom: Rick, Andrea and their crew face the largest herd of zombies yet, heading straight towards Alexandria due to the Whisperers pushing them in that direction. The town is a well-oiled machine under Rick’s guidance and they no longer strictly react, they have a plan of action. That’s not to say things don’t get out of hand or verge on chaos, especially when a minor power coup occurs, but the team works well together. We even get some character development and some enlightening banter between Rick and Negan when they are stranded in a building together for some time. But a quip by Negan about avoiding being bitten is a foreshadowing about what soon happens to a beloved original character. The conclusion of the book gives this person a proper send-off and the chance for many to be able to say goodbye before the inevitable death. The death will be sure to reverberate in future volumes and will lay a heavy weight on the remaining character’s psyches.

Volume 29- Lines We Cross: This was my quickest TWD read ever! This story was definitely a bridge book between the action of fighting the large zombie herd in the last volume and whatever Kirkman has planned next. Lots of little things happen: Rick is still reeling from the devastating death of a loved one, Jesus and Aaron fall in love and a triangle is hinted at between Carl, Lydia and Sophia. Maggie is furious that Negan is on the loose, a spunky new character Juanita is added to the mix, and Eugene and others set out to find the people he has speaking to on a ham radio. We discover who Beta is and it’s incredibly anti-climatic.

Volume 30- New World Order: Eugene and Michonne’s group finally arrives in Ohio to meet the woman Stephanie that Eugene has been communicating by ham radio with. Instead, they are met by a large group of soldiers, decked out in Stormtrooper type of gear, and taken to meet Lance who wishes to interrogate the group. Turns out they are on the outskirts of The Commonwealth, a group of survivors 50K strong. We then meet Pamela, the governor, and find out this large group has based their new society on a class system built upon what you did before the outbreak. While the city seems to be thriving, there is an underlying issue of the haves vs the have nots. Michonne is shocked to meet someone from her past and decides to stay in the Commonwealth, while Eugene escorts Pam to Alexandria to meet Rick. This is a promising arc that could turn the series in a new direction. Now years out from the outbreak, how does civilization rebuild? How do scattered settlements of survivors unite when each group has had different types of leaders and coping strategies? I enjoyed this book, that had no Negan and way less zombie attacks than usual, plus the art was crisper with some great layouts.

Volume 31- The Rotton Core: In the last volume, we are introduced to the Commonwealth, a large settlement in Ohio that has rigid class structures but has managed to thrive. I thought it established a promising arc that could turn the series in a new direction, for now, years out from the outbreak, how does civilization rebuild? Last issue and this issue had less zombie attacks, for I would think that now that people know how to prevent more zombies from reanimating, there would be less and less zombies to dispatch as the years went by. That gives people more time to refashion their world, and there would be many different ways in which this could happen. With this being TWD, we are force-fed that Rick’s way is best (it actually usually is) and other settlements should adapt to the way Alexandria is governed. So we get a heartbreaking showdown between Rick and another certain someone who wants change fast and isn’t willing to take no for an answer. We also get a lot of character development between others with new romances developing, but the shifting scenes between different settlements and characters were abrupt with no visual cues that the scene had changed- you were just supposed to know who lived in what settlement to know where you were now. BTW- Carl is an asshole and he and Sophia had better not eventually get together.

Volume 32- Rest In Peace: Surprise! Kirkman unexpectedly brought TWD to a close in this volume after fifteen years of zombie madness! *Spoilers ahead*

I had enjoyed the story arc in the last few volumes of Rick and compony meeting survivors of the Commonwealth in Ohio that was 50K strong, led by a governor, Pamela. This large group has based their new society on a class system built upon what you did before the outbreak. While the city seems to be thriving, there is an underlying issue of the haves vs the have nots, and tensions arise as this new group sees how Alexandria residents are governed. As we moved away from the zombie outbreak there were fewer attacks, thus civilization could rebuild, and this was opening up new storylines but Kirkman was actually drawing the story to a close.

The pressure brewing between the two factions comes to a head, with important members of the Commonwealth planning a coup when a large zombie herd puts everyone in danger. Maggie, Carl and others join Rick in fighting them back, and in the aftermath, Pamela publicity loses the support of her people. As the Commonwealth stands on the brink of democracy instead of a monarchy, Pamela’s son Sebastian is furious at his loss of power and comes after Rick. The fallout of his actions are huge, and the storyline seems poised to go in a new direction. But it was all a fake-out as Kirkman followed up with a concluding issue with a significant time jump.

Twenty plus years have passed since Rick’s death at the hands of Sebastian, and the story shows us a grown-up Carl married to Sophia with a daughter of their own. The zombies are almost completely eradicated with a younger generation having no experience of having to fight for their very survival as older generations had to. Carl travels around the territory and we get to peek in at the lives of many of our favorite characters and see how Rick’s vision led to a better and safer world for them all. In fact, Rick is viewed as a savior with shrines to his memory.

When this sort of epic story concludes, there is no way to make all fans happy and as such, there were a few quibbles I had with some character’s final developments in the future. Negan, Juanita, Michonne, Jesus, Aaron, Eugene plus others are given adequate concluding cameos; but Maggie as President was turned into a leader who could not mother her son adequately because of her commitments, which was an ignoble end for her and Hershel. But my major issue was that Carl ended up with Sophia. He was allowed to sex it up with Lydia, while virginal Sophia had to wait for him until he sowed his wild oats. Lydia in the future was shown poorly as a morally questionable woman as she had dared to be sexually active as a teen with Carl. What a double standard for females and I really resented those angles.

Yet, overall, I was pleased with this concluding volume. Fifteen years is an amazing run, and Kirkman brought it to an end on his own terms and on a timetable that allowed him to go out while on top. I also would be remiss in not mentioning the talented artists- Adlard, Gaudiano and Rathburn- who gave us amazing artwork that brought the story to life. Kirkman’s concluding message to readers was a treat and explained it from his perspective. I will miss TWD, as it was a groundbreaking story that changed comics forever, but I am glad that it ended on such a strong note. In conclusion, remember these wise words- “In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living”. So…put down your phone and LIVE!

-Nancy

Aside- Compendium Four won’t actually be released until early October, but I’ve always organized my reviews under these covers, but I actually read this series as volumes.

Last time I wrote a TWD review on this blog was in 2016- I had wondered if Kathleen and I would still be blogging next time a compendium came out- but we are!!  🙂

Catch up on previous volumes at: Compendium One, Compendium Two, Compendium Three 

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A Tribute Anthology to Deadworld

The graphic novel series Deadworld and their titular character King Zombie has been around since 1986, and made zombies cool before The Walking Dead and World War Z. I’ve looked at some of the issues and amazing artwork of Deadworld before, but never truly read the series, so when this anthology became available on NetGalley, I was anxious to read it. While I was surprised that it wasn’t a graphic novel, instead it was a novella of eight short stories, I was pleased as short stories are a favorite genre of mine.

Before the eight stories there is an introduction by editor Lori Perkins, then a lovely tribute to comic publisher Gary Reed by Kevin VanHook and another tribute to the series by Thomas F. Monteleone with a shout out to the enigmatic King Zombie.

The Guitar Girl by Jason Henderson established an Old West feel in this story in the Deadworld universe. Dana, who tries to spread music and hope in a post-apocalyptic world, reunites a family.

Small Town Gay Bar by Andrew Robertson felt like an 80’s slasher movie, and required a suspension of disbelief as to how the zombies infiltrated this small Southern bar. Ending with a cliffhanger, I hope the appealing heroes make it to safety.

The Girl by Jennifer Williams had a dystopian feel with a mystical bent. Our plucky heroine didn’t get the glorious ending you were hoping for.

Home on the Range by Ken Haigh showcased the zombies as more a nuisance than a threat and had an innocuous ending.

Rearguard by Sarah Stegall had the best world building with a Creole family that truly seemed real. Ailing Harriet sends her grandchildren to safety with a box of family mementos while she stays behind. Her position as rearguard hearkens back to her days in the army as a young woman, and she takes out a zombie horde to keep her beloved family safe.

Gonna Get Close To You by Jamie K. Schmidt was on odd mashup of mob assassins, revenge and unrequited love. We get a reference to the Zombie King in this story and the idea that not all zombies are mindless minions.

Another Man’s Skin by George Ivanoff shows what family members will do for each other to ensure their survival. There is no room for sentimentality when you are battling the undead. Felt like a Twilight Zone episode with a twist I saw coming.

Pit Stop by Jeremy Wagner drops us in the middle of a post-apocalyptic world with Rhonda and two children trying to make it to safety. It definitely had a Walking Dead vibe and felt like it was part of a longer story instead of having a conclusion as the other stories did. Thus it was apropos that their was a mention that this story was an excerpt from Rabid Hearts. I was intrigued enough by this tale to want to know more about this story’s characters, so I’d like to know where to track down the longer story.

I enjoyed all the stories, as each writer added something strong to this Deadworld anthology. My interest has been piqued and I plan on tracking down some comic issues of the series next time I stop in my local comic book store. As my previous  T5W post shows, I am a big fan of the zombie genre, and this short story collection supplied by NetGalley for an honest review, was a welcome addition to my reading list!

-Nancy

Perkins, Lori, A Tribute Anthology to Deadworld and Comic Publisher Gary Reed. 2017.

Top 5 Wednesday: Books Featuring Zombies!

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. This month’s T5W topics center around Halloween, and when asked to pick my favorite type of scary creature, I knew zombies was it!

Revival is a favorite of mine, and I have written a lot of posts about it. In this now completed series, twenty three people inexplicably come back to life in rural small town Wisconsin. The “Revivers” are not your typical zombies looking for braaaiins. Instead they quietly rejoin their former lives, not even realizing or remembering their deaths. Their new existence sets the town on edge, with media scrutiny, a government quarantine and religious fanatics taking over the region. The series is being developed into a movie through Shatterglass Films.

Deluxe Edition One

Deluxe Edition Two

Deluxe Edition Three

Deluxe Edition Four

The Walking Dead is the grand-daddy of all zombie series.  A fascinating premise, that is getting a bit long in the tooth now, but is still beloved by many. I list the three compendiums I have reviewed on my blog, but I have also been keeping up with the smaller volumes as they come out, and putting reviews up on my Goodreads account.

Compendium One (Volumes 1-8)

Compendium Two (Volumes 9-16)

Compendium Three (Volumes 17-24)

This book must be listened to on audio…it was beyond good. The story covers the history of the world wide war against zombies, and the narrative covers a reporter getting first hand accounts from survivors that tell about the beginning of the epidemic, the resistance, and the aftermath of the zombie catastrophe.  Some of the standout characters/stories were Todd Wainio, the Redker Plan, the North Korea speculation, the female Russian soldier, the pilot of the downed plane, and the family at the Manitoba campsite. A tiny criticism, is that I figured out every supposed surprise in the stories, and the connections between the world-wide characters strained credibility. The actors voicing the characters in the audio edition were perfect- Mark Hamill! Nathan Fillon! Denise Crosby! Jeri Ryan! Common! Alan Alda! I will definitely be listening to this story again and again.

Negan has been a prominent villain in the long running The Walking Dead series, and is a perverse mix of monster and savior. The question of how he became so twisted and his backstory during the zombie apocalypse is explained in this book that just came out the same week of Volume 28.

After is a strong collection of nineteen short stories about life “after” a catastrophic event. As with any compilation with various authors, some are stronger than others. One of the standouts was  After the Cure by Carrie Ryan. It  took the zombie story trope and subverted it. Vail is a teenager that was previously a zombie like creature but was given a cure to rehabilitate her. Society has a hard time accepting those rehabilitated people back into their communities, and the people themselves still feel some degree of hunger and a need to be back with their undead packs. Despite the melancholic nature of this story, there was a nugget of hope built into the end.

Who would have thought that zombies could be so appealing, but my reading list doesn’t lie!

-Nancy

The Walking Dead: Compendium Three (Volumes 17-24)

twd-com3
Kirkman, Robert, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, Cliff Rathburn. The Walking Dead: Compendium Three. 2015.

Here we go again. Some new villains come into play, and Rick and his crew continue to fight the living and the dead! Warning- some spoilers.

Volume 17-Something To Fear: No!!!! So did you think the Governor was bad? Well then, it’s time to meet Negan. Two fan-favorites bite the dust, with the second death being especially heartbreaking. Rule of thumb with TWD- if a volume ends on a hopeful note, the next one will devastate you.

Volume 18- What Come After: After the heartbreaking death in the last volume, Rick regroups. As Negan doesn’t know who he is dealing with, he thinks he has cowed Rick and the others. He has another thing coming. I love that Heath speaks some much-needed truth to Michonne. Enough of her man-stealing crap.

Volume 19-March to War: Leaders Rick, Paul, and Ezekiel along with the residents of Alexandria, The Hilltop Colony and The Kingdom decide they are going to take on Negan. This book is another bridge book, for it is setting up characters (I like the conversation between Ezekiel and Michonne) and scenarios as they prepare for war.

Volume 20-All Out War Part 1: Rick leads the united three communities against Negan. Although they have an initial first victory, Negan regroups and comes at them again. Negan shows some crazy morals, as he stops a rape and voices his long-term strategy, but yet then he does…

Volume 21-All Out War Part 2: I have to give props to Negan- he is a fantastic villain. While evil and misguided, he is much more believable than the damn Governor. So…we have more mayhem, needless death, and double-crosses. Rick reverses yet again on moral issues- in previous books, he said they must be better than their enemies and spare them,…then wait, no, we must kill our enemies to survive…ok now we must show mercy and be civilized in this book. Pick a stance Rick, and get control of your son who tries again to be judge and jury of whether a person lives or dies.

Volume 22- A New Beginning: Two years have passed since the war with Negan and the communities have thrived since then with community building and trade networks established. Negan has been neutered, but don’t count him out. I’m sure he’ll figure out a way to create some chaos in the future. A new band of survivors has been discovered and they are as wary of Alexandria as Rick and his crew were when they discovered it. As there has been a lull in epic villainy for awhile, a new threat is discovered at the end of this volume. A new beginning indeed.

Volume 23- Whispers Into Screams: A large contingent of survivors are found, living amidst the zombies, called The Whisperers. How they have survived is revealed, but many questions remain about their motives and standard of living. Carl falls for the daughter of the leader Alpha, and is incensed regarding some of their ways. Tensions mount at the Hilltop among the different factions, and a showdown is imminent.

Volume 24- Life and Death: Beginning: Welcome back Michonne! Interesting character development to explain where she has been and why. Middle: Alexandria trade fair. The surrounding communities and their residents come together to trade, network and hook up. Ending: No!!! OMG, the boundary line set up by Alpha to warn Rick to stay away from her and The Whisperers! The last few pages break your heart, as the panels are split up showing the newest victims, and the reactions of their friends and loved ones at the fair not knowing where they are yet. The feels!

These compendiums only come out every three or four years, so you won’t see another TWD review from me until 2019 or so (although I will keep up with the smaller volumes)! Remember- “In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living”. So…put down your phone and LIVE!

-Nancy

Read the others volumes at: Compendium One, Compendium Two, Compendium Four

 

World War Z audio edition

 

wwz
Brooks, Max. World War Z. 2006.

 

I listened to the audio version of this book back in 2014 (Goodreads review), and LOVED it beyond belief. The actors voicing each character were perfect, and made the book come alive, more than if I had actually just read the print book. When my family went on a vacation this summer, I insisted on bringing this audio book along and forced them to listen to it (don’t worry- my kids are teens), for I was determined that they would love it as much as I did. While they aren’t as rabid about it as me, they all enjoyed it.

When I first listened to it I recognized some distinctive voices right away, but some were harder for me to place. I did some Google sleuthing to match up each character and I found this blog post that gave me all the information I was looking for. All the following data came from the  blog, In a Sea of K’s, and she should get all the credit for the research!

Introduction: Max Brooks as The Interviewer

WARNINGS

  • Greater Chongqing, United Federation of China [Patient Zero/The First Case] — Steve Park as Kwang Jingshu (the Chinese doctor)
  • Lhasa, the People’s Republic of Tibet [Smuggler seeing signs] — Frank Kamai as Nury Televadi (smuggler)
  • Meteora, Greece [Bandits in cave/Canadian soldier’s account] — Nathan Fillion as Stanley MacDonald (Canadian soldier)
  • The Amazon Rain Forest, Brazil [virus-infected heart transplant] — Paul Sorvino as Fernando Oliveira (corrupt doctor)
  • Bridgetown Harbor, Barbados, West Indies Federation [South African slum outbreak] — Ade M’Cormack as Jacob Nyathi (Black South African)
  • Tel Aviv, Israel [Gathering Evidence/The Warmbrunn-Knight Report] — Carl Reiner as Jurgen Warmbrunn (Israeli spy)
  • Bethlehem, Palestine [Militant Son/Family Move to Israel] — Waleed Zuiater as Saladin Kader (Rebelling son)

BLAME

  • Langley, Virginia USA [CIA director/CIAs non-response] — Jay O. Sanders as Bob Archer (CIA guy)
  • Vaalajarvi, Finland [The Military/America’s response] — Dennis Boutsikaris as General Travis D’Ambrosia (military brass)
  • Vostok Station, Antarctica [Capitalist who marketed vaccine] — Martin Scorsese as Breckinridge “Breck” Scott (moneymaker without remorse)
  • Amarillo, Texas, USA [Former White House chief-of-staff] — Simon Pegg as Grover Carlson (White House spin doctor)
  • Troy, Montana, USA [Zombies attack family in suburbia] — Denise Crosby as Mary Jo Miller (suburban mom)

THE GREAT PANIC

  • Parnell Air National Guard Base: Memphis, Tennessee, USA [Highway traffic jam/zombies] — Bruce Boxleitner as Gavin Blaire (derigible pilot)
  • Alang, India [Ship Scrapyard] — Ajay Naidu as Ajay Shah (Indian refugee)
  • Topeka, Kansas, USA [Feral children; church attack] — Nicki Clyne as Sharon (4-year-old)
  • Khuzhir, Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal, the Holy Russian Empire [Russian army experiences/decimation] — Jeri Ryan as Maria Zhuganova (Female Russian Soldier)
  • Bridgetown, Barbados, West Indies Federation [Famous Millionaire’s Haven] — Henry Rollins as T. Sean Collins (merc)
  • Ice City, Greenland [Iran & Pakistan] — Maz Jobrani as Ahmed Farahnakian (Iranian pilot)
  • Denver, Colorado, USA [The Battle of Yonkers] — Mark Hamill as Todd Wainio (Army infantry)

TURNING THE TIDE

  • Robben Island, Cape Town Province, United States of Southern Africa [The Redeker Plan] — Eamonn Walker as Paul Redeker and Xolelwa Azania (South African plan)
  • Armagh, Ireland [Hamburg, Germany, Army withdrawal] — Jürgen Prochnow as Philip Adler (West German soldier)
  • Yevchenko Veterans’ Sanatorium, Odessa, Ukraine (Kiev bridge blown to prevent zombies crossing) — David Ogden Stiers as Bohdan Tara Kondratiuk (Kievian soldier)
  • Sand Lakes Provincial Wilderness Park, Manitoba, Canada [Family Flight to Canada] — Michelle Kholos as Jesika Hendricks (little girl flees)
  • Udaipur Lake Palace, Lake Pichola, Rajasthan, India [General Raj-Singh; monkeys and blowing the pass] — Kal Penn as Sardar Khan (Indian soldier with the monkeys)

HOME FRONT

  • Taos, New Mexico [DeStRes, talent and tools] — Alan Alda as Arthur Sinclair (DeStRes guy)
  • Burlington, Vermont [Vice President, capital punishment] — Rob Reiner as “The Whacko” (VP)
  • Wenatchee, Washington [Wheelchair Home Watch; quizlings] — Dean Edwards as Joe Muhammad (wheelchair neighborhood watch guy)
  • Malibu, California [Countering suicides with success stories] — Frank Darabont as Roy Elliot (director)
  • Parnell Air National Guard Base, Tennessee [Pilot of downed plane] — Becky Ann Baker as Christina Eliopolis (Downed pilot)

AROUND THE WORLD

  • Province of Bohemia, the European Union [Castles, She wouldn’t leave] — Eamonn Walker as David Allen Forbes (Englishman)
  • Ulithi Atoll, Federated States of Micronesia [Radio Free Earth] — Parminder Nagra as Barati Palshigar (Radio translator)
  • The Demilitarized Zone: South Korea [North Korea mystery] — Brian Tee as Hyungchoi Choi (South Korean)
  • Kyoto, Japan [Okatu, hacker escape] — Masi Oka as Kondo Tatsumi (Japanese hacker)
  • Kyoto, Japan [Blind monk] — Frank Kamai as Sensei Tomonaga Ijiro (blind monk)
  • Cienfuegos, Cuba [Defending Cuba] — John Turturro as Seryosha Garcia Alvarez
  • Patriot’s Memorial, the Forbidden City, Beijing, China [Chinese submarine] — Ric Young as Admiral Xu Zhicai
  • Sydney, Australia [Space station] — Alfred Molina as Terry Knox
  • Ancud, Isla Grande de Chiloe, Chile [Saratoga Conference of Nations] — John McElroy as Ernesto Olguin

TOTAL WAR

  • Aboard the Mauro Altieri, 3000 feet above Vaalajarvi, Finland [Total War] — General D’Ambrosia
  • Denver, Colorado [The First Fight – Hope, New Mexico] — Todd Wainios
  • Ainsworth, Nebraska, USA [K9/soldier teams] — Common as Darnell Hackworth
  • Siberia, the Holy Russian Empire [Russian tactics; priests’ role] — F. Murray Abraham as Father Sergei Ryzhkov
  • Aboard the USS Holo Kai, off the Coast of the Hawaiian Islands [Fighting undersea zombies] — Brian Tee as Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Choi (Diver)
  • Quebec, Canada [Paris tunnels] — René Auberjonois as Andre Renard
  • Denver, Colorado – A Day Later [The Road to New York] — Todd Wainios

GOODBYES

  • Burlington, Vermont — The Whacko (VP)
  • Khuzhir, Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal, the Holy Russian Empire — Maria Zhuganova (Female Russian soldier)
  • Bridgetown Harbor, Barbados, West Indies Federation — T. Sean Collins (merc)
  • Sand Lakes Provincial Wilderness Park, Manitoba, Canada — Jesika Hendricks (fleeing child)
  • Troy, Montana, USA — Mary Jo Miller (suburban mom)
  • Chongqing, China — Kwang Jing-shu (Chinese doctor)
  • Wenatchee, Washington — Joe Muhammad (Wheelchair neighborhood watch artist)
  • Taos, New Mexico, USA — Arthur Sinclair (DeStRes guy)
  • Kyoto, Japan — Sensei Tomonaga Ijiro (blind monk)
  • Armagh, Ireland — Philip Adler (West German soldier)
  • Tel Aviv, Israel — Jurgen Warmbrunn (Israeli spy)
  • Aboard USS Tracy Bowden — Michael Choi (diver)
  • Denver, Colorado — Todd Wainios (Army infantry guy)

This version is the best audio book I have ever listened to. My God, it had Mark Hamill! It had Common! It had Denise Crosby! It had Jeri Ryan! It had Alan Alda! It had Simon Pegg! It had Nathan Fillion! I was swooning!

If you are looking for a great story this is your book. But put down the book, you must listen to the audio to get the full experience!

-Nancy

The Walking Dead: Compendium Two (Volumes 9-16)

compendium_2_cover_
Kirkman, Robert, Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn. The Walking Dead: Compendium Two. 2012.

More zombies. More brutality. More death. Now that we have that covered, let’s move onto volumes 9-16, at a mere 1068 pages.  Warning- some spoilers.

Volume 9- Here We Remain: I needed a break after the misery, suffering and heartbreak of volume 8. In this book, Rick and Carl regroup after their loss and deal, each in their own way, with the repercussions of what they did or didn’t do. Slowly they regroup with some of the survivors of the massacre and take in an interesting trio of new characters. What does the future hold after such a devastating loss? Who knows- but it won’t be simple or happy…

Volume 10- What We Become: I was willing to overlook this in the last book because the prison catastrophe was new, but WHY hasn’t Rick gone back to find Lori and baby Judith and put them out of their zombie misery the way he did with Shane? This bothers me. Yea, the prison is completely overrun, but still. Theme of not being what you once were: Duane and his son, the twins(!), and the conversation Rick and Abraham have after the attack on Carl. Yep, a zombie apocalypse has a way of changing things.

Volume 11-Fear The Hunters :  As the story progresses the question arises- who exactly are the hunters? Is it Ben, who hunted his twin Billy? Is it Carl who dealt with Ben? Is it the fringe group who first ate their own children and then pick off humans traveling by? Or is it Rick, Andrea, Michonne and Abraham who mete out justice and avenge a loved one? This was definitely my favorite of the books so far, for the deaths weren’t gratuitous, instead they were heartbreaking and affecting. Favorite line: “Tainted meat!!!”

Volume 12- Life Among Them: The group’s journey to Washington DC continues until Eugene’s deceit is accidentally discovered. I wasn’t even mad- can you blame a weak guy for looking for an angle that will keep him safe? Soon afterwards another survivor from a nearby walled town approaches them and introduces them to the community of Alexandria and the survivors there. The residents there have maintained civility (not like the Governor and the town he ruled!) but suspicions remain for Rick’s weary band. Nothing is ever easy for any of them…

Volume 13- Too Far Gone: Rick’s group uneasily settles into the relative safety of the town Alexandria, but remain wary, as they don’t know the town’s inhabitants and safety protocols. Homes, food, and jobs are available, but at what cost? Rick is unable to relax and wishes to remain in charge, as he feels he can trust himself but is unable to put the lives of his followers in the hands of another. Andrea wisely points out that he was a better leader when he didn’t want to be one, in comparison to him wanting to do a power grab in this new community. As is typical, the group can never let down their guard, and new threats appear both inside and outside of the town’s gates.

Volume 14- No Way Out: Rick’s group settles further into the town of Alexandria. Many romances are either being established or revealed for the first time. Not happy with Abraham- throwing away a good relationship, just as Tyreese did. A zombie horde surrounds the community and some heartbreaking decisions and sacrifices are made. And yet there is actually some hope at the end, as the community works together as a team to combat the threat.

Volume 15- We Find Ourselves: The town of Alexandria cleans up the mess after the zombie horde attack- both physically and mentally. Abraham makes the situation with Rosita even worse- digging the knife in deeper after he betrays her. And then he and his new chickie think they can make a power move? Please…as if. I really like the coupling at the end between Rick and Andrea. Finally a good match for them both (although I did like Dale).

Volume 16- A Larger Fear Alexandria has become as stable as it can under the circumstances when they meet Paul “Jesus” Monroe who tells them of another community of 200 who have survived in the Hilltop Colony. Rick and his band are naturally wary of Paul and his community, but are pleasantly surprised and consider joining forces. Nothing is ever straightforward, and they are made aware that the Hilltop is paying tribute to a group called The Saviors, who protect them from zombies but demand half of their food and supplies for doing so. Now knowing about this yet-unseen threat; Rick talks hopefully to Glen, Andrea and Michonne about partnering with the Hilltop group, and this exchange is shown in some poignant full-page spreads at the end of this volume.

-Nancy

Read the others volumes at: Compendium One, Compendium Three, Compendium Four

 

The Walking Dead: Compendium One (Volumes 1-8)

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Kirkman, Robert, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore & Cliff Rathburn. The Walking Dead. 2009.

I have read almost all of this series, so this post is a bit of a cheat: I took my previous Goodreads reviews and put them all together into this post.  Warning- lots of SPOILERS!

Volume 1- Days Gone By: Good stuff…I know I’m going to enjoy this series. No explanation of how this zombie apocalypse started and just the briefest mention of the government lets you concentrate on the survivors and how they cope. In the end, a few likable characters die, reminding me not to get attached to anyone. I actually had compassion for Shane, but why he was longing for Lori escapes me. I like the black and white art with precise lines by Tony Moore. 

Volume 2- Miles Behind Us:  I will just state my impressions and thoughts on the many books ahead of me: There are a lot of hook-ups in this zombie apocalyptic world. I find this unlikely, mostly due to the poor hygiene everyone would be dealing with, plus the minor fact that zombies are trying to eat you. Poor Hershel. I actually thought his (flawed) logic of keeping zombies in the barn until more was known, understandable. He gives food and shelter to Rick and his band and then he loses several of his children and then has to deal with shrill horrible Lori afterward. I flippin’ hate Lori. The artist changed to Charlie Adlard in this volume and his work was much sketchier. While it was a good match to the rough world they are in now, the change was abrupt and it took me awhile to get used to it. 

Volume 3- Safety Behind Bars: Safety behind bars? Yea…right. We discover that you no longer need a zombie bite to become a zombie-you die, you’re a zombie. This then leads to Rick unearthing Shane to kill him for good, a last show of compassion in the book. I was troubled when the “tax evader” killed innocent Rachel and Susie. That scene was just too much…not cool Kirkman. I’m still hatin’ on Lori.

Volume 4- The Heart’s Desire: Rick’s speech at the end about living now, making their current situation the best they can and not waiting and hoping to be rescued was spot on. Rules need to be changed…so what worked in the past needs to adapt to their current situation. Life will never ever be the same- deal.with.it. Observations: Poor twins- being orphaned and although Andrea and Dale step up for them, it’s not the same. I felt for Andrew- he was so trusting and just couldn’t deal with it all when Dexter died.  Michonne- her being kick-ass is tempered by the fact that she deliberately went for Tyreese when she knew he and Carol were together. But believe me- most of the blame goes to Tyreese who throws away a good relationship for some easy gratification. A$$hole. That then leads to Carol going off the deep end. What she did was almost understandable, a cry for help- but NOT in front of her daughter.

Volume 5- The Best Defense: Worst book thus far. Why? The Governor. Rick’s group finds another band of survivors! Too bad they are bat shit crazy. I know I need to have a ‘suspension of disbelief’ in certain books and movies, but come on…the daughter? the arena? the heads?! Plus, what happens to Michonne is just too much- the brutality of the Governor to her is over the top and extreme.

Volume 6- This Sorrowful Life: The book obviously serves as a bridge book- we met the Governor in the last book and it’s all but certain the jail will be found soon by his followers in the next book. Michonne gets her revenge…boy, does she get her revenge! Lori’s nearing her due date, and Glenn and Maggie get engaged. Although I want to be happy for them, rooting for someone in these books means certain death.

Volume 7- The Calm Before: This book continues the lull of action since Woodbury, leading to some needed character development. Lori flashbacked to Shane (showing that he was not a bad guy- at least in the beginning), Glenn and Maggie got married, Judith was born, Dale had a significant injury and then was insecure regarding Andrea, and then what Carol does happens. I guess there were clues leading up to it, and she had a previous suicide attempt, but it still surprised me. Things seemed to be settling down for her, and she was still needy, but…poor little Sophia, no goodbye or parting sweet words said to her by her mother. Then at the end- who we all knew was coming sooner or later arrives.

Volume 8- Made To Suffer: The title of this volume is very truthful- how I suffered reading this book. The Governor is back. So many people die, including some main characters. But the worst is…well, I shouldn’t spoil too much! This book is so bleak, bleak, bleak. Thank God the tv series has kept some of the characters, dead in the comic books, alive on the show.

Morgan Special: A small vignette about Morgan and his son Duane surviving in Rick’s former neighborhood during the Christmas season. They are trying to find normalcy during a time that is anything but. Needed sweet story in the middle of depressing chaos.

-Nancy

Read up on the next volumes at: Compendium Two, Compendium Three, Compendium Four

 

My Boyfriend is a Monster #1: I Love Him to Pieces

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Tsang, Evonne, and Janina Gorrissen. My Boyfriend is a Monster #1: I Love Him to Pieces. 2010.

This was one of those things I was checking in at work one day and decided, “Why not?” I was intrigued by the covers and even though I’m not a horror fan, the premise and variety of the few I checked in were enough to pique my interest.

Dicey Bell and Jack Chen are parents – of an egg for their health class project. They have to coordinate taking care of their egg between Dicey’s baseball practices and Jack’s tabletop gaming nights. They manage to work it out, and become friends over the course of the project. But maybe… they both want to be more than friends. They go out on a date soon after the project is completed – only to have their first date interrupted by a zombie apocalypse. As they fight their way through the ever-increasing horde, Jack is bitten. Can they find a cure in time – and maybe have time for their first kiss?

After the cover was in color, I was a little surprised to open it and find it in black and white. It was a change of pace for me, though, and didn’t really mind when I got going. It was very clean and helped with the gorier parts. There isn’t anything in here that is over the top bloody and disgusting, which was good otherwise I would have stopped. The dialogue got super cheesy at times but I was kind of charmed. It was funny and a little tongue-in-cheek (multiple instances of making fun of zombie apocalypses even as it’s happening) and overall, I liked it.

– Kathleen

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