Sunday, October 20, 2013

Salvation Is Found And Threatened In The Walking Dead - Book Seven!

The Good: Good character development, Engaging-enough plot.
The Bad: Mediocre artwork, Seems expensive for the story . . .
The Basics: Rich Grimes and his group acclimate to a pretty normal life in The Walking Dead - Book Seven!

As the fourth season of The Walking Dead kicks off, I’ve been thrilled to pick up more of the books to read. Today, I whipped through The Walking Dead - Book Seven, which is one of the first books from The Walking Dead that has not had any incidents that have made it into the television series. That, for me, was refreshing in that for the first time in a long time, I had no idea or reasonable theories about who might live and who was likely to die in the book.

The Walking Dead - Book Seven is the two chapter hardcover anthology that follows up on The Walking Dead: Life Among Them (reviewed here!) and starts with Rick Grimes and his band of survivors safely ensconced in the walls of Douglas’s protected town. At this point, everyone who is a fan of the television show will only recognize seven of the characters in the book and that helps the book stand well on its own for those who are not fans of the show. In the book series, which precede the creation of the television show, The Walking Dead - Book Seven starts to hint at how a normal life might look for survivors of an apocalypse.

Having made it to safety within the walls of Douglas’s village near Alexandria, Virginia, Rick Grimes and his friends are acclimating to life without simple survival concerns. As the day dawns on the first day of work assignments, Abraham is not eager to go out on the other side of the wall. Out on the construction project building the wall, Abraham effectively takes over as a leader when he saves the life of one of the other workers and helps the workers fight the walkers that are advancing upon them. Despite Father Gabriel trying to convince Douglas that the Atlanta survivors are bad people, Douglas allows them to stay and even puts up with Rick wigging out on an abusive husband. After beating the crap out of Pete to protect Jessie and their son Ron, Rick seems to be on the outs with Douglas.

But when Pete shows his true colors and Douglas’s wife, Regina, ends up as a casualty and another group comes and tries to bully their way into the compound, Rick is vindicated. The sense that Rick Grimes has the leadership to keep everyone alive inside the compound is quickly destroyed by a herd of walkers that finds a weak spot in the wall. As the survivors try to stay alive, with Glenn and Andrea stuck outside the walls, Rick faces the last loss he might actually suffer!

The Walking Dead - Book Seven takes a long time to get to any horror or survivalist aspects, which might be what drives readers to The Walking Dead. But the internal struggle in The Walking Dead - Book Seven is a compelling and realistic one. The conflict is a more intimate one where abusive jerks are villains and Rick Grimes has the ability to see how quickly people revert to their lesser traits when the opportunity is offered. Instead of focusing on the nameless threats of walkers and the viral infection that has laid waste to the world, The Walking Dead - Book Seven explores how human nature does not change. Jerks are jerks and people who are stuck on the outside will violently try to take what they want from those who have the means.

The menace from the walkers comes and pops up at a realistic juncture and The Walking Dead - Book Seven smartly restores Rick Grimes to a more heroic or reasonable position before the book is sucked into an all-out bloodbath. The menace of the walkers is presented in a sufficiently horrifying way to make readers want to see just what will come next. Having no clue what comes next in the storyline, I’m actually excited for Book Eight.

As one might expect, The Walking Dead - Book Seven has casualties and while some of them are pretty much contained within this book (there are births and deaths of entire relationships in Book Seven) , there is only one big casualty of a character fans are likely to actually be invested in. The Walking Dead - Book Seven is a compelling volume, though, in that it takes the strong community and slowly weakens and undermines it, putting those who have survived so long in a position that is dangerous and precarious . . . and one I am eager to return to.

For other The Walking Dead books, check out my reviews of:
Days Gone Bye
Book One
Book Two
Book Three
Book Four
Book Five
Fear The Hunters


For other graphic novel reviews, please check out my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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