The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor - Part One

By Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga

Read by: Fred Berman

Macmillan Audio | 2013 | Running time: 8 hours | 6 CDs | $29.99

Reviewed by Michael Carey

Not for the faint hearted

author robert kirkman

It’s quite possible that any Americans that haven’t heard of the phenomena known as The Walking Dead are actually living under rocks, which would be preferable to the post apocalyptic setting in which The Walking Dead takes place.

Robert Kirkman created this zombie series originally as a comic book that debuted in 2003. In 2010, AMC aired a television show based on some of the comic’s characters expanding the reach and audience of Kirkman’s world. It was only a matter of time (and it didn’t take long at all) before novelizations hit the hungry streets.

Teaming up with Kirkman to turn those comic frames into thousands of words is Jay Bonansinga, an award-winning author and filmmaker known for his thrillers and in-your-face violence. It seemed a match made in heaven for the bringing the story of Woodbury and the Governor to novels.

The Fall of the Governor - Part One is the third of four books in the Woodbury series. A quick recap of the first two parts would introduce you to the Governor, Philip Blake, and Lilly Caul. The Governor is a man of his time, rising to the challenges of a zombie-filled world, but he starts to enjoy his power and the violence it takes to keep Woodbury “safe”. The town doctor warns a newcomer that he is capable of anything, and as the listener hears in The Fall of the Governor Part One, he couldn’t have hit closer to the mark.   The Governor comes into this novel at the top of his game, confident and in charge. Lilly on the other hand is troubled. After a failed plan to eliminate Blake, she is infuriated and saddened by the loss of her boyfriend.

Both will be challenged as foreigners enter Woodbury’s walls. Lilly will struggle to keep out love and hope as Austin, a young man newer to the town, makes passes at her. The Governor will test the outsiders, characters from the TV series, beyond any normal limits in attempts to unlock the secrets of their origins. When all else fails, the Governor concocts a new plan, but he will soon find out how little he knew about his guests.

The audio book has plenty of action and enough gruesome detail to whet most gore-lovers’ appetites. The narrative strikes the listener as a description of the graphic comic book frames. However it succeeds to weave its way through those images seamlessly illuminating the story within, which has at once a sense of peace and beauty mingled with violence and pain. It is a symphony of sorts matching the sweet string music of young lovers with the deafening sound of war drums.

On top of all of this juxtaposition there is Fred Berman (yes the Broadway star and 2013 Audie Award Winner) narrating for his third time a Walking Dead novel. With a slight drawl and some gravel in his tone, Berman sets a dark mood, and with his character voices he brings the listener to whatever state of mind of the characters might find themselves at that moment.

When given the option of this audio book or one other, I was excited to jump into The Walking Dead as I’m a fan of the TV series, but if you are in the same boat, you will find out that it doesn’t strictly (and I emphasize strictly) match up with the show. And it is much more gruesome. That can throw people off, and did me at times, but if you can accept that choices were made to make good TV, maybe you can see past the changes and appreciate the story that is told by the collaborative work of Kirkman, Bonansinga, and Berman. Once again I do warn that this is a violent story told and read in gruesome detail.

Those of you who decide to listen, I hope you start from the beginning, but part one of The Fall of the Governor is self-contained (albeit incomplete) giving enough of the back-story to satiate the listener. Happy listening!

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