Death Troopers

December 19, 2017 at 7:00 pm (Reads) (, , , )

troopersDeath Troopers by Joe Schreiber

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I’ve given Schreiber a hard time in the past. It’s not that I don’t think he’s deserving of it (don’t forget that in Chasing the Dead, he had his protagonist attacked by giant lobsters in her car), but while reading Death Troopers I realized that he’s a pretty good writer. He doesn’t fall into the trap that some authors use, where they tell us what a character is feeling; instead he describes what they’re feeling, and pretty accurately. He’s a good storyteller, too, which is pretty necessary when you write a zombie novel set in the Star Wars universe. This was apparently a big issue for the hardcore Star Wars fans, but I thought it was a fun read.

Schreiber populates his novel with the right kinds of characters for a zombie story — those who doubt and those who accept, those who take advantage of the situation, and those who turn out to be heroes, and those who sacrifice themselves for the rest of the group — but the progression from doubting to accepting is pretty fast. Also, near the end of the novel, one of the antagonists has a change of heart, which was unexpected, which would have been fine, except it remains unexplained. Why have a character turn around and save characters he was forcing out of escape pods 150 pages earlier? I don’t mean that rhetorically, either: Why? That explanation was completely missing from the story.

Speaking of sections of the story that make you ask “Why?”, there’s the fact that Han Solo and Chewbacca show up halfway through the story. It feels too much like fan service over storytelling, especially when this is supposed to have happened close to the events that put the two characters on Tatooine in Star Wars. They don’t even have the Millennium Falcon with them at the time of the story, since the book takes place in a prison ship.

Still, I had a fun time reading the book, but I didn’t expect it to be a groundbreaking novel, either. Fans of horror should love it (two of the tertiary characters are named Phibes and Quatermass, so there’s a lot there for the fans to discover), though they may want to start with Red Harvest. That book follows Death Troopers in publication order, but it also lays the groundwork for what creates the zombies. They make a decent duology, but I can see why people looking for traditional Star Wars stories don’t like them.

Started: September 15, 2017
Finished: September 16, 2017

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