Title: The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury (The Walking Dead #2)
Author: Robert Kirkman, Jay Bonansinga
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date: October 16, 2012
Number of Pages: 286
The zombie plague unleashes its horrors on the suburbs of Atlanta without warning, pitting the living against the dead. Caught in the mass exodus, Lilly Caul struggles to survive in a series of ragtag encampments and improvised shelters. But the Walkers are multiplying. Dogged by their feral hunger for flesh and crippled by fear, Lilly relies on the protection of good Samaritans by seeking refuge in a walled-in town once known as Woodbury, Georgia.
At first, Woodbury seems like a perfect sanctuary. Squatters barter services for food, people have roofs over their heads, and the barricade expands, growing stronger every day. Best of all, a mysterious self-proclaimed leader named Philip Blake keeps the citizens in line. But Lilly begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. . . . Blake, who has recently begun to call himself The Governor, has disturbing ideas about law and order.
Ultimately, Lilly and a band of rebels open up a Pandora’s box of mayhem and destruction when they challenge The Governor’s reign . . . and the road to Woodbury becomes the highway to hell.
“I’d rather be a piece of work than a piece of shit.”
The Governor saga continues in The Road to Woodbury. We are introduced to a brand new protagonist, Lilly Caul, and her experience through the apocalypse that eventually leads her and her band of misfits to the town of Woodbury as it is being developed with a new chain of command. This book does an excellent job of providing some more background information as to how Woodbury became the dreaded town that it is and we see the after effects of the events from Rise of the Governor. The character of The Governor begins to take shape and become the more familiar villain Walking Dead fans know so well.
Sadly I found this book to be a bit underwhelming and I just didn’t like it nearly as much as the first in the series. The first book leaves off on a bit of a cliff hanger and by the time Lilly and company make their way to Woodbury, the cliff hanger in question is only briefly mentioned and the reader is never told exactly what happened. The particular event was later published in a short seven page novella that quite frankly feels a little bit like a cop out and hardly worth the price of admission.
For the characters I did not like most of the characters in the book nearly as much as the characters in the first. I honestly was not a very big fan of Lilly and Megan so I found it hard to really care about either one. Joshua was an alright character but he was one of the few. The appearance of Martinez and Stevens, who had both previously appeared in the comics, added some much needed color to the cast and I liked them a lot. It was great learning a little more about their characters and the difficult roles that they play in Woodbury.
Most of the book I spent sloshing through Lilly’s back story waiting for the story to really get around to the big clash. The book definitely picks up pace near the end and the last page left me breathless. It is certainly one of the more memorable and climatic endings to a book I’ve ever read that sets up a wonderful revenge plot for the rest of the series. This book just suffers the unfortunate circumstance of being that “in between” book in a series where it’s all just build up for another book.
On the technical writing side, I had one issue with the way characters were described. In the first book, a particular female character was described as having “dishwater blonde” hair by Philip Blake. Before these books I had honestly never heard of this term for hair color but rolled with it. In The Road to Woodbury at several points in the story two separate female characters were described as having “dishwater” attributes by different narrators. One had “dishwater blonde” hair and the other had “dishwater green” eyes. It sort of broke the atmosphere for me, since it made narration by different characters too similar. Although dishwater is a sort of gritty or dirty sounding adjective that fits with the story, a little more variety would be nice.
Strengths: Decent build up book, great ending
Weaknesses: Lilly is not the most interesting heroine, needs more adjective variety when describing female characters
Warnings: Language, violence