Saturday, July 20, 2013

Home, The Walking Dead, and Halo

Matthew Costello
Dunne, $25.99
ISBN: 9781250012739

After the assault by the feral cannibalistic Can Heads left his Brooklyn police bat partner dead and him injured, NYPD police officer Jack Murphy, accompanied by his wife Christie and their two kids (Kate and Simon) go on Vacation to the Upstate fortified Paterville Family Camp. There he and his family eat old fashion real food, drink pure water, and have fun until he sacrifices himself to keep his beloved family safe (see Vacation).

Christie, Kate and Simon are shocked by what happened to their dad, but have no time to grieve if Jack’s last actions are to be meaningful. They barely escape from the Paterville Family Camp, but fear there is no sanctuary anywhere in a world gone mad. Still, the trio struggles to survive from the nightmares they know exist and even more horrid beasts they will soon learn exist.

The second Murphy family post-apocalyptic horror tale is a gripping survivor thriller as three innocents struggle to stay alive. Their ordeal is fast-paced but at times lacks vividness due to the frantic speed of the plot. Still readers will want to travel the road with the Murphy family who believe in Schwartz’s Law as their namesake’s law proves too optimistic. Harriet Klausner

The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury
Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga
Dunne, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312547745

In what was the Atlanta metropolitan area, the zombie plague continues to spread unabated. Those still human struggle to survive against The Walking Dead taking shelter wherever they can find temporary safety; these spots are dwindling. Frightened Lilly Caul seeks sanctuary as she flees from the undead horde, but rarely finds it and when she does it is temporary as the abominations never rest in their endless quest for live flesh.

Lily reaches the fortified town of Woodbury, Georgia; a haven for squatters to barter in relatively safety from the Walking Dead. In a previous life, he was known as Philip Blake, but now he is the Governor of Woodbury. After feeling safe for the first time since the plague began, Lily has a new fear as she observes how the Governor and his law enforcement rule the city with an iron fist. She and others rebel against his tyranny as Woodbury implodes from within.

The sequel to the Rise of the Governor is an exciting horror thriller based on the Benjamin Franklin premise that “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” Fast-paced, fans will enjoy this entry though they also will wonder how traumatized scared of shadows Lily suddenly turns into a ferocious freedom fighter. Harriet Klausner

Halo: The Thursday War
Karen Traviss
Tor, $15.99
ISBN: 9780765323941

In 2553, the Unified Earth’s Office of Naval Intelligence assigns psyops unit Kilo-Five to occupy the Sangheili Covenant by causing internal troubles so that the enemy loses sight of what earth is doing to insure their permanent defeat. To accomplish their mission, the black-ops squad first must prevent the Covenant’s former military leaders the Elites from regaining control and second foster a civil war.

On recently liberated Onyx, the ONI interrogates captured Elite Jun Mdama who has his own plans for the human enemies. Meanwhile all is going well in Sangheili until Captain Serine Osman reports back to headquarters in Sydney that she lost contact with her Sangheili language and cultural awareness expert Professor Evan Phillips. Besides never leaving behind anyone and in this case his knowledge is too valuable to ignore, Osman knows she needs to mount an extraction from Sangheili unaware the professor is knee deep in Forerunner technology.

This is an exciting fresh spin to the Halo universe as the second post-war military science fiction (see Glasslands) occurs after Halo 3 has several key players fascinatingly looking back at the moral decisions they made especially with deployment of the Spartans during the hostilities. The other major subplot is a deep look at the enemy’s civil war. Fans of the game will enjoy this tale though will need to adjust to the relatively minor role of the Spartans as they were created for war, so with a tentative peace their action is much less than it has been. Harriet Klausner

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