I’ve read sixteen of these things now, so I think I’m ready to comment on the series as a whole.
This graphic novel series is about Rick Grimes – a police officer in a past life, but now simply trying to survive in a world overrun by the walking dead. Early on in the series, he is reunited with his wife and son, as well as a small group of survivors, and they travel around the Atlanta/Washington area trying to find a safe home.
There’s some good character development in the series. It’s not an easy thing to take a reader who feels reasonably safe and secure, and make them believe that someone is, if not justified, at least understandably turning into a monster. Rick’s progression is slow, and – at first – his increasingly unhinged decisions seem justified. And maybe they are in book 16 as well, but it’s sure clear enough that he’s lost that wide-eyed innocence that made him so compelling in the first few books of the series.
The plot is quite interesting. There are many twists and turns, and there’s no holding back on killing off main characters so there’s a real legitimate fear of main characters dying when things get hairy. Taking the survivors through a number of different locales keeps in interesting and allows us to see all the different ways that the people in Kirkman’s world have found to survive. There are some overly convenient bits – such as when the group is separated and then just happen to stumble on each other later on – but it’s easy enough to ignore.
The big issue with the series is the dialogue. It lacks flow, people say painfully artificial things (particularly the monologues, but this happens in conversation too), and the phrasing is very stilted. Some of the errors could be solved easily with an editor, but this seems to have been bypassed. The central theme of “humans are the real monsters” is spelled out over and over again, which is terribly unnecessary given that a) it’s an easy enough theme to convey through subtle means, and b) anyone familiar with the zombie genre is already going to be expecting it since wowzers, can anyone say “overdone”? I’m not really into graphic novels, but given that Kirkman’s only job is to write plot and dialogue, I’d expect him to do the latter much better.
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Other books in the Walking Dead series: