My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Y’know how sometimes, even if you know the book is probably going to be mediocre at best and is even likely to outright suck, you kind of have to read it anyway? Death Troopers, a Star Wars novel by Joe Schreiber, was like that for me.
‘Cause, okay, yeah, Star Wars plus zombies.
I know, I know. But I’m still enough of a Star Wars fan, and definitely enough of a zombie fan, that I could not resist seeing how an author tried to get a zombie story into the Star Wars universe. Plus, given that I saw a spoiler about two of the main Star Wars characters getting grafted into this plot (and it will probably not be much of a stretch for anyone familiar with me to guess which characters would pull me in), well okay yeah fine I’m there.
Survey says: overall, meh. I had two main beefs with this story: one, that the aforementioned grafting of primary Star Wars characters into this plot had no real suspense to it, since you knew they were going to survive. The story’s set before A New Hope, so there wasn’t any doubt at all that these characters would make it. Two, that pretty much every other character is thinly sketched in at best. They’re all archetypes zombie fans have seen in countless stories elsewhere.
Although, that said, the two main characters grafted into the story are the exact right characters you’d want to graft in. And, I do have to give Schrieber props for making the one female in the plot, the prison ship’s doctor, halfway interesting.
Also, props have to be given for a reasonably creepy Star Wars-based zombie scenario. Our protagonists are on board a prison ship that comes across a seemingly abandoned Star Destroyer, which has gone adrift thanks to its crew being devastated by the unleashing of a potent virus that, of course, the Empire had been trying to develop as a weapon. A Star Destroyer IS pretty much perfect for a zombie scenario; it’s huge, and there are thousands of crewmembers at your disposal to turn into undead. Since this is Star Wars, you get the added amusement value of non-human zombies–and I must say, zombie Wookiees? Okay yeah. That’s disturbing. So are the moments with the doomed command staff of the Destroyer being discovered barricaded inside one of the shuttles, where they’ve been slowly starving to death.
And to be fair, I did actually like the ending. The Destroyer zombies start exhibiting creepier behavior (I shan’t specify what, because spoilers), and the surviving protagonists (well, aside from the aforementioned two main characters who we knew were going to survive anyway) go out on a respectably gritty note.
I gave this two stars originally, but I’m bumping up to three ’cause yeah, there was some decent creepiness here.