Monday, April 4, 2011

Shepherd492 reviews: Star Wars: Death Troopers

Star Wars: Death Troopers (Joe Schreiber)

Plot Summary
A prison barge loses power in deep space. Luckily there is a derelict Star Destroyer nearby to scavenge parts from. Unfortunately the salvage team comes back dying and infected from a mysterious disease. Before long the entire ship, minus six people, is contaminated. After freeing two maximum security prisoners, the group makes its way onto the Star Destroyer with the goal of escaping somehow. Unfortunately things are complicated by the hordes of hungry undead coming after them. The origins of these zombies is revealed to be a biological weapon in development by the Empire that ravaged the crew of the Star Destroyer minus a handful of men hiding out in a shuttle. The survivors attempt to disable the tractor beam and flee to safety before the hordes overwhelm them.

Plot Analysis
The plot was pretty weak, a tad on the predictable side (especially concerning the origin of the virus). The imperial officers in the shuttle seemed to serve little purpose besides being cannon fodder and dispensers of backstory. It also seemed really convenient that dead characters could always be noticed in a swarming horde of thousands of zombies as according to the book. This was surely done to ramp up the tension and create emotional conflict with the ones who encounter them, but I thought it was over done and not particularly useful. Finally, the book is extremely short, and ends in a rather rushed manner. I would've liked to see more tension in the finale as opposed to the rather rushed, predicable ending. With the manner that this book was written, the exposition could have also been shorter, most of it served no purpose after the outbreak started anyways. I would have also liked to have seen diverse effects on different species and perhaps even zombies with force powers. Yeah it sounds silly, but if you are going to make a Star Wars zombie book, you should try to make the zombies a bit more unique to the universe than the usual hive mind affair.

The characterization in this book is nearly nonexistent, and that's not necessarily a huge problem. We are introduced to several new characters in this book, and none of them really stand out. They are little more than stereotypical cannon fodder but, considering the genre of this novel, that isn't the problem that it usually would be in Star Wars. We get the bad guy who redeems himself, an overwhelmed doctor, and two prison kids with good intentions. Nothing stellar, but nothing so obnoxious that you actively wished for characters to die.

The author had two directions he could take this book, he could have made it a action packed gore fest, or something more akin to Alien that basks in suspense and tension. He goes the route of action packed gore fest, the deaths and creatures themselves are all explained in the goriest manner possible, and tension between the survivors is at an absolute minimum. He opts for a large army of shambling undead as opposed to a handful (or even just one) enhanced predator type. The author does attempt to build a small degree of suspense via frequent PoV shifts and chapter breaks when something happens to put our characters in danger, but this is undermined by the fact that two of the six heroes are major characters in the Star Wars universe, and therefore untouchable. Because of this, going with the gorefest was definitely the author's best move, and he certainly does do a good job with it, however I think a suspenseful novel filled with new characters would have been a more effective take on the horror genre in Star Wars.

Though a bit trite in today's zombie heavy culture, the book is entertaining enough in spite of it's flaws. Its formulaic but effective in parts where the author focuses less on the characters and more on the chaos surrounding them. It's a recommended read for anyone interested in zombies, and it is safe to say that most Star Wars fans will get at least some enjoyment out of it.

Final Score

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