Thursday, July 8, 2010

Star Wars and Zombies: "I've got a bad feeling about this."

Well, I finished Death Troopers and have to say that zombies should have stayed out of the Star Wars universe. Or at least found a writer that didn't seem to be cashing in on a current trend.

The basic plot is a prison ship, on it's way to a penal colony, looses power and decides to raid an abandoned Star Destroyer for parts. Of course, they bring back a disease that kills 99% of the crew, only to reanimate them with a powerful hunger for flesh. The survivors (including a space pirate and his hairy first mate) take refuge on the Star Destroyer and discover the ship isn't as abandoned as once suspected.

This book is rather pedestrian and uninspired. The plot is poorly paced, as the zombies don't start showing up until midway through the book. Instead, the author wastes time on dull, overly long character development that feels a bit pointless, as the new main characters are not very memorable. And the teenage brothers feel written into the story for demographic reasons alone.

The zombies show some potential, as the disease allows the author to tailor the creatures to the Star Wars Universe. These suckers are rather fast, able to communicate and slowly retain the skills they learned while alive. In short, the longer they are undead, the better they are able to use blasters and, eventually, pilot ships. And we are treated to a brief encounter with a group of zombie Wookies, which is pretty cool. Unfortunately, this is one of the few times the author puts the Star Wars setting to good use.

I could overlook the shortcomings of this book if it didn't feel like a simplistic attempt to cash in on the current zombie craze. The few gruesome scenes of zombie action don't add anything to the story, other than the required "ick" moment. And, as I mentioned earlier, the author doesn't use the Star Wars universe to any advantage. It all feels like an hollow exercise in marketing, hammered home by the ad at the back of the book (after the preview to another Star Wars novel) offering you the chance to continue fighting the zombie horde in the Star Wars online game.

And the author didn't bother to put a Jedi Knight on either ship!!! He blew a great opportunity for a zombie horde vs. Jedi with a Light Saber scene. Blasters are basically space shotguns and not too exciting as most everyone, including the zombies, end up armed at some point. The story needed someone like Yoda, bouncing off the walls in a blur of glowing death, making mincemeat out of a crowd of zombies. Or a zombie Jedi, slowly relearning how to use a Light Saber to block blaster fire. Too bad the author dropped the ball on this one.

Might be worth a read if you find it at your local library or at a used book store. But I'd recommend avoiding it and searching out better zombie (and Star Wars) novels. It's books like these that will lead to the death of the undead (for a while).

Next up: Zombies and comics.