“Star Wars: Death Troopers” by Joe Schreiber (LucasBooks, 2009)

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All good horror novels have a foundation using a familiar horror trope, whether it be zombies, vampires, deepest darkest space, or creepy children.  The really great horror novels employ multiple tropes to become terrifying, page-turning nightmares that the reader simply can’t put down.  Star Wars: Death Troopers is one of those horror novels.

The Imperial Prison Barge Purge is on its way through deep space to a distant and forgotten moon to deposit its cargo of five hundred of the galaxy’s most ruthless prisoners, as well as two teenage brothers who are there on a nonexistent charge.  Everything is going as expected, or at least as expected as can be for Trig and Kale Longo trying their best to stay alive and wondering how their lives have come to this, until the Purge experiences engine trouble.  Fortunately there is a Star Destroyer nearby that is a derelict, abandoned.  Two teams are sent onto the destroyer with a couple of engineers to raid it for engine parts.  They return coughing and getting sicker by the second.  Zahara Cody, chief medical officer, scrambles to do what she can, but the sickness gets worse and people begin dying.  The virus spreads throughout the barge and soon bodies are dropping everywhere.  All that remain are the few people who are somehow immune: Trig and Kale, and Zahara to name a few.  Zahara also discovers two familiar characters locked up deep within the bowels of the ship in solitary confinement.

Then all the bodies come to life.  And these zombies are smarter than any we’ve seen before; they adapt to each situation, always looking to kill and conquer, always in search of fresh meat.

Joe Schreiber’s Star Wars: Death Troopers employs a number of great horror tropes that all combine to form one great novel which will have readers hooked from start to finish.  He manages the plot well, with riveting cliffhanger chapters, and makes it impossible to put down, while slowly dishing out the details so that full understanding and realization is not reached until the last few pages.  But these are all important facets of a great horror novel.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on October 13th, 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Joe Schreiber check out BookBanter Episode 18.

“Infected” by Scott Sigler (Crown, 2008)


Scott Sigler is a special, new kind of writer to join the publishing world; one might even call him an author of the twenty-first century.  He wanted to bring his work to the people of the world, for free.  He began on March, 2005, by podcasting his book Earthcore a bit at a time, with continuous updates.  Earthcore was branded as “the world’s first podcast-only novel,” and Sigler started off with three listeners; at the end he had over ten thousand subscribers.  He followed this with Ancestor, Infection, and The Rookie, and currently has over thirty thousands subscribers.  And now, with a big name publisher, Sigler brings Infected to the people of the world in book form (a free version is also available on podcast).

In Infected, something is seriously wrong with the world.  Something is making people crazy, crazy to the point where they are driven to kill others, their family, and then to horribly mutilate themselves, finally taking their own lives.  The government is trying its best to keep this whole thing a secret, and at the same time trying to find out what’s making people do this and find a solution as fast as possible.  CDC is working non-stop, the big problem is once they get to one of the bodies of these “special” people, the rate of decomposition is so rapid that they don’t have enough time to perform autopsies and fully examine the bodies before they are left with nothing more than a black murky puddle.

Sigler has done his research, giving the novel a classic Michael Crichton feel, going into the science and the biology as members of the CDC try to find out what sort of “infection” is making people kill others, and more importantly how contagious it is.  While there is a lot of “head jumping” from various characters that can leave the reader a little disoriented, and the writing at times seems to need some editing, with the flow being disjointed; Sigler clearly has a unique voice in Infected that will only get better with successive books.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on March 29th, 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.