Star Wars: Death Troopers (2010)… The Zombies Awaken!!

Well, I couldn’t leave well enough alone.  After reading the zombie-STAR TREK convention mash-up NIGHT OF THE LIVING TREKKIES, and loving it (see review here) I had to try out the STAR WARS-zombie mash-up DEATH TROOPERS.  DEATH TROOPERS is written in a very different style than TREKKIES but is still a really fun read that has a few surprises.

DEATH TROOPERS, which takes places about 19 years before STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE, opens up on the Purge, an Imperial prison barge that is transporting 500 of the galaxy’s most cutthroat killers, thieves, and rebels.  But among the true scum of the galaxy are also Trig Longo (a 13 year old human boy) and his older brother Kale.  They seem to be on the Purge simply because they defied the Empire.  Also in the mix is Jareth Sartoris, a burned-out, violent captain of the guards aboard the Purge who may have had something to do with the death of Trig and Kale’s dad, Von Longo; Zahara Cody, the human female chief medical officer of the Purge; and Aur Myss, a Delphanian prisoner who’s taken out a bounty on the Longo brothers’ heads.

Author Joe Schreiber embraces both the STAR WARS & zombie genres!!

After meeting the primary cast of characters and getting to know a little about their backstories, author Joe Schreiber then sets the stage for the zombie mayhem.  On the way to a penal planet the Purge experiences engine failure and breaks down about seven days away from their destination.  But lucky (ah-hem) for them there’s a nearby broken down Star Destroyer.  So they float over to it, hook up to it, and get together a search team to try and find the parts aboard the Star Destroyer to repair their engine.  Needless to say the search team (made up of two teams of ten people) doesn’t fair well and most don’t even come back alive (nor totally dead).  On board the Star Destroyer they’re exposed to some kind of infection that quickly spreads throughout the Purge and  causes death within hours.  Unfortunately the “death” part of the infection/virus isn’t permanent.  Those killed from the exposure wake up as extremely hungry and rather pissed off zombies.

Schreiber’s writing style is quick and he keeps the action moving along at a nice pace.  He takes about the first 50 pages to set the stage before giving us the zombie mayhem, and once the zombies appear he gives us lots of them.  The one thing I was worried about never happened:  I’m a fan of the STAR WARS films and I have a decent knowledge of the mythos and history developed in the six films.  But I’ve never read any of the STAR WARS novels (there’s a TON of them) and was afraid I’d be lost within the context of the universe created in the novels.  But luckily Schreiber foresaw that writing a zombie mash-up would attract more than just the regular STAR WARS geek (I say this affectionately).  He realized DEATH TROOPERS would also attract a lot of zombie geeks (guilty as charged).  Schreiber keeps the STAR WARS mythos pretty basic and even makes more than a couple references to Darth Vadar and his continual rise to power.  There’s also two surprise prisoners in the bowels of the Purge that everyone will recognize and they end up playing a huge part in the plot.

Schreiber also does a nice job when it comes times to describing zombie violence and carnage.  Schreiber has a knack for writing some juicy scenes:

From a distance the pink things looked like an unlikely hybrid of flowers, peeled fruit, and some species of embryonic winged animal whose like he’d never seen–they resembled a flock of tiny, skinned angels.

Some Death Troopers at a STAR WARS convention.

Throw in a mountain made out of decaying, festering human body parts (called “Skin Hill”) that a few of our characters have to climb up in order to save themselves and you have yourself some truly disgusting moments.

As for the zombies themselves they are a blend of the traditional zombie with a little more intelligence added to them.  These zombies have the capacity to learn and use various tools and weapons, which makes them very threatening.  As the novel moves along our characters find themselves in many life-threatening situations and cliff hangers, yet I never really felt that worried about any of the main players dying.  There’s a lot of death in DEATH TROOPERS, don’t get me wrong, but you just never really fear for the main characters (especially the two surprise characters I mentioned above).  But besides not having a lot of built-up tension, DEATH TROOPERS is still a really fun zombie novel set against the backdrop of the STAR WARS universe.

Damn Star Destroyers; among everything else they could cause the death of the galaxy!!

Schreiber also keeps us guessing as to the cause of the zombie outbreak.  Was is some random virus the Star Destroyer picked up in some remote corner of the galaxy, or was it an Imperial biological experiment gone awry (or maybe a combo of the two)?  He keeps us guessing until the final pages.  The ending does seem to come rather suddenly.  It seemed as though Schreiber was setting up a huge battle between the escaping zombies and the remaining humans, but then he seems to quickly change his mind and the book just suddenly ends.

Overall, DEATH TROOPERS is a solid, fun, and fast read that will have you geeking out over combining the zombie genre with the STAR WARS universe.  And if DEATH TROOPERS hooked you, have no fear; Schreiber has already written and released another novel, RED HARVEST, that further explores the zombie menace in the STAR WARS universe.  Check out DEATH TROOPERS; pretty fun stuff.

My Summary:

Author:  Joe Schreiber

Plot:  3 out of 5 stars

Zombie Mayhem:  6.5 out of 10 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

Comments
17 Responses to “Star Wars: Death Troopers (2010)… The Zombies Awaken!!”
  1. You’ve been reviewing a lot of zombie books lately! I just read Ex-Heroes, a superhero/zombie book, and I thought of you. You’d probably like it. You might think they’d go the route of Marvel Zombies, but it’s as much a survival narrative as most other zombie books, but with super powered shenanigans and honest to goodness well-developed characters. It even had a few twists that I didn’t see coming, which is rare in any fiction.

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  2. Alejandro Gomez Tamez says:

    Great book review Scott! I have been a Star Wars fan since I can remember. This book seems very interesting to read. I wander who those two surprise characters that you mention are. I hope I can get a copy of that book next month when I go to San Antonio, TX.

    I also want to tell you that your zombie “A New Hope” picture is great!

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    • Thanks Alejandro!! What’s bringing you to San Antonio? Are you making it over to Austin as well (where I live)? If you do we should meet for lunch or something. I bet we could have some great film discussions!!

      And by the way, I finally got to see A SERBIAN FILM (uncut). I’m still putting my thoughts together on it but should have a review of it posted pretty soon.

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      • Alejandro Gomez Tamez says:

        Hello again Scott! Every year my family and I go to San Antonio for vacation and to do some shopping. We´ve never gone to Austin, although I know it is very beautiful and is near San Antonio. It would be cool to meet you. I will let you know if we go all the way up there.

        What is the difference between the “regular” and the “uncut” version of A Serbian Film? That movie made me so sad after finishing watching it…. It is a great movie, but it made me feel like shit… That movie caused a bigger impact on me than any other film of its type that I have ever seen.

        I will be looking forward for your movie review! It is always good to read your reviews because they help me understand the movie psychology much better (after all you have a PhD!)

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      • I’m guessing here but I imagine the difference between the cut and uncut versions of A SERBIAN FILM would be how much of the graphic imagery they showed. The uncut version I saw was pretty brutal. The camera witnessed everything with an unflinching eye. Feeling sad after that film is an understatement!! It’s a very rough viewing experience.

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  3. l3pr3chaun says:

    This has some real appeal to it. I am now intrigued. Love Star Wars & Zombies, so why not!

    Like

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  1. […] mash-ups like SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE FLYING ZOMBIE DEATH MONKEYS, the Star Wars zombie novel DEATH TROOPERS, and NIGHT OF THE LIVING TREKKIES, in which there’s a zombie outbreak at a Star Trek […]

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  2. […] This was a fun, gory book that delivered on both the zombie mayhem and on the STAR WARS mythos (see my complete review here). Then in 2012, Schreiber followed up DEATH TROOPERS with another, more ambitious zombie tale […]

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