Death Troopers, by Joe Schreiber

Joe Schreiber’s Death Troopers [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] was presented to me as “Star Wars with zombies.” And now you know everything you need to know to decide whether or not to read this one.

It’s a fairly standard zombie story. The Imperial prison barge Purge encounters an abandoned Star Destroyer. They investigate, return to the Purge, and then a mysterious illness begins killing both the crew and the inmates. Will our handful of survivors manage to escape the uprising?

There are references to Darth Vader, but the only familiar characters were the “two smugglers” who had been conveniently isolated in solitary confinement, and thus didn’t get infected right away.

There were a few points where I struggled with suspension of disbelief. (Yeah, I know. Star Wars and zombies. But still…) The one that comes to mind was the behavior of the zombie-goop when the doctor (the only female character, I believe) was trying to prevent another character from becoming infected. I got stuck on, “Wait, how exactly is that supposed to work?”

There are moments of genuine horror — the wookiee scene in particular, and Chewbacca’s reaction. For the most part though, I didn’t feel like I was reading anything new. I was left asking myself, “Why was this a story that needed to be told in the Star Wars universe?”

Schreiber has written another zombie Star Wars book, Red Harvest, which introduces a Jedi and a Sith Lord into a zombie story. I suspect that one could do a better job of bringing the Star Wars universe and mythology into things. How does the force affect the walking dead, and vice versa? What’s the impact on the larger political struggles we’re familiar with?

I have absolutely nothing against trying to write something popular, and zombies have been hot for a while now. The fact that Shreiber wrote a second of these books suggests that Death Troopers sold well, and I’m always happy to see a fellow Michigan author succeed.

Personally though, I wanted to see something new, something that managed to feel like both Star Wars and zombies. For me, it accomplished the latter, but failed to do the former.

I mean, if you’re going to do this, you’ve got to include at least one zombie Ewok trudging along, groaning “Nuuuub… nuuuuubbbb.”