Before we begin, I have to make a quick plug for the Walking Dead series on AMC (http://www.amctv.com/originals/The-Walking-Dead/). If you are a fan of the books, a fan of zombies or a fan of post apocolypic stories you need to be watching this show. I can’t stress that enough. Watch. The. Show. Okay, enough plugging. On to reviewing!
If you’ve made it to volume 13 of The Walking Dead you’re already familiar with former lawman, Rick Grimes and his ragged band of survivors. In the previous book our group found and joined in a large, walled-in community run by a former Congressman. The compound is secure, stable and well stocked, but Rick is unwilling to let his guard down, even for a moment.
Character development has been one of The Walking Dead’s strengths and this volume is an excellent example of how Kirkman is using a fantastical setting to explore very real facets of human nature. By this point in the series killing zombies is no longer strange or particularly frightening. It’s the struggle to survive, physically and psychologically that is taking a toll on the characters. In volume 13 Kirkman gives us a slight break in the action and allows us to watch the characters adapt to “normal” life. Their actions raise interesting questions. If Rick is unwilling to relax in a safe place, is he a vigilant leader or is he suffering from post traumatic syndrome? All of the characters have adapted in order to survive, but what have they become in the process?
We can take another step back and ask what has the reader become in the process of reading The Walking Dead. When our characters encounter new groups do we assume the worst or hope for the best? Are we turning the pages hoping for another gory death or rooting for characters to survive? The Walking Dead utilizes the ongoing series format to its fullest, taking advantage of the time we’ve invested the characters and story to pose serious questions about human nature. That’s quite an accomplishment!