Let's get this out of the way first off, while I am definitely a Star Wars fan, I haven't read anything from the Expanded Universe since reading the Thrawn Trilogy back in High School/College. I always thought the EU was way too bogged down in "cannon" and when I tried picking up one or two of the novels a few months ago, they were darn near impenetrable. Anyway, seeing as how Halloween was coming up, I was in the market for scary things, movies, books, comics, what have you. So when I heard the elevator pitch of "Star Wars with Zombies", I was sold, or rather, whatever the equivalent term is for getting it at the library.
Star Wars: Death Troopers is exactly what you would expect from a mash up of Star Wars and zombie movies. In fact, it is everything you would expect. Take the following factors: a damaged prison ship/bus/space ship, an abandoned island/town/bigger space ship, and the usual motley group of well-meaning and cruel prisoners/guards, throw in zombies and you have the story right there. Hell, you've seen this movie, both on the big screen and probably six or eight times on TV if you enjoy SyFy Saturday original movies (like me!). But though the story is as familiar as any zombie story is, doesn't mean it's bad. It's a well done piece of work, taking the same old tropes and working in familiar settings and characters (whose identities are supposed to be secret since they are not featured on the book cover and don't appear until half-way through) of the Star Wars Universe.
The setting is, the deep-space, imperial prison barge Purge has come up lame somewhere outside of normal shipping lanes, finding an abandoned Star Destroyer, a party is sent aboard to scavenge for parts that may help them get underway. Unfortunately, the away team brings back more than parts. Suddenly it's up to a corrupt guard, a plucky Imperial doctor, two teenage prisoners and a pair of "rogue smugglers"* to get out alive.
the familiar tropes of the zombie genre are trotted out efficiently and done well. though there are a few twists added into the methodology of the zombies, it's nothing Earth-shattering. You get the horror of what is going on and the carnage is certainly not made more family-friendly since this is a Star Wars book. If made into a movie, this would definitely be "R" rated (though there are no boobs or swears, so you never know). At least suspension of disbelief is made easier since you can assume that George Romero movies have not made it out to the Outer Rim, so you don't have to wonder how stupid the characters are not to know to shoot them in the damn head.
It's a solid book, if you want a Star Wars zombie book, you can't go wrong here, but if you want anything more than simply that, you'll have to hope for a sequel.
*Three guesses as to who they are.
Star Wars: Death Troopers
Written by: Joe Schreiber