When the Imperial prison barge Purge — temporary home to five hundred of the galaxy’s most ruthless killers, rebels, scoundrels and thieves — breaks down in a distant, uninhabited part of space, its only hope seems to lie with a Star Destroyer found drifting, derelict and seemingly abandoned. But when a boarding party is sent to scavenge for parts, only half of them come back — bringing with them a horrific disease so lethal that within hours, nearly all aboard the Purge will die in ways too hideous to imagine.
And death is only the beginning.
The Purge’s half-dozen survivors — two teenage brothers, a sadistic captain of the guards, a couple of rogue smugglers and the chief medical officer, the lone woman on board — will do whatever it takes to stay alive. But nothing can prepare them for what lies waiting onboard the Star Destroyer amid its vast creaking emptiness that isn’t really empty at all. The dead are rising, soulless, unstoppable, and unspeakably hungry.
When I saw the cover for Death Troopers earlier in the year I knew this was a book that I had to read. There was something about a darker Star Wars novel that piqued my interest even though I’ve never read anything in the expanded universe before. I expected good things from Death Troopers, but as a newbie to Star Wars novels I wasn’t entirely sure whether these expectations would be justified. I’ll say one thing about Death Troopers – Joe Schreiber knows how to write an exciting, atmospheric and entertaining read, but I’m not sure it’s suited to the Star Wars setting…
With the prison barge Purge as the setting we are introduced to a few characters that will take us through Death Troopers. The main ones of these are Trig and Kale Longo, the ships doctor Zahara Cody and the chief of the prison guards, Jareth Sartoris. Each of these has a good section devoted to building their characters and as such they have a good depth to them that allows us to enjoy the story told through their eyes. We also have a couple of more familiar characters that simply steal the story once we meet them, which is a bit of a shame because it would have been great to continue the story without these additions to the cast.
The story itself is more than satisfying and has an effective build up that includes some damned creepy moments before everything hits the fan. The build up is especially good as it not only introduces the characters, but also sets the scene and atmosphere on both the Purge and Star Destroyer. Once we get past the set up we are firmly in zombie territory, and while the fan boy in me loves this sort of thing, I can’t help but think it turns into a run-of-the-mill escape the zombies scenario. It’s still a well written and entertaining story though!
I’m also not entirely sure it suits the Star Wars setting. This, as far as I know, is unlike anything else in the Star Wars universe and it feels a little wrong. There are many things I can believe would happen in this setting, but Death Troopers pushes the envelope too far. But, and this is an important but, I enjoyed Death Troopers so much I’m willing to put this gripe aside. Shallow, I know, but when you read something you enjoy this much you do give more ground than normal.
So on the whole I would recommend Death Troopers to any sci-fi and zombie fans that want a good and entertaining read. It’s not perfect, but the issues I think Death Troopers has can be overlooked for sheer enjoyment factor. Definitely one to read!