Science fiction and fantasy                                            



The Walking Dead: Miles Behind Us

by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn

cover  

In the second volume of The Walking Dead series Rick Grimes' small band of survivors are on the move. It's winter, so food is scarce and they urgently need to find a place of safety to keep out the ravening hordes of zombies. Whenever they find somewhere that looks likely, they always need to be on the alert for hidden horrors.

This is a story of survival, but the terror of running from zombies and having to fight for their lives is intermittent. More often, the focus is on how the survivors are coping with loss, and what they need to do to adjust to a world where they must do awful things just to survive. This is brought out especially vividly when they meet Hershel, the medic, who has a pretty grim secret in his barn. The group also picks up a few new recruits who they rescue off the road: Tyreese, Julie, and Chris. Like many characters, they're traumatised by what has happened to them.

Life has become precarious for the survivors, and so the pace of living has changed. People are less willing to wait around for good things to happen. They are more inclined to seize opportunities for love, because they know anyone could die at any time. As in the first volume, this is a story with a high body count and a fair smattering of gore.

However, I think Miles Behind Us is better than Days Gone Bye because it goes beyond the hackneyed premise of a zombie apocalypse scare story, and starts to dig into the nitty-gritty of how people react to an extreme situation. The narrative delves into different coping strategies, some of which are more useful than others. I thought the range of reactions that the characters displayed was well thought-out and believable. There are a few simmering situations that seem likely to explode into serious conflicts in later books.

In Miles Behind Us, we have a lot of decent, ordinary characters placed in unbearable circumstances. Because the story focuses on their reactions it's more compelling than if this were another gory attempt to drum up frights (although this aspect is undeniably present). With this volume, the series is just beginning to get interesting.

12th August 2013

Book Details

Year: 2004

Categories: Books

  Horror
 
  Bleak
  Male Protagonist  
  Not For The Squeamish  

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4 star rating

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