Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber

8/10 Schreiber shows with Death Troopers that traditional sci-fi/fantasy limitations need not apply.

Death Troopers is a horror based Star Wars novel written by Joe Schreiber and published Del Rey. While the idea of horror based Star Wars may not appeal to everyone, the thought of zombie storm troopers hunting down Rebel scum just seems to resonate with my inner geek. Putting the fanboy bias aside, this is a well thought out story that does a good job of bringing the undead into the Star Wars universe without coming off as cheesy or contrived.

The story is set just prior to the events from "A New Hope" and follows the crew of an Imperial prison barge who become stranded when the barge breaks down on route to a prison colony. As they drift through empty space, they come across a derelict Star Destroyer from which they hope to salvage enough parts to repair the barge. A boarding party is sent to retrieve the parts from the Star Destroyer but when they come back they bring with them a deadly virus that kills the living and reanimates the dead. For the half dozen survivors immune to the virus, they quickly become locked in a desperate fight for survival against hordes of undead looking for fresh meat to eat.

Death Troopers is not the type of story that is going to grip you with fear like some other horror stories, however, there is a nice balance between the action and suspense sequences that can really keep you on edge. The pacing and the dialogue feel quite natural and really help to build and maintain the suspense for most of the book. That said, the writing contains some pretty big flaws with Schreiber guilty of using a lot of language that I feel does not belong in the Star Wars universe (for instance "ditto"), and of using way to much Star Wars imagery which often adds very little to the story while simultaneously killing the suspense for me. Yeah, I get it, this is a Star Wars book, but you don't need to keep on reminding me of that fact every couple of pages.

The Star Wars universe offers rich source of material for any author willing to use it, and Schreiber has shown with Death Troopers that you do not need to be limited to the traditional Sci-Fi / Fantasy guidelines in order to make a Star Wars novel really work. While there are some big flaws, they are for the most part cosmetic and are overshadowed by some brilliant action scenes towards the end of the book. While this is a must read for all Star Wars fans, it can also be enjoyable for anyone who likes their horror set to moderate.


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