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Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber
Cover Artist: Indika
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
LucasBooks Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345509628
Date: 13 October 2009 List Price $24.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The evil Empire has arrested Han Solo and Chewbacca for smuggling and thrown them into solitary confinement on board the prison space barge Purge. The thrusters break down and the Purge is stranded. Nearby, an Imperial Star Destroyer is floating dead in space. All 10,000 crew members appear to have vanished. A party of engineers, guards and stormtroopers enter the derelict to salvage parts. When they return to the Purge, they are infected with a deadly virus that kills all but a handful of the 522 prisoners and crew. Soon the dead are reanimated as ravenous, flesh-eating zombies. Han Solo, Chewbacca, a gorgeous female doctor, two teenage brothers and a captain of the Imperial guard must battle the zombies and other survivors in order to escape this nightmare in space.

Fans of zombie horror must read Joe Schreiber's Death Troopers. Having devoured his ultra-creepy haunted house novel, No Doors, No Windows, I knew I had to read this unique blend of science fiction, action adventure and horror. This is the first Star Wars novel I've read and I was slightly deterred because I'm not a die hard fan. However, watching the six Star Wars films provided me with enough background for understanding the characters and setting.

Han Solo and Chewbacca are lovable characters whom everyone admires. It is easy to imagine these friends in a situation where they are battling zombies on board an Imperial Star Destroyer. Death Troopers chronicles another one of their exciting adventures before they meet Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. In the novel, Han's words and actions are in keeping with his strong, but sensitive, screen image. The two brothers, Trig and Kale Longo, are endearing characters whose athletic prowess reminded me of that possessed by Luke Skywalker. Their father, a prisoner, was murdered by the cruel, ambitious Jareth Sartoris, captain of the Imperial guard. Sartoris represents the evilness of Darth Vader. Like Darth Vader, he experiences a character transformation; towards the end of the novel, he becomes repentant. The strong, independent Dr. Zahara Cody is a substitute for the lovely Princess Leia. She develops a brotherly bond with Trig, the younger and more Luke-like of the Longo brothers.

The isolation and horror of deep space can be clearly felt in Death Troopers. I kept repeating the tag line for the classic film Alien: In space no one can hear you scream. The plot for Death Troopers reminded me much of my beloved Resident Evil series where an experimental virus for military applications is released inside a lab; those who are infected soon die and are reanimated as flesh eating zombies.

Readers should be forewarned that Death Troopers contains a tremendous amount of graphic violence and gore. It is not for the squeamish. The most disgusting scene is when thirteen-year-old Trig must climb a pile of rotting, dismembered corpses in order to reach the safety of a ventilation shaft. If made into a film, Death Troopers would be best directed by George Romero who brought us the classic Night of the Living Dead and all its many sequels and remakes. Perhaps Death Troopers is more suited for becoming an animated horror film such as Dead Space: Downfall, which also involves space crew turning into hideous monsters.

Death Troopers is highly recommended for fans of science fiction horror. After reading this novel, Star Wars aficionados will have more reasons for hating the Nazi-like Empire. Whether its derelict space ships, haunted houses, or supernatural serial killers, Joe Schreiber knows how to frighten us.

Schreiber works as a hospital MRI technician and writes in his spare time. His other novels include No Doors, No Windows; Chasing the Dead; and Eat the Dark. He has recently written The Unholy Cause, a novel for the hit television series Supernatural. It is scheduled to be published in April of 2010.

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