Author: Joe Schreiber
Release Date: October 2009
Death Troopers is an EU novel that does not feel like an EU novel. Instead, it reads the way the novel was marketed, as a Star Wars/zombie mash up. It offers a stand alone story, something that is welcome to even the most enthusiastic fans. It is refreshing to have a Star Wars novel that does not have to concern itself with continuity. The novel, at under three hundred pages, is a quick read with great action scenes, scenes that are very different than what we’ve seen before in a Star Wars novel.
The story takes place shortly before A New Hope on an Imperial prison barge, Purge. The Purge is transporting criminals and Rebel sympathizers when it breaks down in isolated space. The crew is relieved when they run across an abandoned Star Destroyer. A party is sent over to recover parts and supplies to get the Purge running again. It is on the deserted Star Destroyer that members of the Purge encounter the zombie virus. Upon the party’s return the disease spreads and most of the Purge’s crew and inmates die quickly. Soon, though, they rise and the few survivors aboard the Purge are in for the fight of their lives.
Joe Schreiber does an excellent job of setting the mood and atmosphere of the story. The novel works well as both a horror novel and a Star Wars novel. It’s clear what we’re reading is a part of the Star Wars universe, yet it’s much different than what we’ve ever read in the EU. The EU is filled with a wide variety of Star Wars related stories, but there never a horror story. It is also nice having a novel in the EU that is not dependent on back story. A reader can make their way through Death Troopers with even the most minimal knowledge of Star Wars.
The novel does have its problems, and the major problem of Death Troopers is its lack of characterization. The main survivors on board the Purge are Trig and Kale Longo, two young brothers and prisoners, Zahara Cody, the medical doctor on the Purge, and Jareth Sartoris, the cruel captain of the guard. As fun as it is to see them interact with two fan favorites, who appear in the story, the survivors are never fully fleshed out. It would’ve been nice to have known more about them, so that the audience could relate to them more, and, in turn, care about them more. This problem can be attributed to the length of the book, though. At two hundred and seventy one pages it’s difficult to include both an action filled plot and strong characterization.
Death Troopers is not an essential read for fans, though it is a fun one. It is not an integral work but it does represent an interesting addition to the EU. It is an action packed and unique look into the Star Wars universe. It is a look at a familiar universe through a grotesque and odd kaleidoscope, and the result is an engaging novel. Death Troopers will appeal to the most casual fan and the most ardent fan.