A Book Spy Review: ‘Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead: Return to Woodbury’ by Jay Bonansinga

Walking dead

Lilly Caul is the star of the eighth novel in Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead spin-off series, Return to Woodbury, a huge leap up from last year’s Search and Destroy.

Last year, fans were underwhelmed with Jay Bonansinga’s seventh entry in The Walking Dead franchise. This time around, the author comes back with a strong new story about Lilly Caul and her quest to return back to the little village she once called home, Woodbury.

When readers catch up with Lilly, she’s living in Atlanta with another group of survivors in a massive former Ikea store that’s become a safe haven for those just trying to survive the apocalypse. Her living situation, once you get past the constant threat of zombies, isn’t too bad. With mahogany-lined corridors, plush, oversized pillows, and beds covered with sheets boasting an impressive 1000-thread count, things could be worse.

A different person than she was years prior, Lilly is a now a hardened, pistol-packing woman who’s willing kill zombies or anyone else threatening her, her way of life, or her friends. She’s done unthinkable things to survive, things she never dreamed of doing, and has come out on the other side a fire-tested warrior.

And now, that warrior is ready to go home.

After others agree to make the journey with her, Lilly and her gang of believers head for the Georgia farmlands, where she leads them directly into one of the largest gatherings of walkers in existence.

Riding in a motorcade that includes four modified horse-wagons, an Escalade with a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on the cargo deck, and several vans crammed with everything from food and walkie-talkies to spare gasoline and emergency generators, Lilly and her gang hit the road. From there, fans of this series pretty much know what to expect–lots of violent, bloody battles between the humans and the walkers, with a few surprises and twists thrown in along the way.

While past books in this series definitely required some frame of reference or backstory to properly understand the plot, this one does not. Whether you’re an avid reader of the novels, a casual fan of the show, or a total The Walking Dead newbie, anyone can pick this book up and dive in without any problems. In fact, the only real problem here is that eight books in, much of the plot feels repetitive. Jay Bonansinga mixes in new things and different ways to kill zombies here and there, but for the most part, these books do feel like one and the same. That’s not a bad thing, especially if you’re a fan of the series, but newcomers should know what to expect.

Lilly Caul is going home…and the dead are already there and waiting to greet her in Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead: Return to Woodbury. 


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