I am obsessed with The Walking Dead.
That’s right. I said it. OBSESSED. I own the entire series, and I make it a point to buy it as soon as I see it hit the shelf. When the latest season isn’t airing (IS IT OCTOBER YET?!), I binge watch the show from start to finish—once a month. (And no, I don’t think that’s excessive at all. My family on the other hand… well, that’s a different story.) I’ve watched it so much, I’ve unintentionally memorized pretty much all of the dialogue. We have a TWD trivia game, but no one wants to play it with me because I always win. I like to point out little inconsistencies on episodes. (Example: “Chupacabra” [season two, episode five] After Daryl Dixon [Norman Reedus] is thrown from his horse, and hallucinates a conversation with his brother, Merle [Michael Rooker]? Pay attention to the dirt on Daryl’s mouth. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not.)
Like I said… obsessed.
Needless to say, when the opportunity came along to read an review copy of GUTS, I was all over it like the walkers who took out the Anderson family in “No Way Out” [season six, episode nine]. I was thrilled to be approved, and promptly tore into it like… well, you know. (And I swear, that is the last time I do that in this review… no more walker jokes. Promise!)
Vigna has put together a comprehensive guide to everything The Walking Dead. From how both the comic and the show came about, to season recaps and the rundown on its phenomenal ratings, and even a bit of philosophy, this book has it all. There are several areas in the book where the author gives detailed thoughts on particular events that happened during the show—such as Glenn Rhee’s (Steven Yeun) miraculous escape from certain death by conveniently hiding under the dumpster after Nicholas’ (Michael Traynor) commits suicide and causes them both to fall off the top of the dumpster into a hungry herd of walkers gathered below. His stance on why it shouldn’t have happened and how the show broke its own ‘rules’ in order to pull it off was one of my favorite parts of the book because the dumpster-death-that-wasn’t annoys the hell out of me every time I see it.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this book is how a goodly portion of it discusses things of the show that my family and I often talk about. Whether it’s nitpicking little things (like the length of the grass) or discussing mistakes made by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in his role as leader, etc., it was nice to see many of those same topics in the book.
The chapter discussing a Walker Stalker convention in Charlotte, North Carolina was especially fun to read, because it gives the reader a peak into the sincere appreciation the cast members—such as Michael Cudlitz (Abraham Ford) and Josh McDermitt (Eugene Porter), who were there that day—have for fans of the show, and how much they enjoy the time they spend talking to them. (And, likewise, the regard the fans have for the cast members.) Reading about (or better still, experiencing for yourself, if you’re fortunate enough to do so) such genuine warmth and appreciation just makes you feel good as a fan.
There is SO much more to the book than the few things I’ve touched on in this review. Suffice to say that in this reader’s opinion, GUTS: THE ANATOMY OF THE WALKING DEAD would make for a fine addition to your TWD collection. It’s a must have for fans!
So now there are two things to look forward to in October. This book, and the long-awaited start to season eight!
About the Book
In this first and only guide to AMC’s exceptional hit series The Walking Dead, the Wall Street Journal’s Walking Dead columnist celebrates the show, its storylines, characters, and development, and examines its popularity and cultural resonance.
From its first episode, The Walking Dead took fans in the United States and across the world by storm, becoming the highest-rated series in the history of cable television. After each episode airs, Paul Vigna writes a widely read column in which he breaks down the stories and considers what works and what doesn’t, and tries to discern the small details that will become larger plot points.
So how did a basic cable television show based on a graphic comic series, set in an apocalyptic dog-eat-dog world filled with flesh-eating zombies and even scarier human beings, become a ratings juggernaut and cultural phenomenon? Why is the show such a massive hit? In this playful yet comprehensive guide, Vigna dissect every aspect of The Walking Dead to assess its extraordinary success.
Vigna digs into the show’s guts, exploring its roots, storyline, relevance for fans and the wider popular culture, and more. He explores how the changing nature of television and media have contributed to the show’s success, and goes deep into the zombie genre, delineating why it’s different from vampires, werewolves, and other monsters. He considers why people have found in zombies a mirror for their own fears, and explains how this connection is important to the show’s popularity. He interviews the cast and crew, who share behind-the-scenes tales, and introduces a cross-section of its diverse and rabid viewership, from fantasy nerds to NFL stars. Guts is a must have for every Walking Dead fan.
About the Author
PAUL VIGNA is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and also contributes to the popular MoneyBeat blog. He is the author of two books (with Michael J. Casey), the critically acclaimed The Age of Cryptocurrency and The Blockchain. He lives in Verona, New Jersey, with his wife, Elizabeth, and their son.