The Imperial prison barge Purge, en route to a remote prison moon, breaks down in an even more remote sector of space. Luck seems to have favored the vessel, though, because the barge's navicomputer has found a derelict Star Destroyer drifting nearby that it can cannibalize for parts.
How the Star Destroyer became a derelict in such a remote region of space is a question the captain of the Purge does not wish to trouble himself with. He just wants the Purge's drive systems to be operational as soon as possible.
Two salvage crews board the seemingly deserted Star Destroyer, but only one manages to return. The returning crew brings with it a rapidly spreading viral infection that kills almost every single person on board the Purge in a matter of hours.
But that is not all the virus does to those that it infects. Those that have died from the infection do not stay dead...
Wait just a minute. A Star Wars horror novel? A Star Wars horror novel that has zombies in it? Really? I do not know who thought that it would be a great idea to have Night of the Living Dead take place a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, but that person is just nuts.
Death Troopers dares to venture into genre territory that I never thought a Star Wars tie-in novel would ever bother to explore: the R rated horror story. Now that I think of it, lets make that the unrated horror story, since writer Joe Schreiber's novel has some gore set pieces in it that are worthy of a George A. Romero movie. Am I alone in thinking that I would never, ever read an officially sanctioned Star Wars novel that features undead stormtroopers, Imperial officers, and numerous alien species (including the Wookie) ripping people and/or aliens apart and eating them?
But now that I have read the book (and do I really need to point out that there was no way in hell that I would not get around to reading this book), the only thing I can I think to ask is: WHY!?!
Death Troopers is, at best, a serviceable piece of programmer schlock. It does not embarrass itself, but it does not really distinguish itself. Take out all of the excessive gore and what is left is a spooky bit of fun that could have been the Star Wars Halloween Special. One that features Han and Chewie navigating their way through an Imperial Star Destroyer that has been turned into something akin to a haunted house. It's obvious that novelist Joe Schreiber, or his editor, was also very much aware of the Holiday Gimmick feel to the project, because the book dares to have a chapter titled Lifeday, which is a blatant shout out to the memory scarring Star Wars Holiday Special.
This book has been out for a while, now. So chances are very good that most of the people drawn to reading this kind of nonsense will have already done so. They will not need to be told that, despite not feeling all that traditional as a Star Wars story, Death Troopers does deliver enough creepy chills and gruesome thrills to make it an interesting change of pace for fans of Star Wars, or of horror, or, as is the case with your humble blogger, of both.
Such an interesting enough change of pace that I now want to read Schreiber's prequel, Red Harvest.