Book #5 starts off a lot like The Road (I've never read it but I saw the movie, so same difference, right?). It's just a man and his son trying to survive in a really fucked-up post-apocalyptic version of the world. Rick would of course do anything for Carl and he's doing everything he possibly can to keep him alive. But due to his latest injury, Rick's starting to slow down and Carl has to step up and start being a man, even though he's only like twelve. I liked this focus on the father-son relationship and how it deepens and becomes even stronger in times of uncertainty and peril. The unfortunate thing about these moving scenes though were the fact that the artist's portrayal of Carl in some frames looked uncannily like Lori and Maggie, the other dark-haired female characters of the series. It was just a little distracting that they made Carl look so feminine when he's supposed to be having these huge realizations about becoming a man and growing up.
Rick and Carl end up running into some of the old gang who survived the last book and for the most part get along just fine. Of course the two male leaders eventually start to butt heads and argue about what's best for the group (as men always seem to have to do in this series), but first they have to deal with a trio of other survivors who might or might not be dangerous. There's Sergeant Abraham, his girlfriend Rosita, and Doctor Eugene, who claims to know exactly how the zombie outbreak started and how to end it. These new characters are all right. Abraham is the only one who really talks and he's usually conflicting with Rick which offers some drama. "Doctor" Eugene might just be a crazy dude who's cracked under the pressure and stress of everything going on around him, but he acts and speaks like he's legit for the most part. The only thing that really bothers me with him is that he has a mullet. At one point he explains that he felt this was a good defense mechanism, to look like a stupid hillbilly and prevent miscreants and scoundrels from knowing his true worth. I personally think he would look just as stupid without the mullet because nothing about his person screams genius to me. He doesn't wear glasses, he has a vacant look on his face most of the time, and he looks like a slob. But whatever, I guess in Georgia you're going to run into a mullet from time to time.
Overall this was a pretty good installment. It's kind of slow since there's a lot of character development stuff and emotional parts. But we get to find out what happened to Morgan and Duane (the father and son who initially found and helped Rick after he awoke from his coma). Also, probably the most exciting part (which I'm really looking forward to seeing in the TV show adaptation), we see a "herd" of zombies for the first time - hundreds of zombies moving en masse, walking blindly until they find tasty morsels of people to eat. Awesome and terrifying at the same time.