Thursday, April 13, 2017

Alien 3 Novel Review

Continuing on our trend of reviewing the last few 'Alien' novels, it's time now for Alien 3! (I promise, we're almost done and will move on to different novels shortly).

To begin, let me say that this actually turned out notably better than I really expected. To many who know the original movies, 'Alien 3' is generally considered the weakest of the group. Out of place, a little slow, a little boring, and just generally an all around 'meh' experience, I don't think I can name anyone who claims 'Alien 3' to be their favorite in the series. However, I'm happy to say the book did a bit more for me than the movie adaptation.

For those that are unfamiliar with the film, 'Alien 3' picks up almost immediately after the events of the 'Aliens' story. The survivors of the incident on Acheron are in cryogenic sleep and on their way back to Earth when disaster strikes. The sleepers are jettisoned in an escape pod and land on a nearby planet: Fiorina 161. The unfortunate part? 'Fury 161' as it's called is a largely uninhabitable planet utilized as a Penitentiary. Upon waking on this desolate world, Ripley finds that the disaster that destroyed her ship might not have been an accident and that she might have brought something else with her down to 'Fury 161'. Now, with 'the company' en route, racing to collect the Alien specimen and silence any witnesses, Ripley is in a race against time to kill the creature that is picking off the prisoners one by one while realizing that she herself might have brought more than one Alien with her to the planet...

As I mentioned before, I was largely surprised to find I enjoyed the book a great deal more than a movie. Many felt that the original film was unnecessary, drab, and failed to really do anything interesting with the formula. While I can't argue against the fact that the film simply feels like a rehash of the first movie's 'picking-a-group-off-one-by-one' concept, there are a few things the book did very well.

First, we had a large exploration of Fury 161 and the prisoners who live on the planet. While we got a few bits of information in the film regarding the planet being a 'shit hole' for lack of a better term and that there is a lice infestation, we really didn't see more than that. In the book, there's a greater focus on what the planet is like, what drew Weyland Yutani to mine there, what creatures live on the planet, how the facility itself works, and what day to day troubles all of the above afford the prisoners. Likewise, all of the prisoners get a more in-depth examination. While I doubt you could name more than a couple of the prisoners in the film, you are allowed to get a feel for a many of them this time around. The one that really grabbed my attention was Gollick, who plays a pretty big role during the Alien Hunt later in the book but who is largely ignored during the film with the exception of a couple key scenes.

Likewise, the actual interaction with the alien and the sheer panic of the Alien Hunt during the mount and climax of the book are fantastically well done. While the film by no means failed to deliver in these scenes, the book did well to portray the panic and chaos in these moments when everything that could go wrong did. Likewise, Ripley's odd 'experience' with the Aliens is delved into a little more deeply in a way the movie can't simply by adding a greater understanding for the senses and thoughts that would be involved here.

In short, I was happy to have read this one. I was blown away that I my least favorite movie actually proved to be a better read than the first book's adaptation. Worth a shot if you enjoy the series.


  1. Interesting. I almost always MUCH prefer books to movies. Books allow my imagination to run free, and I can stop and consider points better. And go back if I wish. Or occasionally skip bits and leap forward.
    I will confess I have never seen any of the Alien movies nor (yet) read the books.

  2. While I haven't read the books I did love all the movies. I liked this one (movie) because of the ending that I never saw coming and which made the next movie so interesting.

  3. I'll admit, I've never seen the Alien movies. However, I always find that I like the books over movies anyway.

  4. Interesting post. For some reason I don't like to read Alien books yet watch the movies!

  5. I confess that I have never read the Alien books, just seen the movies. And agree that Alien 3 is the weaker one. :-)

    Greetings from London.