Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Alien Resurrection Novel Review
Last, but certainly not least, we reach the fourth and final of the official installments of the Alien franchise. One could make an argument about "Prometheus" and "Alien Covenant" (to be released), however I think I'll actually discuss the book reviews themselves in a secondary post so that the review isn't inundated with nonsense.
Before we start, I want to clarify something that I didn't initially realize when I grabbed the book but recognized as I dug in. That is: "Alien Resurrection" has a different author. While the initial three stories were told by Alan Dean Foster, a true veteran in the industry when it comes to novelizations, the fourth one was done by A.C. Crispin. And, having just plowed through the previous three, I have to say that you could tell (in a good way!)
So, let's dig in.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Alien series, Alien Resurrection was the last of the "Quadrilogy" as it was affectionately known. Picking up several hundred years after the last installment, Ripley was dead and gone. That is, until scientists, utilizing DNA recovered from "Fury 161" are able to clone and recreate her. There's only one problem: her DNA has become intermingled with that of the Alien creature she fought so diligently against. Now, she is less than human; more of a monster that is linked both physically and mentally with the true prize the scientists hoped to acquire: a genetically recreated alien queen. But, as it would with these monsters, all hell breaks loose soon after a pirate crew arrives on the top secret science vessel. The few survivors must ban together to get out all while the ship barrels towards Earth with its monstrous cargo in tow.
The first thing that I noticed, as I touched on before, was the difference in the author. As I've mentioned in all three previous iterations, Alan Dean Foster has a deep and affectionate love for detail. Lots of detail. Occasionally, way too much detail. As it stands, detail is not necessarily a bad thing. However, sometimes the fine-toothed comb approach proves more of a hindrance than anything else, particularly in the first novel, when it brings the story grinding to a halt. As it were, the first three all definitely have a 'touch-and-go' story pace that resembles someone pumping the gas in a car. Alien Resurrection faces no such issues.
The fourth and final installment flows smooth as butter. While I technically still like Foster's "Aliens" novel better overall (primarily due to content versus style), I would be disrespecting Crispin's work by not recognizing that everything simply flows better. The book is a page turner if ever there was one.
The next thing that stood out compared to the previous installments was the similarity to the original screenplay. While this sounds weird, all previous iterations of the stories have featured severe departures from the canon. Things like "aliens with eyes" and "poisonous stinger barbs" are just some of the immediate thoughts, however all of Foster's novels feature information that is directly contradictory to established information from the films. Instead, Crispin sticks pretty solidly to the original story with only a few addendums that explore character motivation and background. Side characters that aren't overly explored in the original movie, such as Distephano the soldier and Purvis the hapless miner, are examined more deeply; making them more relateable and understandable characters vs. their relatively cardboard cutout design in the film.
Overall, the book is a good read. It's smooth and delivers and exciting and thrilling story that keeps you flipping pages to see what happens next. If you've read the previous books, its a good departure from the previous style. If you've seen the movies, it'll be an enjoyable translation of the onscreen action with just a little sugar to sweeten it up. Even if you haven't read/seen the others, I would definitely recommend this even as a standalone title.