I hope people who check these reviews out are wise enough to realize that the negative reactions from Me "Sal" and Timstuff "tim16733 are biased and therefore pretty much moot when it comes to reviewing this book: by their own admission, they are hardcore purists of the games, so anything derived from a movie that is "based on" the games is going to immeasurably hack them off.
This is a novelization, based off a Hollywood screenplay, it is bound to be outside the realm of the games - get over it.
I picked this book up to read at the beach. I wanted something light, fun and easily absorbed in the face of multiple distractions; fellow beach goers, family, music, propensity to doze in the sun. And in that vein, this book did not disappoint one bit.
The story itself, or rather the screenplay the book is based on, is pretty cut and dry: Alice (Milla Jovovich's character in the movies) is on the loose trying to help those who have survived a zombie-making plague. Part of her energy is spent running from her demons, and her would be captors, the Umbrella Corporation.
Alice stumbles upon a group of old friends leading a rag-tag caravan of survivors and does her best to protect them as they flee north as fast as they can. Relationships are forged, lives are lost, and all with the stakes ever rising.
Keith R.A. DeCandido's prose is quick and rarely bogged with any extraneous nonsense. Characters appear, get introduced, and react to what is basically a zombie story mixed with a bit of Mad Max and a sprinkle of corporate anarchy that reminded me a lot of Omni Consumer Products.
The book features a large cast of two-dimensional characters - remember folks, this is a novelization of an action movie! - and I was impressed with the way in which DeCandido breathed life into each and every one with purposeful, if not fun, back stories. And were it not for those, the characters would have become monotonous and indistinguishable.
Sometimes the characterizations get a little too stereotypical, such as Jasper a black cop in Baltimore. His overtly jive mannerisms are completely over the top; more one-dimensional then two. Equally one-dimensional is a new monster that sort of just materializes at the end. Its goofy and left field, as are the "powers" of one of the characters.
But within the context of the book, these are almost nitpicky. Things that read odd on paper will look good on film. And speaking of film, DeCandido does an impressive job of backfilling the previous films and relevant game history for those who may have missed out before this. I've probably played the game at some point, certainly saw the first movie, but that's about it. Once I got into DeCandido's narrative flow, which transitions in the first half between the past (Before) and the present (After), I slipped into the story with no problem. Course, I'm a junky for post-apocalyptic stories of lost worlds and abandoned cities (I especially loved the visual of a half-buried Las Vegas!), so this was right up my alley.
Best of all, though, was DeCandido's subtle acknowledgment that Extinction may at times seem a little silly. He constantly had the characters disbelieving the reality of actual zombies wandering around the Earth; having them admit that it is too absurd to believe - a nice nod and wink that made this all the more enjoyable as a quick, no nonsense read.
And on a private note: thank you Mr. DeCandido for the dedication to Pierce Askegren. I did not know him extremely well at all, but from what little I did know, he would in fact have really loved this....