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3.0 out of 5 stars Survive the Profanity, 26 May 2009
This review is from: Resident Evil: Apocalypse (Mass Market Paperback)
This is Keith DeCandido's second movie adaptation of the movie franchise. These novelizations run parallel to SD Perry's books though not in direct competition. Neither series acknowledges the other. DeCandido's books are well-developed and better written than SD Perry's, the noticeable difference being the level of maturity and articulation in the text. SD Perry's books seem aimed for less mature readers.

The story picks up immediately after the finale of Resident Evil Genesis, leaving Alice standing ready with an RCPD issue shotgun ready to take on whatever the T-Virus infected populace of Raccoon City can throw at her. Following the movie fairly closely, Jill Valentine drops by RCPD headquarters, wastes a handful of hand-cuffed zombies and departs for the city limits - only to be prevented from doing so by the security lockdown at Raven's Gate Bridge. Terry Morales, ex-Racoon 7 News Anchor (now relegated to weathergirl) appears in the church in the centre of the city - along with the street hustler `LJ' after a run-in with the Nemesis Super Soldier. In a particularly well-written part of the novel's earlier chapters; Angela Ashford (daughter of Charles Ashford - Chief T-Virus Designer) is driven at high speeds through Racoon City's streets in a frantic convoy of Umbrella Security Division's Hi-tech SUV's. In a frightening collision with a haulage truck whose driver has already succumbed, the SUV convoy is completely trashed - Angie Ashford the only survivor. Segments such as this illustrate the benefits of movie novelizations; that unfilmed yet interesting scenes can be fed easily into the story that a film might not always have time for. A movie such as Resident Evil Apocalypse, the film-makers know, has no business being any longer than 90 minutes. So it is only to the benefit of the novel's need for additional depth that these elements of the back story are fleshed out.

Another element of the book not depicted on screen is the psyche of Umbrella's Chief Security Officer Major Timothy Cain. He was the character that appeared at very end of the first movie only glimpsed through a surgical face mask. He was played by Paul WS Anderson's chief stalwart Jason Isaacs who voices the line..."I want him in the Nemesis Programme.....we're re-opening the Hive". In the second movie he is played by German actor Thomas Kretschmann, and is a man of ruthless efficiency who appears to have virtually no regard for human life. The novel fleshes out his back story a bit more and this is very welcome. But looking a bit closer one can spot that the first few pages of the novel merely copies and pastes the text of Timothy Cain's past exploits from the first novel. Depending on whether the reader has a photographic memory, this feels a bit weird. I've never seen an author plagiarize his own work before. How strange!

One minor complaint however is the novel's length. It may only take the reader a week to complete the entire book. The novel, similar to the movie, is relatively short. After Alice crashes her motorbike through the stain glass windows of the church where the group of survivors are holing up, relatively few significant events take place: After rescuing Angie Ashford from the local school at the request of Charles Ashford, the group meets Carlos Olivera and his Umbrella SWAT team. They indulge in a gun battle with a swathe of the undead and Alice has a brief scuffle with the Nemesis. After pinching a helicopter and dumping Major Cain out the cargo bay door to his death amidst a swarm of zombies, the team fly away at maximum speed but are caught by the fringes of an atomic detonation. This attempt by Umbrella to erase all evidence of the outbreak causes the helicopter to crash. It is an accident in which most of the team survives, yet Alice appears to have been killed, only to wake up moments later in some kind of submerged rehabilitation bubble in an Umbrella medical lab. After a moment of amnesia Alice uses her burgeoning psychic powers to break out of the facility. She is picked up by Carlos and the others in an SUV, watched closely by Umbrella Scientist Dr Isaacs who allows them to leave unmolested.

Perhaps it is the quality of DeCandido's writing that turns the novel into a page turner completed in short order. There is limited scope to develop too much back story given the events in the movie need to be followed quite closely. Though the piece is only 277 pages long, the description of events is quite rich and all the characters are given due attention.

There is one area in which I would take issue with the author, and that is the use of profanity. During the chapters of the book where the author illustrates the thoughts occurring in the mind of LJ the Hustler, the use of foul language is continuous. Every other line features excessive bad language. Now, whilst it is important for an author to communicate the inner workings of a character to make the story work. It isn't necessary for the writer to be quite so graphic, and in this case, represents an author with a serious lack of imagination. There was certainly not that level of foul language in the movie's script, given the film's certification, so why drop it into the book with such regularity? The segments of the book where this profanity occurs seem very juvenile in comparison to the rest of the book. As if an immature person has suddenly learnt how to swear and wants to show off in front of everyone.

Other than this complaint, this is a well-written and very descriptive zombie thriller. It is well worth investigating for fans of the genre. The 3rd book `Extinction' which follows is much better, far longer and more dense and expressive. Extinction shows DeCandido is growing in maturity as writer in the genre.
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