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Resident Evil: Genesis, by Keith R.A. DeCandido Book Review | SFReader.com
Resident Evil: Genesis, by Keith R.A. DeCandido Genre: Movie Novelization Publisher: Pocket Books Published: 2004 Review Posted: 4/2/2005 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 6 out of 10
Resident Evil: Genesis, by Keith R.A. DeCandido
Book Review by Fraser Ronald
Have you read this book?
I was somewhat apprehensive about taking on a review of Resident Evil: Genesis. I had a very bad experience with the novelization of Underworld. While I consider the Resident Evil movie to be superior to Underworld, I certainly wouldn't consider it a good movie. What, then, could I expect of the book?
As it turns out, the book is better than its source material. Let me be frank: this is not a particularly good piece of literature. It is however a good example of relatively mindless, action-adventure in writing. And if you picked up this book looking for literature or even a deep and abiding experience, you are so far out of the loop you need to fear re-entry into the atmosphere.
Resident Evil: Genesis is actually a novelization of the movie, Resident Evil. I had actually wondered if perhaps it was some kind of prequel. The "Genesis" part of the title was likely added so as to differentiate it from the Resident Evil: Apocalypse movie. If you have not seen the movie or played the game, the story is about an underground laboratory turned into a den of zombies by a biological weapon. Unaware of the fate of the denizens of the underground facility, a team is sent in to shut down the computer, the Red Queen. This team includes Alice Abernathy, a security operative who has lost her memory. Once inside, the team must face the zombies and the Red Queen's defenses.
As I read the novel, the first thing that arrested me was how the writer had completely changed the structure. Almost the first half of the novel is a set-up for the release of the biological weapon, a virus. In the movie, we begin with the release and the set-up is done through flashbacks. The re-structuring, I believe, works in the novel. It helps us to invest in the characters. Maybe linking the audience to the character was not as important at the outset of the movie. Given the target audience, I think that's probably true. I do think there is a necessity to create some sympathy for the main character in a book. I also think that the restructuring achieves this to some degree.
Keith DeCandido also takes advantage of the ability to get inside the character's head. This further links the reader to the character, changing a relatively mindless action movie with very little character development into something slightly more palatable for this reader.
Having said all this, while this is certainly not a complete disaster like the Underworld novelization, it is also not an outstanding success. There is only so much a writer can do with the source material, and I believe this worked against Mr. DeCandido. He certainly did better with the material than I expected. I didn't hate the experience, but this is not a book I would recommend to my friends. Your taste in books might be different. If you read the Underworld novelization and enjoyed it, this will undoubtedly appeal to you. If you considered the movie a complete waste of time, just walk away now. If you considered the movie fun, and are looking for something extremely light and undemanding, this might just be what you are looking for.
In the end, were I to give a general recommendation to readers of science fiction, I would suggest giving this book a pass. There are plenty of excellent books out there to read. Go find one of those.
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