Alien/Predator Novel Reviews

Started by Hudson, Aug 19, 2014, 04:55:43 PM

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Alien/Predator Novel Reviews (Read 50,481 times)

Hudson

Hudson

#30
Aliens: Criminal Enterprise 3/5

This was better than Original Sin and No Exit, but the story pretty much has nothing to do with the Aliens. I feel like I read somewhere that that was an issue a lot of people had with it. I thought the writing was better than both Original Sin and No Exit, but the story itself seemed kind of cookie-cutter. Criminals on a criminal planet, okay. A lot of the characters were forgettable, and either not really all that intimidating (as I feel we were meant to believe) or just kind of annoying. In fact, there were too many characters in this book. Way too many characters also get brought in late. Too many people die in too short a time span for me to really care that much about anyone. Again, the ending seems rushed.

I didn't really mind all that much that the Aliens take kind of a back-seat to the rest of the narrative. It's whatever; I'm a sci-fi fan and I'll read the book anyway. BUT, there's pretty much no mention of their life-cycle at all, and what mention there is of them having secret caves, lairs etc. is never brought up later. The Aliens could have been exchanged for any anonymous monster. It feels as if this story has simply been plugged into the Aliens univers having been taken from some other series.

That said, it was short as hell, only 220 pages or so, and it was a decent read. I thought the character-based story worked, although it wasn't a GREAT story per say and the protagonist(s) kind of fade into the background near the end of the book. A lot of things just aren't resolved though, or their resolutions aren't satisfying. Particularly the payoffs in relation to the human antagonists. Just not that satisfying. Mentions of the Grant Corporation I thought were interesting...but again, I feel like it could have been any organization because I'm not completely sure how specific the references went. It took me a little longer to read this than No Exit since I was reading other stuff concurrently, so my thoughts might not be totally as focused.

Overall though, I thought it was decent and preferred it to No Exit, the score for which I'm lowering from a 3 to a 2.

Hudson

Hudson

#31
Hey, I'm back again!

Aliens: Earth Hive 3/5

I've never really been interested in these, but I received a gift card to Barnes & Noble and wanted to pick some things up, and there it was, The Complete Aliens Omnibus Vol. 1 right there, and I couldn't help myself. And I'm very happy about it because this was a good book, probably my favorite of the Aliens novels I've read so far to be honest, so I'm really excited for Nightmare Asylum. The three books I've read in the Dark Horse series have ranged from complete shit to decent at best. As a writer myself I have to say Steve Perry's writing is exactly what you need for this book. He can write a good sentence, varies the length of his sentences so they don't feel repetitive and monotonous. He moves the story along and engages the reader, although I recognize he had limitations to work with since the story itself was not of his design. The comic isn't particularly my favorite; I've always felt the first one is a bit convoluted and doesn't focus enough on what's truly compelling (the overtaking of Earth by the Aliens). Overall I don't really find the characters in this one to be all that memorable. Massey is completely ridiculous for instance, and the way he's established is so over the top I'm surprised it didn't make me laugh out loud (again, Perry's not at fault for this since he's adapting something). The descriptions of Earth being overrun are really abrupt and lack any kind of human drama since they're basically focalized from the point of view of a government scientist...or whatever it is that Orona really does. It's definitely a cop-out that so much of the novel is focalized through Wilks', yet it's a 'plot-twist' for Bueller to be an android...even though Wilks knew the whole time...and Bueller knew the whole time. I was really hoping for a kind of Deckard Blade Runner deal here where Bueller didn't know until he was cut in half. Generally a really fun, quick read though, which isn't what I can say for Original Sin or either of the novelizations, although the Aliens novelization is mostly a good read.

But... what the f**k is up with SO MANY utterances of "Chreesto!" or "Buddha!" ? Especially Buddha. I wish I would've tallied these up, because it just reeks of the author's hand. Stephen King does this similarly with his dialogue a lot, where I feel you're just hearing his voice and not really the developed voice of fully realized characters. I mean come on, there are a TON of different characters who say Chreesto or Buddha and it's not like 'f**k' is completely eliminated here or anything, so I just felt that was really goofy and needed to comment. It drew a lot of my attention.

Generally though, I wasn't anticipating this book to be a fun read, but I did have a lot of fun reading it.


Corporal Hicks

Corporal Hicks

#32
Ha! The Buddha thing got me too. I liked Earth Hive, I always have but I find it a little too pedestrian of late. I think Nightmare Asylum rocks though!

Hudson

Hudson

#33
Quote from: Corporal Hicks on Jun 03, 2016, 09:35:04 AM
Ha! The Buddha thing got me too. I liked Earth Hive, I always have but I find it a little too pedestrian of late. I think Nightmare Asylum rocks though!

And of course, several chapters into Nightmare Asylum and there's been at least one Buddha. *facepalm* As long as Spears doesn't say it. I can't take his character getting ruined.

One thing I left out of this was actually I don't really buy the past relationship between Wilks and Billie. Of course we know the vague details surrounding their backstory and can fill things in when considering that they're standing in for Hicks and Newt, but our interior access to their minds doesn't veer much toward the specific events they experienced together on 'Rim' in most cases. Sure they have nightmares, but that's not the same thing. It just feels like a placeholder for exposition to me instead of being fully realized in order to differentiate it more from the events in Aliens. I just don't buy any type of bond between these two characters, and considering what they've been through together it feels absent. And again, I'm not really sure I can fault Perry for this because from what I understand the writers of these Aliens novels are always under someone else's thumb. The good thing is that it feels like Perry had fun writing the book, unless he's a good enough writer to deceive us in that respect.

Interestingly, Diane Carey logged on Amazon in 2007 and posted her own rebuttal review of Aliens: DNA War (which I'm planning to take a look at this summer):
QuoteSorry some readers didn't like the new twists, but readers should realize that any media tie-in book like Aliens, Star Trek, Star Wars is a collaborative effort between the publisher, studio, and author. In the case of the different behavior of the aliens in this book, I was specifically asked by the publisher to come up with some traits, methods, abilities, behavior that had not been seen before. Some readers also did not like Star Trek TNG: Ship of the Line, in which Kelsey Grammer's character returns for more than a cameo, suggesting that I was infatuated with the momentary appearance and got carried away. In fact, I never saw the episode with Kelsey Grammer's appearance. I was asked by the franchise licensors (Pocket Books and Paramount Studios) to write a book with that character as a main character in response to fan enthusiasm, so I did. Be aware that content in media tie-in books is not always solely the conception of the author, but part of a marketing plan from those who own or license the property.

Authors cannot arbitrarily enhance or alter these owned properties. Each book must be approved by the owner or licensor before it can be published, and therefore becomes a kind of "canon." I'm somewhat surprised that long-time fans and frequent readers of licensed properties are tuned in to every micro-detail, yet don't know that their beloved venue is tightly controlled, and not by the authors.. Apparently many reviewers are not aware of the cramped box within which professional writers must work. It's hardly a "whim" business. What readers find in these books is not always the author's idea.

PS I am not giving a star rating to the book, because I'm the author; I only put "3" because the review menu required it.

Hudson

Hudson

#34
Aliens: Nightmare Asylum 3/5

Ok, this is now the best Aliens novel I've read. I was impressed that Perry was able to fill the story out for 30 chapters, which was the same structure as book one, which was based on a comic series that lasted two more issues. Couldn't have been an easy task, and I remember he used to have a thread going here so I might have to scroll through and see if anyone asked him about that process.

Despite the fact that Spears is a fairly cliche character in the world of storytelling (Colonel Kurtz anyone?) I was glad to see there were at least 2 times where Perry fleshed out his backstory by going the route of the flashback to give us some more info. It was a bit iffy that it turns out he killed someone at age 9, but I felt the story of him essentially getting statutorily raped by a senior enlisted instructor was risky and unexpected.

Overall this one just works better because the story gets to the point right away. Earth Hive becomes a little convoluted with the sheer amount of characters (who are mostly just names) you're expected to keep track of across at least three different plot lines. This story is just about a crazy general and the people trying to resist him. I'm not without my gripes though. I didn't think much was done with Powell in the novel. I remember him being a likable character in the comic, but here he's just relegated to being a dweeb. He exists to make Wilks look more "like a man." I mean...he's a Colonial Marine major, so I don't get where this "non combat soldier" thing comes in. The USCM mythos definitely takes a hit with that characterization. Definitely constructed for the adaptation. In the comic I remember being shocked when he gets shot, in the novel I didn't really care and it's hardly even dwelled upon. Also, Perry's tendency to add in nearly anything he can at any given time that reflects some type of sexual thought or dialogue can get really out of place and awkward really fast. Near the end, Wilks has Billie insert some kind of vaginal block so she doesn't piss herself in the space suit? Is this what I'm to understand? Then he asks if she needs help adjusting it and she comments something to the extent that if he helps her it will be too arousing/distracting for her and they'll end up f**king. This mere pages after Wilks has realized he's "old enough to be her father" and I believe she had also acknowledged that. But for some reason we needed a quick diversion so we were all sure that they wanted to bang? That part was straight up f**king weird and needed to get cut out. It made no sense at all.

Earth Hive and Nightmare Asylum are both pretty good, definitely better than the 3 Dark Horse novels I've read which for the most part seemed ambivalent that "Aliens" was even printed on the cover. Still haven't gotten into any of the Titan Books originals yet but hopefully this summer.

Hudson

Hudson

#35
Currently on a camping trip typing this on my phone.

The Female War 3/5

Hm, so I enjoyed this because I didn't reply remember the comic as much as the first two. More characters than Nightmare Asylum, and more developed overall. I liked the idea of the Queen Mother (that's what it's called right?) sending transmissions into people's dreams. It was a bit goofy how they rounded everyone up who had the dreams. SD Perrys influences on the writing seemed obvious at certain points, especially the annoying dialects that pop up in dialogue, shortened words with apostrophes and whatnot. Kind of annoying. Couldn't make it through without a Buddha or Christo once again. The inclusion of Ripley obviously had to come through from the comic and the little plot twist salvaged it for the most part.

I mean I guess the ending worked but it's pretty anticlimactic to say "ok there's going to be an explosion but not for six months" and also there needed to be some more resolution for Ripleys character here.

DNA War 2/5

I was expecting something really bad here but the story itself didn't bother me too much. Flying facehuggers: dumb. Aliens fighting each other: dumb. The mad scientist villain was irritating as hell and while characters need to have dialogue at cross purposes to create engaging conflicts, there was just so much arguing between people that went nowhere it ended up being frustrating to read. No real likeable characters of note. The first person narration didn't capture an interesting voice or interior access, could've easily been in third person. Rory's focalization of the story is pretty bland. I had kind of a tough time picturing things spatially. I wanted to punch a baby after what felt like the thousandth time facehuggers were compared to scorpions and the tunes on the Aliens backs were referred to as snorkels. It takes too long to get to the point. The ending felt inevitable which is the right way to do it, but it felt completely expected. It wasn't awful but it wasn't good. Definitely better than Original Sin that's for sure.

Nostromo

Nostromo

#36
ROFL "I wanted to punch a baby". Ahhh DNA War..I remember reading that excrement...

Corporal Hicks

Corporal Hicks

#37
I've just about purged the DH Press novels from my memory. I remember them being pretty meh with Criminal Enterprise being the best and Steel Egg being utter wank and No Exit being such a disappointment as it started so incredibly well.

The thing I was disappointed most with Female War was no resolution to the Jockey storyline.

Hudson

Hudson

#38
Quote from: Corporal Hicks on Jun 17, 2016, 07:56:32 AM
The thing I was disappointed most with Female War was no resolution to the Jockey storyline.

Yeah, while I mostly enjoyed the rest of it, that was notably absent.

Steel Egg 2/5

So, I love that John Shirley felt he needed a personal introduction to the book to explain to us that he solved the problem of how chestbursters grow into xenomorphs. Because they f**king eat. Wow.

This book again suffers from the same problems as Original Sin and DNA War, not a single character I feel the need to root for. Not even any characters who I love to hate. No good villains. Reynolds as a mad scientist felt pretty typical. There could've been some type of reversal revealing him as a more well rounded character, but nope. Mad scientist all the way, completely unredeemable sociopath from square one. Nothing relatable about him in the least bit. Can't say I'm surprised. The Alien series is pretty anti-scientist. Look at Ash in Alien or Wren in Resurrection, and then of course the countless ones in the comics and I'm also guessing the other Bantam book adaptations as well.

Also, for being the 'first' encounter with Xenomorphs...again, wow. So, a ship finds a derelict alien spacecraft and find eggs on board. Well f**k me if that isn't the exact plot of Alien. Nicely done, very creative. Shirley also is clearly not actually a fan of the property. You can tell by his incessant use of 'The Company' throughout the book. This book was published in 2007, Weyland-Yutani was no secret. Even shitty AvP worked in tons of back story for the Weyland side of things and whatnot, but Shirley decided he'd needlessly retcon this stuff to add in the UN vs. Communism angle. What's up with the nationalism I've encountered here? Steel Egg is somehow an anti-communist story, which in 2007 is pretty worthless unless Shirley thought it was still 1957. He even worked in a line that their discoveries would be the greatest 'since Eric the Red discovered America.' Okay, man. You do you, I guess. There was a line about the CANC ending all freedom on planet Earth if they took the giant ship back with them, which received an audible laugh from me. This is just stupid, clumsy subtext to me at best, and at worst it's actually a misguided attempt to turn the Alien series into some kind of pedestal for idiots to air their political grievances. Ironically, Alien is actually an anti-capitalist series if it's going to be classified as taking any political stance. And I have to say, if anyone found the UNIC ship named 'Al Gore' to be remotely humorous, I both envy you and feel bad for you at the same time. "Haha, in the future Al Gore will have a spaceship named after him because Global Warming turned out to be real!"  ::)

Also noticed in DNA War that Diane Carey felt necessary on 2 occasions to remind readers how bad Stalin was. Twice! The second line was something like "Lenin was bad, Stalin was worse." First of all, it's not a f**king contest who the worst dictator in history was, which is the exact mentality of people like her who need everyone around them to know that 'Stalin was the worst!' Again, all that's happening here is the author's outing herself as some kind of reactionary, and what a laughable soapbox to be standing on when no one reading these books is here for that kind of bullshit. But that's DNA War.

Steel Egg just suffers from the same issues that all of these Dark Horse Press novels have so far (still have Cauldron to go). They don't feel like Alien tonally at all. The dialogue is shit in most cases, characters simply aren't characterized. The Aliens are barely a threat, and when they are they're not scary at all. It just really seems to me that the DHP editor overseeing this 6 book series and the representatives from Fox who oversaw it on their end just didn't give a shit about the property at all. I think it was evident to me from reading No Exit. If Brian f**king Evenson can't turn out a complete Aliens novel with what he had done in his career up to that point, then no one writing in this series was going to be able to. Criminal Enterprise is certainly the most complete, well-rounded of the 5 I've read, and even it barely has anything to do with the title characters.


Hudson

Hudson

#39
Alien: Out of the Shadows 4/5

This was easily the best Alien novel I have read to date. While the three novels in the original comics adaptation series were an improvement on the Dark Horse novels, and Criminal Enterprise & No Exit aren't alllll that bad, Out of the Shadows improves on them all. I think what mostly does it is consistency of tone. This feels a lot more like the films than any of the other books I've read, even the novelizations in some cases. I thought Ripley was written well, Lebbon had a good grasp of her character. She's usually overwritten. Original Sin was terrible in how it dealt with Ripley. I thought the story was fairly well handled, felt very much in the spirit of the first two films. The level of tension and the general simplicity of the story with the Aliens always at the forefront of the conflict made this a real page turner. This is probably the first Alien novel I've read where I found myself thinking about it when I wasn't reading it, and looking forward to returning to it as soon as I could. Lebbon can really write a sentence, and the book was actually pleasurable to read from a language perspective. Very easy to read for extended periods of time. Of course, some of the retconning is a little goofy and you might struggle accepting it as canon, but I appreciated its engagement with the films and I thought it was well done.

Russ840

Russ840

#40
I recently listened to the Audio book of Out of the Shadows. I really enjoyed it. Yeah the retcon is a bit weak but hey, who cares. It does not ruin anything.

Hudson

Hudson

#41
I mostly just thought it was a lot of fun for once, whereas some of the previous Alien novels had been mind-numbing. Steel Egg was pretty dumb.

Russ840

Russ840

#42
I wont go near those books. They sound awful.

Im generally more of a comic man so all the books that are novelisations of comics, im not that bothered about reading. Apart from Berserker. That has piqued my interest.

This being an original novel was a sell for me and it helped that they weren't disliked so mich like the DHP press novels.

Have you read River of Pain and Sea of Sorrows ? 

SM

SM

#43
QuoteCriminal Enterprise is certainly the most complete, well-rounded of the 5 I've read, and even it barely has anything to do with the title characters.

That was largely the point of those books I believe.  Tell stories in the Alien universe where the Aliens aren't the focus.

What I did like about Steel Egg was a couple of the death passages.
Spoiler
One guy cuts himself open to try and remove the burster before it kills him, and another forces the ships medic to operate on him to remove it, only for to kill him and then the medic.
[close]

Hudson

Hudson

#44
I remember those scenes feeling gruesome/effective, just mostly feeling total indifference toward the characters. It was an overall boring read I thought. Might muscle my way through Cauldron this summer.

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