I found the first half excellent, the second half pretty poor. Hated the Newt's Tale angle and would be interested to know if he was contractually obliged to include it. I only ask because if you take that aspect out, plus the copy and paste chapters from Aliens, we are left with a very, very short book indeed.
What strikes me is that Golden seems to have a lack of passion for the franchise compared to Jim Moore and Tim Lebbon. That may sound harsh and I'm sure he's a fan, but his writing makes this seem far less of a passion project for him than it was for the other two authors in this trilogy.
I hate the way the colonists just keep letting the chest bursters hatch. It's completely nonsensical. They already admit they cannot help them, so why not simply incinerate them all? I know Dr. Reese wanted specimens, but they already had a live face hugger contained.
I liked Brackett. His characterisation was very good and his portrayal of the Jordan family was also excellent. But it seems to be an ironic trend for me that with so many Aliens novels, things start off so well and go downhill when the aliens actually arrive on the scene.
I liked the exploration of the juggernaut, though I was hoping for a lot more. I really wanted chapters of Dr. Reese and his team going back and exploring the derelict in detail with some more Prometheus stuff and some accelerant. The fact they all die in the end would not harm continuity in any way and the secret of the space jockeys would still be preserved.
I'm gonna have to read this again in order to form a final opinion but this book just had me completely polarised. But I will say this has been a highly enjoyable trilogy of books, much better than the Dark Horse run. I just wish more of an effort had been made to link Prometheus in as like it or not, it's a part of this series now.
Out of the Shadows - Would have removed Ripley and Ash, changed the dog aliens to another Engineer outpost and weapons cache.
Sea of Sorrows - Would not have had the Auriga crash cause so much devastation on Earth. That aspect was ridiculous considering Ripley went to such lengths to stop the alien reaching Earth to avoid such a disaster.
River of Pain - I wouldn't have followed Newt's tale. I would have had a more scientific exploration of the derelict before the shit hit the fan at the colony. I don't think I would have had Brackett and the girl survive either. I know it doesn't exactly break continuity, but it seems odd now watching Aliens knowing that a good faction of the colonists survived. I also would have had some colonists survive until literally hours before Ripley and the marines arrived.