Thursday, December 3, 2015

Halo: The Flood Book Review

by The World Weary

Author: William C. Dietz
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Military Science Fiction, Video Game
Series: Halo Novel Book Two
Pages: 352 

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Halo: Combat Devolved

(This review contains spoilers for Halo:The Fall of Reach).

Halo: The Flood is a straight up adaptation of Halo: Combat Evolved. Where Reach was a riveting narrative, full of character and excitement, this is a lifeless husk of words. Every single character from Reach now feels like an altogether different being. The action scenes are the worst part of the book, as Dietz glosses over every single one, and robs them of tension. The result is a book that isn’t just disappointing, it’s a flat out bore.

The Halo universe is a rich and unique place for fans who know and love the series. The series of novels that began with Halo: The Fall of Reach only seemed to add wonderful depth to the space marine versus aliens stories. Now, for some reason, it was deemed necessary to base the second book in the series off the events of the first video game. William C. Dietz was brought in to replace Eric Nylund for the second book, and Halo: The Flood was born.

After Reach is destroyed and the Pillar of Autumn makes a randomized slipspace jump, Master Chief Spartan 117 is awakened as Covenant begin to board the ship. Fighting his way to the bridge of the ship, the Chief learns that the Autumn has exited slipspace right next to a giant ring construct of unknown origin. Captain Keyes tasks the Spartan with the safeguarding of Cortana and sends him off the ship as it crashes into the ring world. Battered and alone, the surviving marines and naval personell set up a base in an abandoned facility on the ring, and clash against the Covenant for their very survival. Meanwhile, Cortana learns of a control room inside the structure that can be used to turn the ring into some kind of weapon. In a race against the aliens, Master Chief must reach the control room first and secure the weapon. Unbeknownst to either side however, a mysterious parasitic lifeform lurks within the bowels of the ring, waiting for a chance to be released.

Literally following in every footstep of the game, this book is an almost 100% accurate adaptation of the game. Many scenes are copied down to the number of enemies and even the weapons that you would be allowed to wield in the level. With all that attention to detail, it’s a shame that the book and its author forget what makes a book interesting. The action scenes that comprise well over three fourths of the book are as dull and lifeless as listening someone else play the campaign while you wear a blindfold. Every single action scene play out as follows:
“That was when the noncom spotted thirty grunts, all wielding plasma pistols. He leveled his MD6 and popped off several 14mm shots. Roughly thirty seconds elapsed before all the aliens were laying in pools of their own gore.”
Every fight there is mention of how many enemies the Chief or the marines must face, what weapons they’re using, what caliber the bullets from the weapons are, and how long the fight lasted. With every scene following playing out in this exact same fashion, you’ll find yourself wishing that the book would just end. It becomes such a chore to read this that eventually you might find yourself missing paragraphs as your eyes wearily gloss over them. This is the greatest crime of this book, but not the only one.

The characters that you came to know and love throughout The Fall of Reach, are now presented as one liner spewing shadows of their former selves. The Chief is no longer a blunt tool, who was always emotionally detatched, he’s now a sarcastic asshole who happens to be wearing fancy armor. Keyes suffers the same fate, as does Cortana, who literally just delivers her lines from the games.

Fortunately, Dietz had enough sense to add sections that followed Covenant forces and even Flood infected vessels, which add some flavor to this otherwise bland dish. The scenes showing the order and hierarchy of the Covenant are some of the best in the book, and add some character to an otherwise faceless juggernaut. However, this is hardly enough to make up for the rest of the book.
Dietz, responding to several negative reviews of his books, was quoted as saying,
“…of [the reviews] that I have read, the negative ones often say something to the effect that the book is just like the game, so why read it? What those readers may not realize is that I was hired to novelize the game. That means taking the game and turning it into a book or, put another way, I did what I was hired to do.”
Indeed you did Mr. Dietz. You did exactly what you were hired to do. Nothing more. Nothing less. It’s that attitude of laziness that makes this book a dark stain on the franchise, and a totally forgettable read. Your point is perfectly made, why read it?

Score: 4.0

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