Wednesday, December 9, 2015

City of the Dead Book Review

by The World Weary

Author: S.D. Perry
Publisher: Pocket
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror, Video Game
Series: Resident Evil Book Three
Pages: 352

Buy on Amazon!

We Built This City…

Resident Evil: City of the Dead is certainly better than Caliban Cove, but it’s still not as effective as The Umbrella Conspiracy. The book switches between too many characters too often, which leaves the main characters little room to develop. Perry certainly loves the series, which is great if you’re a hardcore fan, but won’t mean much if you aren’t.

Resident Evil is one of the original survival horror games as well as one of the most beloved. If there’s one game to top it, it would be Resident Evil 2. As the most fondly remembered of the series, RE2 had an amazing soundtrack, tense gameplay, and tons more zombies and creatures of the night. As S.D. Perry had already begun bringing the events of the games into print, it was only a matter of time before she covered the smash hit sequel. After a dismal original story that was Caliban cove, Perry returns to Raccoon City.

The story follows Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield as they stumble across one another in the zombie infested remnants of Raccoon City. The pair are quickly separated again however, and Leon finds himself meeting a beautiful and mysterious woman who seems to know more than she’ll admit about the situation. Together they brave the ruins of the Raccoon Police Department building as a strange self replicating creature hunts them. Meanwhile, Claire comes across a young survivor, Sherry Birkin, who has been hiding in the RPD building since the outbreak began. Together they try to evade a giant in a trench coat that Claire has dubbed “Mr. X”, as he stalks them.

The obvious strengths of this book lie in it’s respect for the source material. Personally, I was thrilled to have relived that infamous opening cinematic as it was recounted almost shot for shot. Many unforgettable moments from the games are brought to life in the book. The creatures from the game are also brought in. This gives the book more an authentic Resident Evil feel than Caliban cove. Then again just about anything is more authentic than zombies with fucking guns. Of all the creatures, the most effective was Mr. X. Even the mutating, self replicating G Virus monster who serves as a final boss in the game takes a backseat to the seemingly invincible giant. Many of his scenes felt very evocative of The Terminator series, none more so than a showdown in a steel mill like setting. Another favorite of mine was the lickers, who make a brief but creepy appearance.

Aside from the recreations of great scenes from the game, and the use of several great characters and monsters, this book had little else going for it. Perry loves changing perspectives between all her characters and villains, which in The Umbrella Conspiracy helped build some tension. In this book however, it just serves to maul the pacing. She changes perspective so much that Leon never becomes more than “the rookie cop survivor”. The love story that blossoms between Leon and his mysterious friend Ada, that Perry tries to build behind the gore and madness on center stage, also feels weak and uninteresting. Without spoiling too much, here’s a fully confident and professional woman who meets an attractive and honest man, who suddenly and inexplicably becomes a whining teenage girl in her thoughts. The same happens to Leon, but seeing as he never grows out of his rookie shoes, the transition is less jarring. Claire is treated with a little more respect, as she becomes a mother figure to the young Sherry Birkin. The interactions between Sherry and Claire are heartwarming, and some of the better moments of characterization in the book. The book could have been a lot better if Perry just focused on those two relationships instead of adding a mad scientist and a violently insane pedophile of a police chief.

Resident Evil: City of the Dead is another loving recreation of a great game, clearly written by a fan of the series. It benefits from it’s connection to the source material. It falls apart however, when Perry tries to add elements and explanations for actions of characters that are only in the game for mere seconds. In spite of it’s flaws it is almost right on the level with the first book and (thankfully) leagues ahead of the second.

Score: 7.0

No comments:

Post a Comment