Author: S.D. Perry
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror, Video Game
Series: Resident Evil Book Five
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(Spoilers for the previous Resident Evil books below).
Resident Evil: Nemesis is a better entry in the series than the botched attempt at an original story that was it’s predecessor. The most notable part of this book is the main villain (no, not the Nemesis creature) who is beautifully written and fully fleshed out. However, the two main characters leave a lot to be desired and the overall plot is pretty weak and plays out just like a game would.
The Resident Evil series by S.D. Perry has been a series plagued with mediocrity. The books that are based on the video games have been some of the better moments in the series, but that’s like saying that getting your jugular ripped out is one of the better moments of getting mauled by a Mountain Lion. The original stories however, have been painfully dumb and poorly executed adventures that just wind up being dull. This time around, Perry has come back to the Playstation releases as her source material.
Jill Valentine, after the Spencer Estate mission goes awry, decides to lay low in Raccoon City while Barry and Chris go to Europe to scout out the Umbrella HQ. During her time there, the T-Virus gets released into the streets of Raccoon, turning the once beautiful mountain city into a crumbling home for the infected. Now, she must make her way out of the city by any means possible. In her path lies a deadly genetically engineered beast that will stop at nothing to destroy her and all remnants of the S.T.A.R.S. Meanwhile, Carlos Oliviera, a soldier for Umbrella’s secret clean up team, lands in the city with his fellow soldiers. Rapidly, his friends are killed off leaving only him and his CO Nicholai. Carlos desperately searches for a way out of the city, and hopes against hope that Umbrella will come save him. Nicholai however is just where he wants to be. After assassinating some of the remaining soldiers of his unit, he sets out to complete his secret mission and eliminate anyone left alive who knows too much.
The Primary strength of this book is it’s villain, Nicholai. Perry effectively and convincingly creates a portrait of a total sociopath through his thoughts and feelings. His chapters stand out from the rest of the book as the most interesting. As things in Raccoon decay, so does Nicholai’s mental state, effectively painting a picture of madness and decay that is something that has been sorely lacking from the series. In contrast to this, are the weak and poorly developed Jill and Carlos. It seems Perry is incapable of having a male and female character in the same room without those characters wanting to jump each others bones. In some cases, like between Rebecca and John in Caliban Cove, it was acceptable. In this book however, it just serves as a distraction to the fact that Jill and Carlos are bland character cutouts. This is tragic, especially for Jill, who was so intriguing in The Umbrella Conspiracy.
This book lacks a lot of creativity that made The Umbrella Conspiracy and City of the Dead good adaptations of their source material. It seems like Perry was losing a great deal of steam with this series, and just started literally copying the events of the game. One instance with a giant Umbrella engineered worm plays out like a video game boss battle and doesn’t have a split second of tension building. This is true for the Nemesis as well. Whenever he was on screen in the game it was a fast paced rush to try and evade or overpower him. In the book he just kind of shows up for a paragraph or two and is rapidly dispatched. He feels less like a menace, and more like something Perry reluctantly had to include.
Another day, another lackluster Resident Evil book. As I draw nearer to completing the series I can’t help but wonder if there was a truly great series hidden somewhere in this material. I also wonder if Perry even enjoyed writing these things after City of the Dead. This book seemed so devoid of fun that it’s almost impossible for me to imagine that she did. This feels like a big budget paycheck picture and less like a labor of love.