Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Umbrella Conspiracy Book Review

by The World Weary

Author: S.D. Perry
Publisher: Pocket
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror, Video Game
Series: Resident Evil Book One
Pages: 288

Buy on Amazon!

Evil at Home

Book one in S.D. Perry’s Resident Evil series, The Umbrella Conspiracy, is a light, quick read. What it lacks in substance it more than makes up for with gruesome action and loving recreations of memorable scenes from the first game. If you’re a fan of the games this is probably right up your alley, if not this probably won’t convert you.

Millions of people have fallen in love with almost becoming a “Jill Sandwich” with the king of old school survival horror games, Resident Evil (or if you’re in Japan, Biohazard). The cheesy B-Movie writing and acting coupled with fun puzzles and tense combat made it one of the most talked about games of it’s time. Naturally, after an even more successful sequel and a whole slew of merchandise, the series moved into the printed world with Stephani Danelle Perry (daughter of Mr. Shadows of the Empire, Steve Perry) as it’s writer.

The first of her books, The Umbrella Conspiracy, opens just hours before the S.T.A.R.S officers get trapped in the creepy, old Spencer estate. Perry spends the first couple pages setting up back story for Jill Valentine, one of the book’s many protagonists. She also introduces a mysterious figure unique to the novels by the name of Trent. Trent supplies Jill with a map, and more questions than answers just before he disappears and the S.T.A.R.S Alpha Team is called to rescue their Bravo Team counterparts after a helicopter crash in the woods outside Raccoon City. The Alphas make it to the scene of the crash only to find the Bravos have gone missing. With no other options they begin to search the area, when suddenly a pack of mutant dogs chases them into the abandoned mansion. Now, on top of trying to survive, the Alphas must try to find the Bravos and a way out.

For the most part the book discards a lot of the super cheesiness of the game, and sets it’s own darker tone. The book is a little more grounded in a realistic feel than the game. That said, a lot of the game’s most memorable moments are fully recreated. The opening live-action cutscene from the Playstation version of the game is one of those moments, and many of the puzzles and enemies also make faithful appearances. If you’ve played the first game, or even the amazing remake for the Nintendo Gamecube, you’ll find yourself smiling more than once as you relive your own experiences from the Spencer Estate.

The book switches perspective between the four protagonists and one antagonist, with each usually having their own sections within the chapters. Later in the book, this does become a problem, as a chapter will end with one character usually in mortal danger and later in the next chapter that character will have not only dealt with the problem but have moved on. This book probably could have been another fifty pages and have been perfectly paced. As it stands it seems like Perry tried to cram way too much into the last third of the book, and it leaves you feeling rushed and unsatisfied. However, the first parts of the book are action packed and well put together.

Overall, The Umbrella Conspiracy is a loving tribute to a great game. It gets a little uneven in the pacing department, and it’s pretty thin on anything other than action, but it doesn’t get any better if you’re a hardcore RE nerd. If you’re not a fan though, it’d be a stretch to imagine you picking this up, much less appreciating it.

Score: 7.0

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