Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Underworld Book Review

by The World Weary

Author: S.D. Perry
Publisher: Pocket
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror, Video Game
Series: Resident Evil Book Four
Pages: 256

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Welcome to the Literary Underworld

(Spoilers for the previous Resident Evil books are below).

Resident Evil: Underworld is S.D. Perry’s sophomore attempt at writing an original novel set in the Resident Evil universe, and a slightly better book than her other original, Caliban Cove. The book is not without it’s flaws however, as the plot is paper thin and the book delivers very little of the answers that it promises.

 The Umbrella Conspiracy introduced us to a twisted corporation that conducted hidden experiments with bio weapons in a remote mansion outside of Raccoon City. That book embraced the B-Movie campiness that was one of the reasons fans loved the original game so much. Then, in an attempt to bridge the events of Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2, S.D. Perry wrote Caliban Cove. The book turned out to be a disaster, as it tried to up the stakes by adding zombies with guns, but while recycling plot elements of the original. City of the Dead was an adaptation of RE2, that was all over the place in terms of plot. Now, Perry has decided to add another all original chapter to her series with Resident Evil: Underworld.

After the destruction of the Spencer Estate, Caliban Cove, and Raccoon City, the survivors of all three events link up and set out to destroy Umbrella at it’s source. Chris, Jill, and Barry leave for Europe to acquire recon on the worldwide headquarters of the vile corporation. Meanwhile, Rebecca, Claire, Leon, and the rest, prepare to join their friends in an all out assault. Midway across the Atlantic, their quest is put on hold as the mysterious Trent makes an appearance and informs them that the best way to attack Umbrella is to instead go to a different facility and find a codebook in the possession of a man named Reston. With Reston’s book, the ex-S.T.A.R.S. could blow the shady dealings of the Umbrella Corporation wide open. Reluctantly agreeing, the team turns the plane around and heads for an underground facility in the American Southwest. Upon arriving at the facility, the team attempts to infiltrate it, but a freak accident causes the team to be spilt into two groups. Now, Leon and John are trapped inside the facility, while Rebecca, Claire, and David are stuck outside as emergency reinforcements are called in from Umbrella. Leon and John attempt to carry on with the mission, but soon they are lured into a deathtrap filled with genetically engineered monsters.

Fans of the Resident Evil film series starring Milla Jovovivch might notice some similarities between the plot of this and the film Resident Evil: Retribution. Both feature an underground testing facility designed to look like various areas where the monsters and zombies would be deployed. Some might also notice how both the film and the book feel more like a video game that you’re forced to watch and not allowed to play. The story of the book chugs forward with little to no momentum and barely any tension. the scenes between Leon and John underground are weak and mostly serve to fill some pages with descriptions of monsters that are destroyed far too easily. The book also jumps between Leon’s story and the survivors who couldn’t enter the facility. Normally, I would feel that the tension of the book would be broken by this jarring switch between stories, but since there’s no tension to begin with, it detracts little from the overall experience.

Aside from being devoid of fun, the book’s back cover promises answers to all the questions that have been building in fans minds since the first introduction of Trent. Who is he? How is he working for Umbrella and trying to sabotage them at the same time without being noticed? Why does he want to sabotage the company in the first place? Sadly, many questions are left unanswered or given such a lackluster explanation, that you can’t help but feel cheated as you read the last pages. Perry tries to cram these answers into the last pages of the book instead of fleshing out a fully formed narrative. She basically just vomits out some answers after 238 pages of totally unrelated action.

Resident Evil: Underworld is another underwhelming entry in the series. Instead of having fun with the liberties that she was given, Perry seems to just churn out anything she can in a vague attempt to both please fans of the novels and earn her next paycheck. This book is an empty, soulless read that will not satisfy on any level.

Score: 6.0

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