Friday, 18 December 2015

Book Review: "Aliens: Earth Hive" by Steve Perry

After loving Prometheus and being baffled by fan hatred towards it, I decided to look into Alien novels. Which brought me to Steve Perry's Alien3 ignoring novel Earth Hive. And because of all the news and rumours about the Prometheus sequel, I was inspired to write this review.

There is a lot of hate surrounding any Alien films that aren't the first two. In recent years people have been more forgiving towards Alien3, often claiming the Director's cut is actually good. I've seen all versions of the film and I can't help but find it boring as all hell. I actually much prefer Alien: Resurrection to be honest.

The thing about Alien3 is that it immediately kills off two great characters we came to love from the previous film, Hicks and Newt. I agree with everyone on earth: it's bullshit! I can't come up with a good reason why they'd do that.

Cut to Dark Horse comics releasing a series of comics where Newt and Hicks survived, except they're named Billie and Wilks for I'm sure what are legal reasons. Novelizations are released based on them, and Earth Hive is the first of them. It's Book 1 of 3.

I enjoyed Earth Hive for what it is: a fast paced hypothetical sequel to Aliens. These books are more comparable to Aliens than the original Alien. While the original film was a slow burning horror film, Aliens was a faster paced action film. And like Aliens, this novel feels like a natural continuation of the story, as opposed to a rehash of what came before.

The author keeps the writing sparse and quick. This makes Earth Hive an easy and enjoyable read. There's no time for things to get dull in such a short novel. Especially when you're 'playing in the Alien universe. It's obvious the two protagonists are really Hicks and Newt. Steve Perry does a good job of molding a teenage Newt, who starts the novel in a psych ward where she ended up as a result of her horrible experience in Aliens.

But although Perry does a good job of setting the stage with Newt and Hicks, they still don't feel fuly formed. I think we're just supposed to know these characters already. I think the reason I feel this way is because the writing is so sparse in an effort to keep the plot moving. The relationships between Wilks and Billie works; he begins to be somewhat of a father figure to her. But it only just works. It lacks depth. The romance between Billie and another soldier suffered the same issue. It just happened so quick. And although I enjoyed the love scenes, the writing got pretty cringeworthy during them. And surprisingly graphic considering the prose feels on par with a Young Adult novel. Not exactly a bad thing.

The plot deals with Wilks and Billie on a mission to track down the source of an Alien disaster. After a ship is destroyed by a Xenomorph attack, a government group sends Wilks on a mission to track down the source of the ships that sent the Aliens. Before leaving, he breaks Billie out of the mental institute she's been in and takes her with him. Thrilling actions ensues.

The one major problem I have with Alien: Earth Hive is that it doesn't feel like the movies. Alien stories are supposed to build tension and evolve gradually. But it is based on a comic series after all. For a novelization of a comic about a hypothetical Aliens sequel, it gets the job done.


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