The 2nd of S.D. Perry’s Resident Evil novelizations sees Rebecca Chambers take centre-stage long before her outing in Resident Evil 0. The problem this creates with continuity is glaringly on show here & it is best to think of these books as stand-alone.
That being said Caliban Cove is one of two books S.D. Perry wrote that doesn’t link into the games at all & are her own ideas. It stays true to the Resident Evil formula but ends up being laughably cheesy & hard to enjoy.
Set between the first game & the second/third games the remaining members of S.T.A.R.S have met up at Barry’s house to discuss their next moves. No-one believes their story about Umbrella & the mansion.
At the house they are joined by a member of another S.T.A.R.S unit called David Trapp who happens to know about another Umbrella outbreak at a secret lab in Maine, Caliban Cove. He wants to send a team in to get evidence of Umbrella’s wrong-doing & wants to take Rebecca with him.
Rebecca’s knowledge of bio-chemistry is cited as his reasoning but it doesn’t exactly come across convincing. The reality is that none of the other S.T.A.R.S members could go as they already have plans in future Resident Evil games & S.D. Perry couldn’t mess up the continuity just yet.
Anyway…after recognising a name on the list of Caliban Cove scientists, Nicholas Griffith, a brilliant man who is also insane (Umbrella sure knows how to pick them) Rebecca agrees to go.
You might be wondering how David Trapp has all this insider information, well, S.D. Perry created a character called Trent who is all mysterious & works for Umbrella (so it seems) & conveniently gives help when the cast need it the most. He gave Trapp a pack filled with all this information all tied up in riddles as well.
The house is than attacked by other S.T.A.R.S members & the group manage to get away meeting later at Brad Vickers flat (he has skipped town). Rebecca, David & the new team (Karen – the tough girl, John – the, not funny at all, joker & Steve all make their way to Caliban Cove with the plan to infiltrate the facility, gain some evidence & get out.
Unknown to them the scientist Nicholas Griffith has gone off the deep end at the Cove & infected the facility with a new strain of virus, one that removes free-will but keeps some semblance of brain function. Meaning we have zombies that can shoot, follow instructions & even act human at times.
Caliban Cove is a frustrating read as it has flashes of quality mixed with the general murkiness of S.D. Perry’s writing style. The amount of internal monologues that a character goes through is laughable. David Trapp questions himself & his decisions constantly while Rebecca continues her ‘am I too young/good enough/smart enough/pretty enough’ to be part of the team. This book will not endear you to Rebecca any more than the first will.
The same can be said about most of the new team…no-one stands out & other than an interesting infection idea there is little to interest you & make you care about their fates.
The facilities isolation makes sense & it was interesting to see a creature very similar to one that would appear in Resident Evil: Revelation turn up. I believe this was completely accidental but also raises issues with continuity.
However, what don’t make sense are the mansion style puzzles that are littered throughout the facility. In the mansion it made sense as the Spencer family were off the deep end & this is later backed up by Code Veronica. This facility has none of that charm & feels like a bog-standard lab…so why such easy puzzles? The group are able to guess their way past sections with little explanation beyond…they suddenly worked it out.
Momentary sections indicating feelings between the group break up the monotony of the journey & one characters journey towards infection stands out as thrilling race against time.
Sadly the latter third of the book just collapses with possibly the dumbest decision any character could ever make in a Resident Evil book, game or movie. We see a facility deserted except for gun-wielding zombies & piles of dead bodies. No-one appears to be alive when suddenly they run into an Umbrella scientist who needs their help. They believe him enough to split up…shockingly it all goes wrong.
Very disappointing after a strong opening book. The major problem is that it follows its own story while trying to stay true to the Resident Evil formula. Rebecca isn’t interesting enough to hold the story up by herself.
Resident Evil: Volume II - Caliban Cove