S.D. Perry’s novelisation of Resident Evil 2 follows on from her stand alone Resident Evil book, Caliban Cove, a terrible book that really didn’t fit within the Resident Evil world.
Thankfully with the narrative already written for the game the basic story for this book couldn’t be messed up. All the author has to do is enhance what we already know & City of the Dead does it wonderfully.
As a companion piece to the game this book works wonderfully as it rarely detours from the main plot. It follows Leon’s A campaign & Claire’s B campaign with a bit of crossover here & there. Leon meets Ada & Claire meets Sherry; everything is as it should be.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Resident Evil 2 plot…we have a rookie cop, Leon Kennedy, starting his new job at Racoon City & Claire Redfield, the sister of Chris arriving in the midst of a massive viral outbreak caused by the shady drugs company, Umbrella. William Birkin, a brilliant scientist was working on the successor to the T-virus called the G-virus but refused to give it up when Umbrella came looking for it.
He was gunned down by a squad of Umbrella operatives & as he lay dying injected himself with the virus transforming himself into a huge monster. He attacked the men who tried to take the G-virus in the Racoon City sewers spilling its contents everywhere. Rats then fed on the G-virus & spread it throughout Racoon City.
Claire & Leon end up together & make their way through the police station & surrounding areas before ending up at the Umbrella lab. Along the way they will face off against all manner of beasties such as zombies, lickers, a mutated William Birkin, Mr X & many more.
What makes this book work so well is that S.D. Perry’s descriptions actually enhance what you already know. Seeing William Birkin transform in the game is one thing but reading how bone, flesh & muscle twist in the book is another. It’s really graphic stuff & reminds you that Resident Evil is a horror game at heart.
The other thing that is done really well is expanding on characters thoughts & internal struggles. In the game feelings between Leon & Ada is hinted at & pretty much confirmed by the end. Here we get to read just what they were thinking at each significant plot point.
More detail & depth to Annette Birkin is also an improvement as we see her journey leading up to her fateful end.
It’s not without its faults though…the focus is heavily on Leon & Ada’s relationship so Claire & Sherry’s suffers. Sherry comes across far too much like Rebecca with constant struggles to not be treated as a kid. Her dialogue is clunky as well & it’s never really expanded on just how she survived (although it is in there).
Ada’s constant battle with herself regarding the mission she is on & her feelings for Leon get tiresome near the end & it is clearly dragged out to coincide with their final meeting on the lab bridge.
The epilogue sees the survivors (Leon, Claire & Sherry) emerging on the outskirts of Racoon City & running into a vehicle driven by Rebecca & the survivors of Caliban Cove. It’s the kind of convenience Resident Evil fans have gotten used too.
The next book in the series is another of S.D. Perry’s original ideas called Underworld. I’m not hopeful…
Resident Evil: Volume III - City of the Dead