S.D. Perry has written 7 Resident Evil novels to date, 5 based on the game series & 2 are stand-alone new stories tying into the series as a whole. While they mostly follow the events of the games the author does delve into areas not touched elsewhere.
While having more details & insight into the series as a whole is a good thing it does force inconsistencies to crop up as the game series continued onwards. Reading these books I have to constantly remind myself that they are not canon & that the author could never have foreseen where the series (4 onwards) was going.
I am a huge fan of Resident Evil 0, coming at a time when Resident Evil was on a hot run on the GameCube. The re-do of the original Resident Evil game had been a huge success so using the same set-up Capcom came up with a story set before the very first game starring S.T.A.R.S Bravo team member Rebecca Chambers, detailing how she was separated from her team & ended up in the mansion.& new character Billy Coen.
Bravo team are on their way to investigate reports of grisly murders in the mountains & forests surrounding Raccoon City when their helicopter goes down. The team re-group & start exploring where they found a military truck over-turned with 2 dead guards inside. The convict who was being transported is missing so Bravo team splits up. Rebecca Chambers ends up finding a stalled Umbrella transport train. Aboard, she finds infested with zombies & some new enemy, a type of leech creature. She also finds the missing prisoner, Billy Coen before the train starts up.
Together they end up at the Umbrella training facility where an outbreak has been occurring & a power play between several top Umbrella guys has occurred. As well as zombies & other mutants the duo has to deal with the transformed Marcus Spencer who controls the killer leeches.
Like the books before the story is handled deftly & the growing trust between Rebecca & Billy handled sensibly. In the games there is always a reason to split up that often defies logic, in real life you just wouldn’t go wandering off alone just because it might be quicker especially with a zombie outbreak occurring.
In the book the reasons tend to be the same but the reaction of either & trepidation in splitting up at least makes it seem more believable with one character clearly being uncomfortable with going alone but not wanting to look weak. The train section was always one of my favourite bits as it is quite scary (up until the giant Scorpion bit) & the book keeps the tension high especially when they come across Marcus for the first time.
As well as concentrating on Rebecca & Billy the book also has sections that cover Wesker, William Birkin & Marcus Spencer. However most of these are just the characters gleefully watching on monitors hoping that Rebecca & Billy will meet some nasty end. Marcus’s sections are down-right boring & his arrogance shines through, Wesker & Birkin’s are much more interesting as Wesker directly acknowledges the path he will have to take next (getting Alpha team to the mansion) & Birkin worries about Umbrella stealing his G-virus.
Once Billy & Rebecca arrive at the facility the book takes a turn for the worst & just becomes like many of the books that came before. Not the authors fault as the games latter half had little originality at all. With rooms to check, keys to find, enemies to dispatch & a boss to fight resulting in a self-destruct timer. We’ve seen it all before & it does not make for interesting reading.
Perhaps the worst thing about this adaptation of Resident Evil 0 though is how tough Rebecca comes across which is at total loggerheads with her Resident Evil 1 character. Oh sure, the author tries to get across that rookie side of her & we spend a lot of time in Rebecca’s head as she doubts herself but it doesn’t feel right knowing that she will end up at the mansion acting like none of this happened.
Again this isn’t necessarily the authors fault as it is an adaption of the games story & Resident Evil 0 was stretching the formula. I am surprised that there wasn’t an extra bit added at the end to update us on Billy Coen’s whereabouts. Considering this is the last of S.D. Perry’s Resident Evil books & none of them are considered canon, why not? It would have given me a reason to properly recommend it.
By no means a bad book but the latter half drags & is all very much ‘we’ve seen it all before’. This does not take away from an excellent opening half though & the train sections are very enjoyable.
Resident Evil: Volume VII - Zero Hour