The 4th of S.D. Perry’s Resident Evil books based off the hit video game franchise choses to once again tell its own story. This is the 2nd book that S.D. Perry has written that isn’t based on one of the games with the first being Caliban Cove. I found that book to be severely lacking quality missing the vital component that makes the other books so compelling.
The joy of reading a videogame novelisation is the expanded universe & S.D. Perry expands on the games within the series really well. Her own stories though just aren’t that interesting…
Underworld takes the survivors from Caliban Cove (Rebecca, David & John) & puts them with Claire & Leon from Resident Evil 2. When we first meet back up with them they are involved in a shootout on the road with Umbrella agents. They manage to give them the slip before boarding a private plane bound for Europe where they will meet up with the rest of S.T.A.R.S.
That plan changes when the ‘still’ mysterious Trent appears on their plane & tells them of a facility in Utah run by a man called Reston, who is only one of three Umbrella operatives who have a codebook which allows access to all of Umbrella’s secret files.
So off our merry band of heroes go….
Getting that feeling of de-ja-vu?
What follows is a so-so story that really doesn’t add anything new or fresh to the Resident Evil universe. Reading a book like this knowing exactly where the universe has gone (Resident Evil 5, 6, Revelations etc.) makes it an even more difficult read.
Once again the focus is put on the non-canon characters…John, David & the new Umbrella baddie, Reston who at least differs from the usual crazy Resident Evil scientist. The trio are lifeless & hard to picture as they go through the same motions as previous books.
The canon characters perform in un-convincing ways too…a love story between Leon & Claire is more than hinted at & feels wrong. Neither is used successfully & it’s clear the book has too many stars vying for reading time.
Rebecca is a major player again (clearly S.D. Perry is a fan) but ends up taking major punishment throughout. That wouldn’t be a problem if she wasn’t so unbelievably resilient.
The idea of this facility being a testing centre for many of Umbrella’s creations was a good idea & it was exciting to see John & Leon work there way through several different testing areas facing off against new & old enemy types. I didn’t really like the dinosaur variations & at no stage do you ever really feel like our heroes are in any danger so a lot of tension is lost.
The ultimate enemy, being a sort of T-rex creature was an interesting choice (even more so for those that have played Resident Evil 6) but seeing things from its perspective fell flat. It also exposed Reston’s poorly thought out character traits as he behaves impeccably stupid leading up to his death.
The book ends with a whimper rather then a Resident Evil bang & we get an epilogue exposing Trent’s true nature & motivation…I won’t spoilt it for you just don’t expect anything exciting or sensible.
An improvement over the other stand-alone book, Caliban Cove but still an average read that rarely excites, is far too predictable & is all over the place in regard to Resident Evil canon.
Resident Evil: Volume IV - Underworld