If you saw a book that was a novelization of a film would just you roll your eyes and walk away? I would and I have many times. When I look at the aforementioned hypothetical book I ask myself, “who would want to read the story when they could just watch the stinkin movie and finish in a hour and a half?” Besides reading is hard.
Well in 1979 during the dark of the night the movie Alien swept in and devoured the box offices. The 11 million dollar budgeted film raked in over 200 million exceeding all expectations. Like the proverbial facehugger Alien was implanted into the heart of sci-fi fans all over the world. Of course the infected souls desired more and part of that need was fulfilled by author Alan Dean Foster a few months after the movie had been released, the novelization of Alien was born.
The book starts off slow, introducing each crew member while in their cryopods. As the crew slumbers in deep space travel the computer program Mother picks up a distress call and awakens her passengers. The crew moves in to investigate. Halfway through the book the crew meets their first Xenomorph and death ensues. The story sounds very familiar because it stays relatively close to the film, but for the die hard fans of the film there are also a lot of differences.
From what research I was able to do, many of the differences between film and book stem from the original script or the parts that ended on the cutting room floor. For example, in the book alien is birthed with arms and legs, Ridley Scott had designed the creature with limbs but removed them at the last moment for the film. This change wouldn’t be considered a huge difference and I feel doesn’t take anything away from the original film. In many cases the book adds to the film as parts of the story are clarified.
For example, when the beheaded android Ash is being interrogated about the distress call a lot more information is revealed tying the story together better. Ash gives small history of the Alien and how it arrived at LV-426. This scene although long really helps create a greater sense of the crew being nothing but a replaceable cog in the machine of the Company.
So, is it true that when you scream in space no one can hear you? Science says no but my wife sure heard me scream while I devoured this book. I am a huge fan of the sci-fi and horror genres but surprisingly I have to say I was not a fan of the Alien series. The whole story arch and bursting chests hold little interest for me. Why then would I read this book? The answer is the same one every child says to mom during the summer. I’m bored.
Despite never seeing the film before the book, and as a true Couch Cruncher nerd, I knew all of the major plot points and spoilers. Even with knowing all of these spoilers I loved this book and tried to anticipate how Alan would present the issues and how he would word the resolutions. I have to say that Alan handled the story perfectly. This blockbuster of a movie is not a super fast paced film leaving a lot of discussion and down time for the characters as they fight for their lives. Another strength Alan has in this book is that he is not just giving you a direct scene by scene shot of the film. The book gives you poetic-like descriptions and spine tingling encounters with the alien.
All things considered this book is an excellent read. It is because of this book that I have become heavily interested in the Alien franchise. Whether you are looking for a good read or for more information on the Alien universe pick the book up or listen to the audio book, you won’t be disappointed.
5 out of 5 Couch Cushions