As far as I’m concerned, the Resident Evil series has one of the most engaging stories of any gaming franchise around. The characters and settings are always growing and evolving into something bigger and better, the plot is gripping and enthralling. Oh, and there are zombies. Once you enter the Resident Evil universe you will never want to leave, all thanks to the beloved and believable cast of characters and interesting plot. But a video game can only tell a story in a certain level of depth and detail.
Enter the Resident Evil novels published by Pocket Star Books and written by S.D. Perry, best known for her work on the Star Trek novels. There are six volumes in all, ranging from 0 – 5 and chronicling the story from Resident Evil Zero all the way through Code: Veronica far more in-depth than the games would ever allow. Resident Evil: Zero Hour, the topic of this review, is the novelization of, you guessed it, Resident Evil Zero, the series prequel which tells the story of the first foray into the Arklay Mountains by the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team.
From the back cover:
Sent to investigate a series of grisly murders in Raccoon city, S.T.A.R.S. Bravo team scrambles into action. On the way to the scene, Bravo’s helicopter crashes. Although everyone survives, what they discover next is gruesome: an overturned military transport truck riddled with corpses–and that’s only the beginning of their nightmare. Bravo Team is about to discover the evil that is growing all around them, and rookie member Rebecca Chambers is beginning to wonder what she’s gotten herself into.
Resident Evil: Zero Hour is told in through the eyes of multiple characters, mainly Rebecca Chambers and Billy Coen. Other views come from Albert Wesker, William Birkin, as well as a mystery character. In the games, however, players only saw the story unfold through the eyes of the two former most mentioned characters, Chambers and Coen. Thanks to the more in-depth storytelling offered by literature than interactive media, we are able to see through the eyes of these additional characters which helps to fill in some huge gaps in the plot, as well as provide peeks into future events.
Rebecca Chambers is the rookie medic for the S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service) Bravo Team. Aside from being the team’s rookie, she is also only 18 years of age, making her the youngest member to ever join the S.T.A.R.S. force. Not only are her nerves a wreck from her first taste of action, but her mission is to hunt down and capture the cannibalistic murderers that have been menacing the small town of Raccoon City.
Billy Coen is an ex army lieutenant who is wrongfully court-martialed and, despite his innocence, sentenced to death by execution for murder in the first degree. When being transferred by a military escort, someone runs in front of their path causing the convoy to flip, throwing Billy from the ride, landing without a scratch. He quickly finds refuge in an abandoned train car which he believes to be a safe haven. Upon entering he sees the place is doused in fresh, warm blood. Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fryer!
This is where the story starts to unfold. From here Billy and Rebecca meet up, place their conflicting roles aside, and kick some zombie ass. I’m not going to discuss any more of the story because if you’ve played the games then you know the locales, the reasoning behind the strange occurrences , and ending to this book without even reading it. For anyone else, you’ll find an enthralling tale wrapped in rotting flesh and decomposing tissue. Delicious.
The other characters don’t play very large roles at all and, with the exception of the mystery character, don’t even come in contact with Rebecca or Billy. Their role in this novel is really only to provide additional background information which is crucial during the following events in the story which are portrayed in the later books of the series. It is greatly appreciated that S.D. Perry included the additional characters, as it provides a deeper look inside of these characters that will later play the largest roles in the entire series, especially Wekser.
S.D. Perry does a phenomenal job of retelling Resident Evil: Zero’s story and remains very accurate throughout the entire novel. I was so afraid this book would be a poorly licensed crap-shot that I almost didn’t buy it, simply because all of the live-action films make me want to cut the throats of one hundred yawny kittens. However, I was pleasantly surprised and found my self frantically flipping through pages with a thirst to read more, even though I usually already knew what was going to happen since I played the game.
Her writing style revolves a lot around detail, namely smell. When she describes the way a room covered in day-old blood and riddled with rotting corpses smells, you may just feel a little quiver in your belly. However, I don’t feel she adequately incorporated that feeling of horror into her writing. I never really felt scared of what was to come while reading this book, but that may just be because I knew what was coming next. And feelings of suspense were also sparse, but they were there.
As far as gripes go, I was usually embarrassed to carry this book around in public because the cover art makes it look like a bad Goosebumps book. Aside from that, which doesn’t matter at all, there are more than a couple typographical errors that should have been easily edited out before the book hit the shelves.
Resident Evil: Zero Hour has 268 pages of main story, divided into 17 chapters with a 4 page prologue, and a single page epilogue and single page “About the Author.”
Resident Evil: Zero Hour is an amazing novelization of the Resident Evil prequel as well as an entertaining and well-written book overall. There’s plenty to be enjoyed by fans of the gaming series but I can’t highly recommend it to anyone else. If you’re looking for a great horror story or thriller then check elsewhere, you’ll have better luck. If you are a huge fan of Resident Evil and want to get as much out of the story as humanly (or otherwise) possible, this is the book for you and you’ll greatly appreciate the fantastic work S.D. Perry has done with it.
- Great novelization of Resident Evil Zero
- Dives deeper into the story than the game allowed
- Multiple perspectives give additional knowledge of what was going on behind the scenes
- Wasn’t a frightening or thrilling read
Score: 8.8/1o (Great)
Concept: 9.0/10 (Create a novelization of Resident Evil Zero)
Execution: 9.5/10 (Expertly retold with an added element of depth)
Entertainment Value: 8.0/10 (268 pages with prologue, epilogue, and “About the Author”)