Over nine long months ago I published our most recent book review for one Resident Evil: The Umbrella Conspiracy, and immediately after I started reading Caliban Cove, which is the second book in the series and the first ever all original novel based on the outstanding series of video games. No, that’s not a typo. I’ve been reading this book for nine months. Many of you may know that nine months is also the amount of time a woman holds a fetus in her womb.
That’s also a long time to read a single book; especially a 200-page book written by a science fiction author who specializes in adapting popular franchises into novel form. It really shouldn’t have taken me so long, especially considering I read the final 100 pages earlier today. There are really two main reasons it took so long. Number 1: I took it to work and left it in my locker, only sporadically reading it on breaks. Number 2: It was pretty boring.
Caliban Cove picks up just a few days after The Umbrella Conspiracy ended, and introduces the main cast of characters almost immediately. Rebecca Chambers makes a return, as do the main characters from the first book, though their appearances are only minor. Perry also introduces readers to a few new characters, in the form of David Trapp, Steve Lopez, John Andrews and Karen Driver, all members of the S.T.A.R.S. Exeter Branch team.
The story opens up with the characters, including Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield, and Barry Burton, meeting together to discuss a plan on taking down Umbrella after the mayhem the organization caused in the Raccoon City incident. Right off the bat it is made obvious that Umbrella won’t take this lying down, and it’s also revealed that they have a large percentage of S.T.A.R.S. members in their pocket when a team tries to assassinate the small militia of heroes.
From here things unfold in a relatively predictable manner as the cast set out on a covert mission to Caliban Cove, a secret Umbrella training facility and laboratory. Most of the characters are fleshed out fairly well, though they are all pretty generic and you never really feel that they are real. It’s almost as if Perry chose to stick strictly to a set formula to ensure none of the heroes are unlikeable and, while she succeeds, it doesn’t make for very interesting or memorable characters in the end.
There are a few high points in the book, mostly towards the end, but for the most part everything just seems a bit bland, and this makes for arduous and often boring reading that can be hard to get in to. I can’t really put my finger on it, but it just seems like something is missing from the plot — some key element that would’ve drawn everything together in a much more interesting and riveting package.
There are also some pacing issues. It’s as if Perry was trying to make her book long enough during the beginning and middle only to find she was running out of space by the time the end rolls around. Things get off to a slow start, stay slow, and then pick up to a great pace before events start occurring much too fast.
Resident Evil: Caliban Cove is 242 pages long, broken up into 18 chapters and a single-page epilogue that finally starts to reveal a little bit about the mysterious Trent character that Perry uses briefly at the beginning of this book and its predecessor. The whole thing comes wrapped in a horrifically ugly cover art that you’ll be sure to try and hide if you carry it around it public.
All in all, if you’re a die-hard Resident Evil fan looking for some nostalgia and expansion to the story, you may want to look into this. It is the weakest entry in the series I’ve come across so far (I’ve been through Zero Hour, The Umbrella Conspiracy and now this), and I really hope it stays that way since I plan on finishing the saga up eventually.
I cannot recommend this to anyone who isn’t looking for a bit of fanfare, however, simply because it’s really not very good. It’s pretty dry, has some pacing issues and an uninspired plot, and just doesn’t satisfy.
Score: 5.0/10 (Mediocre)