Resident Evil: Retribution

Author:  John Shirley

Published By: Titan Books

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            It’s that time of year again - the air is getting crisp and the leaves are changing.  October is upon us and Halloween is just around the corner.  It’s that time of the year when I like to settle in with a good horror novel…or two…or three.  Not really into reading slasher novels and not being a huge fan of vampire fare, I find myself digging into my bag ‘o’ zombie tales to get my horror fix on.  This time around, I chose to read the novelization of Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth film in the live action series based on the video game franchise.

            When we last left Alice Abernathy, she had finally found the safe haven called Arcadia.  It wasn’t a location, but a ship belonging to the Umbrella Corporation where humans were stockpiled for use by the company in their cloning and T-virus experiments.  Alice, Claire Redfield and Chris Redfield (recently liberated from an undead-overrun prison) had found their way aboard, rescued the Umbrella hostages, including one bewildered-looking K-Mart, and defeated the super-virus riddled Albert Wesker.

            In Retribution, Alice realizes that this is no time to relax.  The win has been short lived and Umbrella is back on the offensive, sending in airborne troopers led by a mind-controlled former ally Jill Valentine.  The battle to retain control of the ship is explosive and Alice is blasted overboard.  When she wakes up, she is an entirely different person, a suburban housewife, living in bliss with her sexy husband Todd and her deaf daughter Becky.  At least, she was living in bliss until the undead attack, killing her husband and forcing her to flee with her daughter. 

            Alice willingly gives her life for her daughter’s safety…and then wakes up in a stark interrogation room where she finds herself being tortured by Jill until former enemy, Albert Wesker’s top agent Ada Wong, helps her escape.  As Ada explains, Alice has been taken to an underwater facility; a location with simulated areas, like Time Square in New York City or Red Square in the Soviet Union, used to show warring countries what the T-virus could do.  It was also a cloning facility - who better to send into these scenarios for the undead to feed on?

            But Ada Wong has been tasked by a very much alive Albert Wesker to rescue Alice from Umbrella so that she can achieve a destiny Wesker has foreseen.  Alice is skeptical, but having no choice, joins Ada who reports that her team will be extracting them soon.  But will they survive the extraction or will Jill and her clone troops prevent Alice from leaving Umbrella Prime forever…and if Alice does escape, what destiny awaits?

            Why did I read this novelization when I wasn’t too jazzed by the actual movie?  Well, I have read all of the other novelizations, so why not?  Besides, how much worse could the book be?  Actually, I didn’t think the book was all that bad, considering what the author had to work with.  I think John Shirley’s add ins regarding Alice’s state of mind during various situations and the side plot that never actually was a part of the movie made the book more entertaining than it had any right to be.  The scenes featuring Luther West were also fairly enjoyable.  His character was pretty cool and it was nice to see what was going on in his head during all of this.  I also enjoyed the way Shirley expressed Jill’s state of mind during these events.  After all, Jill was once a friend of Alice and it would have to be a pretty strong bit of mind control to make Jill want to fight FOR Umbrella AGAINST Alice.  I still would have liked to know how Jill got captured in the first place, but I suppose that will never be revealed. 

            Okay, those were the good points of the book, on to the bad.  First and foremost were the typos.  I’ve been noticing these more and more in books I’ve been reading lately and it drives me absolutely nuts!  Doesn’t anyone proofread anymore before publishing?  I mean, seriously, there are a lot of spelling errors and name mix-ups in this book.  There are also a few continuity issues here.  Not sure if Shirley saw any of the earlier movies or read the books, but he has a couple of things wrong in Alice’s backstory.  And why mention Claire and Chris and completely omit K-Mart, especially when Alice had a soft spot for the kid (leading me to believe that Shirley never read the books or saw the movies).

            That being said, if you are a completist and have read all of the novelizations you will want to check out the novelization of Resident Evil: Retribution.  And if you’re a fan of the movies, you will definitely want to check out the book which adds just a bit more information and behind the scenes stuff for the avid fan.  If you are unsatisfied with the series, or hate typos, you might want to skip this one.


For feedback, visit our message board or e-mail the author at talonkarrde@g-pop-net.