Resident Evil: The Umbrella Conspiracy
Author: S.D. Perry
Published By: Titan Books
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I have long been a fan of the Resident Evil games. I’m not very good at them, but I love watching better gamers play the games – the action, the mysteries, the storyline, all of it is very intriguing. You become quickly absorbed in the games and develop a vested interest in the main characters’ outcome. So, it shouldn’t surprise any of my friends that I wanted to check out the live action and animated movies based on the games and the novelizations of those films. And yet, I never read any of the books based on the games. Well, this Halloween season, that’s all about to change.
I decided to start my journey into the Resident Evil novels based on the video games with Resident Evil: The Umbrella Conspiracy . The first of S.D. Perry’s novels based on the games, The Umbrella Conspiracy follows the storyline of the original Resident Evil video game. In this story, a number of grizzly and strange murders have taken place and the people of Raccoon City are terrified. The Special Tactics and Rescue Squad (S.T.A.R.S.) have been called upon to succeed where the Raccoon City Police have failed.
The focal point of the S.T.A.R.S. investigation is the woods surrounding the abandoned Spencer Mansion. But when a mysterious accident befalls the first team of S.T.A.R.S. sent in to investigate the area and headquarters is unable to reach them, Alpha Team moves in. In charge of the team is Albert Wesker, a hardline Captain with a secret past; Jill Valentine, a former criminal now using her burglar skills for good who lost two special people to these mysterious murders; Chris Redfield, one of the team's best members whose friend's disappearance has caused him to experience doubts about Raccoon City's biggest monetary contributors and owner of the Spencer Mansion - The Umbrella Corporation; Barry Burton, a senior member of the team with a lot to lose should things not go Wesker's way; and Brad Vickers, pilot and not exactly the bravest member of the team.
When the Alpha Team discovers just what befell Bravo Team, it's a race to the mansion and a struggle to survive it's multitude of puzzles and traps as they attempt to make their way to safety. And all the while, the denizens of the mansion and the surrounding woods are out to do to them what they have done to countless Raccoon City citizens of late.
Yes, S.D. Perry took some liberties with the original game's storyline, creating a character who, as an Umbrella insider, helps Jill and the team discover the mysteries of Spencer Mansion. And there are some other subtle differences regarding the game play and the actual action that takes place in the novel. But that just adds something to the story, tying things together in a way that takes the game's storyline to a higher level.
Having actually seen the game from start to finish, I can honestly say that, other than those few liberties, Perry stays very close to the original game. I could actually visualize every moment in the book based on what I saw in the game and had the added experience of understanding the character's feelings and reasoning throughout the game. Perry's descriptive nature is just right - not over the top so that the book becomes too gory, but descriptive enough that you can picture the events of the book perfectly even if you have never played the game before. The story is so well written that, even if you were never into the Resident Evil games, you can enjoy this novel as a zombie horror classic.
S.D. Perry is a terrific writer who really knows the game and expresses the characters and their feelings extremely well. I finished Resident Evil: The Umbrella Conspiracy in a matter of a couple of days because I was loathe to put it down. I can't wait to read the rest of the books in the series.