Aliens: The Official Movie Novelization by Alan Dean Foster
Genre: Science fiction
Series: Alien #2
Publisher: Titan Books (April 2014)
(Originally published by Warner Books, 1986)
Author Info: alandeanfoster.com
Wendy’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Aliens is one of my favourite movies so this book had a lot to live up to, with the potential to utterly fail me. As you can see from those five stars, it did just fiiiine. I’m trying to read more novelizations, which means Alan Dean Foster is going to appear often on my list. I should never have doubted him. He is skilled at capturing every element that makes me love the movies, with the added bonus of the inner monologues and varied perspectives that this format grants. My only complaint stems from the latter. The book opens with an unusual perspective: that of Jones, Ripley’s cat. The peek into the predatory animal’s mind serves as a chilling reflection of what might be going through the heads of the story’s deadly protagonists, the xenomorphs, who are the only living beings whose point of view we don’t get to see. After starting the book with Jones’ perspective and having interjections of the amusing things that only cats are capable of, I found myself wishing that Jones had played a bigger role in the film, rather than being left behind in the safety of Earth (though I’m sure Jones would disagree).
Aliens is the James Cameron sequel to Ridley Scott’s Alien. Both are stellar films that work tension and survival in different ways. In Aliens, the stakes are higher with more aliens versus highly skilled marines. Surely humanity shall prevail, right? Foster’s words lend weight to the already formidable force we see in the film.
Vasquez, Frost, Spunkmeier, my beloved Hicks, and even Hudson become even more real for me in this book thanks to the little details about their individual roles, their almost hive mind-like communication when the shit hits the fan, their camaraderie, even Bishop, the synthetic, gets to shine with a brilliant sense of humour from a machine that perhaps understands humans better than it should. The slimy Burke becomes even more detestable with additional dialogue and inner thoughts that ensure that no one will ever not look forward to his comeuppance.
No, wait! I have one more complaint. Foster’s digs right into the emotions of Ripley and also Newt, the little girl who survived the horror only to be cruelly stolen from me, along with Hicks, at the beginning of Alien3. Reading about the three of them here hurt my heart in a way that can only be resolved by writing fanfic (or reading the Dark Horse comic that has since been redacted) where Newt and Hicks survive the landing on the prison planet and continue on with Ripley, ripping apart those damn aliens like the happy family they were meant to be, waiting patiently for the arrival of Alien 5.
Oh oh and also, while the movie is R-rated, the book notably avoids naughty words. So I’ll just leave this here to make up for the loss. Say it with me now…