by John Shirley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Doom / 9781416524106
If there's anything I enjoy as a guilty pleasure more than B-list video-game-inspired movies, it's *novelizations* of B-list video-game-inspired movies. "Doom" by John Shirley does the best it can with the screenplay for the fairly lukewarm movie, but the flaws haven't been shined away entirely.
So what is done well here? The character of John "Reaper" Grimm carries the plot here as bravely as he did in the movie: his personal demons stemming from his childhood and the death of his parents is delved into more deeply and to good effect. The interplay between John and his sister Samantha is also extremely well done, and Shirley does a very good job of showcasing realistic sibling rivalry alongside the ties of family loyalty. The wet, sticky, icky horror of the movie carries over nicely, although the horror climaxes in the first chapter and then steadily decreases (in my opinion) as the guys with guns show up. Still, as a horror/scifi novel, it's a good showing and I can't complain too much.
Whether or not you enjoy the novel will depend a lot on your tolerance for camp. The novel dumps a barrel full of marines onto the scene and then decides to characterize them later on when it can work it in, and whenever the horror action grinds to a literal halt to fill in a marine's backstory with pages of childhood flashbacks, it's a pretty good bet that his number is about to be up. Classic TV Tropes RetIrony material here, and I partly enjoyed it, but there's a flashback VERY late in the novel that goes on for pages and it strained the limits of my patience -- you can't decide to characterize someone 85% into the novel just because you've decided their card is up and expect the reader to go along with the ride.
"Doom" definitely isn't going to stand the test of time with statements that were already out-of-date when the screenplay came out and which are repeated here, such as Samantha Grimm's ignorance of the Human Genome project and I'm pretty sure that "identical" isn't an option for mixed-sex twins -- something she fails to mention as what would have been a good come-back. Even so, I found myself occasionally charmed by the characters and dialogue, especially the John/Sam and Duke/Sam scenes.
It's worth noting that I purchased this book as an eBook and at time of writing (08/13/2011), the book contains more than a couple OCR errors and formatting issues -- there are cases where quotes were rendered in the text as '???', which is very annoying. There were also several sentences where a word was missing or an extra word was added -- I have no idea if these errors are in the paper version as well as the eBook copy.
If you like pulp horror and/or B-list video-game-inspired movie novelizations, you could do worse things with your money than buy "Doom", but I do recommend finding it for a bargain price.
~ Ana Mardoll
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