16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The great thing about the Resident Evil series is just how cheesy and lame the stories tend to be- because that gives S.D. Perry plenty of leeway and creativity. While "Zero Hour" isn't the best example of this (even she can't work miracles), one needs only to look at "Nemesis", "Code Veronica", and her masterpiece "City of the Dead" to realize how awesome Perry can be when she's in the driver's seat. Perry's just about the best thing to happen to the Resident Evil series since over-the-shoulder firing mode.
Why does she succeed? The answers are legion with every page, but for the sake of brevity I'll limit it to three- thoughtful characterization, a versatile writing style, and careful attention to RE canon. What she removes from her stories are the largely banal puzzles of the game, and what she adds are wondrous and frightening touches that make the world around these characters pulse with life. With talent that other writers would beg Old Nick for, Perry takes these two-dimensional characters off the screen and turns them into thinking, feeling, fighting humans. And you would not believe how many ages it appeals to. My grandfather picked up "Nemesis" and not only wasn't able to put it down, but went to the bookstore merely halfway through and bought all the other novels in the Resident Evil series. That's how engaging Perry is. She's a writer who does not waste time. Each scene has a purpose, each character's response natural while still being unique unto them, and most importantly, she manages to capture the "shock-fright" factor that made the games so much fun to play.
I also applaud her for the brief but telling internal monologue she employs, which grants so many of her characters that breath of life needed to make them live on the page. Most impressively, she gets into the minds of the villains, and still manages to keep them enigmatic, sinister, and largely unsympathetic- a vast improvement over the closed-off antagonists of science fiction who we're supposed to feel sorry for without any insight into their persona. In "Zero Hour" she takes Albert Wesker, arguably the archnemesis in Resident Evil, and continues her excellent development of him as a ruthless sellout who is almost obsessed by a battle-code, cloaked in violence, and yet still fearful of the Hell he has helped to create. I hope she realizes she has a winner with this character.
"Zero Hour" is essentially the novelization of Resident Evil 0, which I personally think is the weakest game of the series. Outside of stellar graphics and plenty of fanservice shots of RE babe Rebecca Chambers, the game brings little more to offer the player, and the story, as with Resident Evil 3, laughably disgraces its own canon. Perry manages to bring some dignity back to it, but again, she can't work miracles with RE0; I sincerely doubt anyone could. Yet it turns out to be an enjoyable read, and Perry proves again that Rebecca Chambers is a character out of her own mold. Surly newcomer Billy Coen, who was a walking cliche in the game, actually turns out to be a decent male lead, and I enjoyed the relationship that unfolded between him and Rebecca- while there are some touches of romance, Perry kept their camaraderie original and believable. They make a good pair of heroes.
Ultimately, "Zero Hour" comes out feeling pointless, but the important thing to remember is that it's not through any fault of Perry's. She did the best she could, and though I lean on hyperbole here, I think it's the best anyone could have done. Would I recommend it as a first read? No. Perry's best works remain in the other books of the series. Would I recommend it to someone who wants to see more of her style? Absolutely. She is one of the most underrated authors of our time, and proves that people can take a project that is essentially glorified fanfiction, and turn it into some of the best writing of the modern age. Again, I may be leaning on hyperbole...but at the very least, Perry's writing is a captivating gem in the science fiction genre.
I eagerly await her coming works on Resident Evil. Given the wild success of Resident Evil 4 and the new factors it brought into the canon, I think my grandfather will be paying another visit to the bookstore in the future. I know I will.