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Dead Space: Martyr (Dead Space Series)
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Dead Space: Martyr is a much-needed good omen for the future of the video game novel. A lot of other video game developers would do well to learn from Visceral Studio's careful, loving treatment of their Dead Space IP. Visceral has expanded their hit 2008 horror game into several comic books and an animated film. They seem to recognize that fans have a hunger for the universe and story they have created. And they love that universe and story enough to want to make the cross-media expansions of the Dead Space IP worthwhile endeavors.

This horror novel is Exhibit A of Visceral's careful management of their IP. They hired someone who could actually write, not some hack who spits out something that reads like a video game walkthrough with slightly better vocabulary. Hiring Brian Evenson was a terrific choice. Video game developers take note: when you want to cash in on a novel that your fans will buy, at least take a second to find somebody like this guy, who can actually write.

Martyr is a prequel to the original Dead Space, set hundreds of years before that game. The novel covers the discovery of the original Marker and ultimately gestures towards the beginnings of the Church of Unitology. Michael Altman may not turn out to be quite who you'd expect him to be, given the reverent way you hear his name used in the games and comics, but that's part of what makes this read so much fun. Evenson doesn't deliver some punched-up version of the text logs you read in Dead Space. He's made a unique and interesting story that doesn't insult your intelligence and will surprise you along the way even if you know where it has to end up.

This is a skillfully crafted narrative that is full of paranoid, horrific, violent and gut-wrenching moments. If you're a huge fan of the video game, you'll be reading this to fill in the back-story. You'll be pleasantly surprised to find that it's actually an absorbing read in its own right.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
I just finished reading Dead Space Martyr. Absolutely amazing book, both as a tie in to the story of Dead Space but also as a stand alone scifi horror book. I beat Dead Space (the game) about 3 months ago, watched the animated movie, and then found myself craving more. I read it in three days, and I'm craving more. I've never read a comic, but looks like now I'll have to jump into those to get more of the story while I wait for Dead Space 2 to release on my birthday, January 25th. Happy birthday eh?

But again awesome book, I love how it does the game justice and then some. The best book I have ever read that tied into a video game universe.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The world of Dead Space is one filled with disturbing mystery. To be honest, it is fascinating. However, when playing through any of the Dead Space games, it is easy to get confused about the Markers, the Church of Unitology, and all the government conspiracy. I know I did, which made me all the more glad after I read through 'Dead Space: Martyr'. A lot of gaps were filled, and any reader interested in Dead Space will be satisfied after learning about the events that started the rich lore we have come to know and love in the video games.

The author, Brian Evenson, is no stranger to horror fiction. Looking at his novels and short stories easily reveal that. As a result, his perturbing style of writing blends well with the macabre universe of Dead Space. After playing through both DS1 and DS2 numerous times, I can honestly say that Evenson takes the gory imagery in the games and perfectly blends them into writing. On top of the gore, Evenson captures the psychological elements that can't be missed when dealing with the Marker. I often found myself nervously thinking about where my mind would go in certain situations of the book, sometimes hours after reading a few chapters. Overall, the writing is fast-paced and very easy to read. However, it retains the feel of a horror novel in that you get that dreadful sense of a downward spiral all the way through, that disconcerting calm before the terrifyingly violent storm you know will inevitably come.

The story follows Michael Altman, the very ironic 'founder' of Unitology (does, "Altman be praised," sound familiar?). Fans of the series will learn about the origin of the Marker, how the government was involved in its discovery and subsequent research, as well as an in-depth understanding as to how the Marker affects both the mind and human flesh. Though unlikely, reading this before playing the video games would give someone a great start in understanding Dead Space. I would even go so far as to say that fans of horror or suspense would enjoy reading 'Martyr', with the understanding this is no Stephen King novel.

On that note, those expecting a George R. R. Martin-esque book will be disappointed. The plot is strong, though the book is a quick read. The character development is also well done; I found myself attached to both key characters, like Altman and Hammond, and less important ones. I felt the very real feelings of relief at some points and sadness at others as some characters met tragic conclusions.

After better understanding the universe a little more, I can't wait to see how Dead Space develops in the future. As I said before, a lot (if not all) of my questions dealing with the Marker's origins and capabilities were answered in 'Martyr'. This is essential for anyone who is a fan of Dead Space. Go buy this book -- it's just as much an adrenaline-packed roller coaster as the games.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Dead Space: Martyr sets the origin of the Marker, the Necromorph outbreak and the founding of the church of Unitology. It gives the story about Michael Altman, who is seen as a prophet by the church of Unitology. The story that is about 400 years before the events of Dead Space and Dead Space Extraction.

The book reads quickly away and leaves you wanting to play the games again. It also talks about convergence, something what, judging by the trailers, will be a theme in Dead Space 2.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book is a must read for fans of Dead Space especially those planning on getting Dead Space 2. The startling backstory of Unitology and the events surrounding the Black Marker will leave you shocked, and you will never think of the ever holy Michael Altman the same. Note this also comes in digital form if Kindles are your thing. Hopefully more Dead Space novels by the same writer will be released soon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Ok, I've never played any of the Dead Space games, bought this book on a whim one day when I was bored and have to say I was impressed! There were a few weak points in the story, and I'm not sure $7.99 for an ebook is a fair price, but I have to say this was a good purchase and a good scifi/horror read, tore through it in one sitting on a rainy day!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2014
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
I have watched Aftermath and Downfall. I have played Dead Space 1, 2, Extraction, and 3. I enjoyed the motion comic. Reading this book felt like a punch in the face, not necessarily in a negative way. The never ending threat of necromorphs goes hand-in-hand with dealing with Unitology nutjobs, and more often than not you hear something along the lines of "Praise Altman." Sort of like a meme, such as the Unhelpful Teacher Meme, you start to put a specific face (in this case a name) to your hate and frustration. Turns out we are completely wrong. I don't feel I would be upsetting anyone by saying Altman and Isaac are cut from the same cloth. Strip away the engineering suit and the work benches and they essentially become the same character, although Isaac never had a water level (you'll get it).

Martyr feels fairly similar to Downfall when it comes to the pacing, a lot of focus on people losing their minds in the beginning and a bloody roar of chaos at the end. One could translate this directly to a film and provide the perfect canvas for a franchise that could provide the horror fans so desperately want while not making it crucial to the wider audience to have played the games or know the entire background to understand what is going on. Although I imagine if Hollywood had their way Martyr would be more akin to the 2011 release of The Thing as oppose to the 1982 release. Not so much in ratings, but an introduction of how we got where we are only released years after a more action/horror movie has become a part of movie history.

Martyr is a great stand alone novel for anyone who likes drama, horror, aliens, and anything sci-fi. Sometimes you watch a character grow and you end up loving him. With our protagonist, you take someone you absolutely hated, watch him evolve into Mr. Everyman, and watch him become the hero you can shed a tear for. The details about the necromorphs are so intimate that they suddenly become more horrifying by definition than by appearance. Perfect for anyone who already loves Dead Space and a gateway drug for anyone who enjoys a great book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
I've been a big fan of the Dead Space series ever since they animated the fantastic graphic novels by Ben Templesmith and made them available on Xbox Live leading up to the release of the game. I love how there are so many stories that are available surrounding the overarching events of the series and that they all intertwine, some more loosely than others. The best part is that so few of these stories actually end where you thought they would.

Dead Space Martyr is the book of Genesis to the series and if you've passed it up so far, you're missing out. If you've played the games, even just the first one, I'm sure you've heard the name Altman tossed around. "Praise Altman!" this and "Glory for Altman!" that. I don't know about you but this only left me with questions. Who's this Altman? Is Altman their God? Is Altman some profit? Eventually in the game you find out that Altman is credited with starting Unitology, the religious basis for the events of Dead Space. But still, who is this Altman guy? Is he the stereotypical Jim Jones, religious zealot spouting Fire and Brimstone and New World Orders? Is he some profit speaking in tongues from trance like states? Is he some divine being descended from on high to usher humanity into a utopian world? Read Dead Space: Martyr and you will find out.

Dead Space: Martyr is Altman's story. Don't worry it doesn't read like a bible, it isn't even really religious. It's about a man, his wife and an ancient artifact off the coast of Mexico. It fits in perfectly with the Dead Space series. Brian Evenson does a fantastic job of translating the ever present feelings of dread from the games to print. Every victory comes at a cost. None of the cast of characters are safe or sacred. The primary characters are well rounded and you will find yourself feeling each loss and triumph they face. This is not fan-fiction, this is a brilliantly written sci-fi/horror novel by an author who both cares about and understands the source material. I would go so far as to say that even those that haven't played Dead Space may enjoy this novel.

This isn't going to answer all your Dead Space questions however. This is not the story of the origin of the Marker (make us whole again...). This is the story of how Unitology was started and how Altman is involved. While it won't answer all your questions, I still felt like I had a greater understanding of the Dead Space universe as a whole. If you are a fan of the series, even if you don't generally read, I cannot stress enough that you should buy this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Good: Great injection of psychological horror, really explains the origins of the Dead Space universe, characters are well developed, very scary

The Bad: A few dry spots, not great for fans of the just the action, not really any Necromorphs until the end

This is the story of Michael Altman. The origin story before the comics, before the animated films, and before the first game. This is the actual discovery of the original Marker and how everything came to be. The original appearance of Necromorphs and how they were brought to our Earth. The novel really gives Altman some life and also creates new and interesting characters to help this along.

The book isn't all action packed like the game with the creepy monsters you've known to want to dismember. 3/4 of the books is all psychological horror and what the Marker does to people in the their minds. This is actually scarier than the zombie like manifestations themselves, but towards the end when they are brought along it does get creepy. The book also shows a lot of how humanity's greed tends to get the best of us, and just shows what it's like to not be in control of your own life.

The story slowly progresses into complete chaos and terror and B.K. Evenson does a good job with the buildup. Just when you think the worst can happen something else happens that's even worse. Most of the story is the discovery and dig-up of the Marker at the bottom of the Chixulub crater. Evenson really has a good sense of pacing, but there are a few occasional dry spots, but thankfully they don't last very long. For a video game novel Martyr is also a good entry point for non fans of the series or just sci-fi novel fans. If you love the games story wise you will love Martyr, but if you just like the action then don't bother.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 26, 2011
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
I've only recently hopped on the DEAD SPACE bandwagon, and considering the rich and intriguing sci-fi universe Visceral Games have constructed around the franchise, I was actually fiercely hoping that EA had commissioned a novel tie-in at some point in the three years since the release of the first DEAD SPACE. Needless to say, I was very excited to see DEAD SPACE: MARTYR available. Wasn't aware of the author at the time, but I was still willing to give it a go, just to see the direction the story would take. Would it be a mindless gorefest, or would it touch on the greater sci-fi themes the games exuded so well? Turns out, MARTYR does some of both, but mostly the latter, which I really liked.

DEAD SPACE: MARTYR isn't a prequel per se, since it beings around two hundred years before Isaac Clarke and the Aegis VII Incident. But it does tell a story that pretty much acts as a foundation for both games: the origin of the Church of Unitology, and how Michael Altman became the face of it all.

It begins with the discovery of the mysterious Black Marker on Earth, buried deep beneath the Chicxulub impact crater in Mexico (created by the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs), and continues with conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory. If you've played DEAD SPACE, you'll know that neither games are all that keen on giving up their secrets, and the book is no different. Some of the answers you might be looking for will probably only be hinted at, though the book does a lot to nudge you in the right direction. What's "Convergence"? Why are people "haunted" when they're near a Marker? What's the overall connection between the Marker and the necromorphs? MARTYR won't answer these questions specifically, but you'll probably come away with a pretty good idea of what's going on.

But the main focus of the book is definitely how the Church of Unitology came to be, and it all begins with Michael Altman: a geophysicist who's recently moved to Mexico with his girlfriend. Stuck with a job he's clearly bored with, he stumbles across the location of the Marker, and purposely gets himself involved in a conspiracy on a massive scale. Through the book, Altman has to deal with many contending factors, including the people trying to get at the Marker, as well as the artifacts mysterious effects. If you've paid attention to the games, you'll know how the story comes to an end, but it's a pretty good ride getting to that point.

MARTYR is a very well-written novel. Brian Evenson does a great job of balancing horror and intrigue, while at all times respecting the property he's writing for. It doesn't read like the author took a quick refresher course on the lore of DEAD SPACE and cranked something out; it's clear that a lot of work was put into this so that fans will come away happy. It's even written to a point that I'd say sci-fi fans who haven't played the game might get a kick out of it.

If I have one criticism, it's that MARTYR briefly overstays its welcome. The story is great, but while the characters are quirky, they're not particularly deep. I didn't really find myself getting attached to any of them in the long run (not even Altman, really), but it doesn't have an impact on the book until you near the end and realize the whole thing could've done with a few dozen pages trimmed out of it. But even on its own, MARTYR has a good enough story and enough tension (including one particular scene involving a submarine dive that was absolutely brilliant) that this nitpick might not even matter to some.

In the end, I'm satisfied. This was a well-written novel that more than did its part in expanding upon the spark that set the events of DEAD SPACE and DEAD SPACE 2 into motion. I'd be all for Evenson returning to take another crack at the DEAD SPACE universe, but either way I hope we get another book soon!
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