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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The first book is much better, May 4, 2010
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This review is from: Doom: Hell On Earth (Mass Market Paperback)
As a life long DOOM fan I finally got round to reading the first two books in the original series of novels based on the games- DOOM & DOOM II: Hell on Earth. Credited as being co authored by Dafydd ab Hugh & Brad Linaweaver and first published in 1995 by Pocket Star Books.

The first book- Knee Deep in the Dead, named after the first episode of the original game is pretty good for a literary videogame adaptation aimed at youths. It follows the games plot to a T- battling the demons, teleporting from one Mars moon to the next, only slightly differing by adding in a side kick marine (one Arlene Sanders) to our hero's aid (named Fly Taggart) that, and well the other main difference is that in the end the authors wimp out on sending our two heroes to Hell itself and instead they travel down a hyperspace tunnel after defeating the Cyberdemon on Deimos and into the bowls of the moon and what they dismiss as a simulation of Hell.

Also the ending differs in that instead of `Hell' opening up a doorway back to Earth once the marines have defeated the Spider Demon Mastermind, it turns out Deimos has been used as a space ship by the invaders and now sits within Earth's orbit. The book ends with our hero's facing the problem of how to get back to the invaded Earth. Despite the deviations from the source, reading through KDITD is vastly enjoyable for the DOOM fanboy as it is mostly faithful to the game and a number of sections from the game are vividly described and elaborated upon. For the best sense of immersion replay the game then read the book.

Book two: Hell on Earth- does not fare as well and has little semblance to the game DOOM II: Hell on Earth on which it is supposedly based. The first 30 plus pages see our heroes stranded on the Deimos moon base building a rocket to get home. A task that would not have been necessary had they been presented with a doorway back to Earth by the invaders once they had defeated the Spider Demon as happens in the first game. This section is boring to read and you get the feeling this was done by the authors to soak up some pages and draw out the plot.

Once they have constructed the rocket and land back on US soil (Salt Lake City) they are captured by one Albert Gallatin an ex marine & Mormon and then taken to the President of the Mormon church where they learn the government has sold out and is working with the invaders. SLC is one of the few pockets of human resistance left and after our heroes recall their battle on the Martian moons to the President, he puts together a strike team of Fly, Arlene, Albert and one 14 yr old computer genius- Jill and sets them off on the mission of disabling the alien force fields that surround Los Angeles, capturing vital alien intelligence and then delivering it to a military resistance base in Hawaii.

Aside from disabling the force fields, all of this has little semblance to the plot of DOOM II. The authors seem to have a hard ons for religion as our hero Fly often recalls his catholic upbringing with nuns, while Albert references passages from the Mormon scriptures and there are even a few conversations about religion tossed in. All this in a book based on a videogame that contained zero religious references. A game which on the contrary, had nothing to do with religion and in fact seemed to represent the total opposite of religion, that being rebellion & liberation and which was even labeled Satanic by the media of the time.

What with the religious themes going on- Mormon's being one of the last pockets of human resistance after the governments and most of the military have sold out, and Hell never actually being visited, you do get the feeling that after the first book, the authors decided to use the monsters and rough theme of DOOM to tell a story about their own interests (the Latter day saint movement) rather than write the best and most faithful series of DOOM novels they could for the fans. After all, the only reason these books became best sellers was because they were tie-ins to the games.

The other problem I have with Hell on Earth is that with four, eventually five main characters, it's just too much. The games are all just one guy going it alone. In the first book our hero gets a side kick which is fine, but in the second novel we have a whole cast. You get the feeling this was done to make the books easier to write for the authors, but they could have stuck with two characters and fleshed out the books with memories/dream scenarios etc. Personally I would have just preferred one guy- accurate game plots and more killing: - endless descriptions of map architecture, sights, sounds, smells and death. Maybe I'm the only one who feels that way, but I doubt it.

Anyway, I'm gonna round this up. The first book- Knee Deep in the Dead is a good read for DOOM fans and best read directly after playing through the original game one more time. The way sections of the game are vividly recalled really sticks you right back in the first game, but this time offering a different level of immersion.

The second book- Hell on Earth, by comparison is quite average as it has less killing, barely any sections from DOOM II included, and strays further outside events of the game. Also at this point since the authors try to make it more of an original novel rather than a straight forward adaptation of a very simple game that featured no character development, unfortunately this highlights the limitations of their writing skills. Essentially the characters are written very basically and never seem like real people. Instead they read like characters written by a high school kid.

As a DOOM fan I would recommend you to read Knee Deep in the Dead, and then the two DOOM3 novels by Matthew Costello- Worlds on Fire & Maelstrom. Costello himself co wrote the scripts for DOOM3 so the books are very close to the games plot and crucially do feature visits to Hell & thankfully no religious passages. In addition to this the characters in Costello's books seem much more real.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 5, 2012 11:49:58 PM PDT
I always considered the extra characters to be nods to the fact that you could play co-op in the games.
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