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Alan Wake Paperback – May 25, 2010
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Best-selling novelist Alan Wake has been suffering from writer's block for the past two years. In hopes to cure it, Alan and his wife, Alice, go on a vacation to a small remote town called Bright Falls. Shortly after arriving in their cabin, a force of darkness kidnaps Alice and Alan wakes up in a car crash almost two weeks later. Trying to wrap his head around the scenario, Alan soon finds himself a target to the force of darkness, possessing the people of Bright Falls to stop him from saving his wife. It's a horror story Alan is unsure he could overcome and a mystery he seems to have written in a manuscript he has no memory of.
I was ecstatic to start the book, but, unfortunately, I am a bit disappointed. For a book that praises creative storytelling, the writing of the book falls a little above basic quality. There is a lack of detail in the narrative, not really describing the setting or the characters too well. This is also a problem when it comes to the action sequences written in the book; they lack the thrill and the tension the game had created so well. Thankfully, the last third of the book gets better, where the story becomes more complex and nearing its conclusion (which is a bit anti-climatic for fans of the game). Also, there are a few similes that I found weird (furniture floating around the room like cotton candy?).
The writing is the only problem with the novelization, whereas everything else is a plus. The book contains deleted scenes and an extended ending that are not in the game and clears up mysteries that were left to the players to solve, albeit those answers come off as anti-climatic. Even if you have not played the game (which I highly recommend doing so), you may still find enjoyment in this book because of the plot.
Much like "Flashforward" by Robert J. Sawyer, the writing makes it feel like a paperback you could buy at the grocery store for a few bucks, but that doesn't mean you won't enjoy it.
There are some comments about the story being odd, and the Taken coming from nowhere, but those people apparently forgot that the story is sort of "Twilight Zone", besides when things are going into the supernatural area Alan was already in deep s***, he just didn't remember.
My ontry true complain was the insistence on some of the description about how Alan shoot down the big Taken shooting them 3 times, that was very gamey and details like that can be polished.
This is a faithful novelization of the game's story, which is good. What little it does add to the world is interesting enough: Small tidbits about the lives of people who are turned into creatures that do the bidding of the evil Darkness. The prose leaves something to be desired, but I've read far worse video game adaptations. The dialog and narrative is cheesy and pulpy at times, moreso than the game, but it's not always cringe-worthy.
Now, I'm not saying it's a bad book. I'm not even saying the author isn't a good one. My problem with it is that the video game raises a lot of questions, and was really hoping that the book would shine some light on the story, the ending, or at least some backstory of the major and minor characters; something to add to the Alan Wake canon and help flesh out their world. But there was none of that. It was point A to point B. I'm surprised they didn't include the 100 or so thermoses that can be picked up in the game.
I don't know what happened because there is a scene early in the book that did not appear in the game and the author did a great job of describing it, creating atmosphere, and organically melding it into the story I was already familiar with. So the author CAN write. Whether he wanted to stay too true to the video game (to a fault) in order to appease gamers, or whether he was on a time limit or decree not to waver from the allowed path (i.e. invisible walls gamers are familiar with...), I guess I'll never know. But it's a shame because there are flashes of good story-telling in an otherwise bland book.
1) It's an easy book to read
2) More Alan Wake goodness, if you are really digging the game
3) Might get some gamers who don't normally pick up an actual hardcopy book to put down the controller for a few days.
4) There are flashes of atmosphere and good writing that make the long trip a little less boring.
1) Really doesn't add anything to the canon that isn't revealed in the video game.
2) Misses opportunities to flesh out characters and make the reader/gamer care about the people that are being killed/attacked.
3) Adheres WAY too closely to the game. I know Alan spends a lot of time walking in the dark woods in the game, but it's really not as exciting reading it as it is playing it.
4) Writing style is just too bland overall through most of the book; the scenes that are well-done only make it all the more obvious that the rest of the writing is lackluster.
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