Alien: Echo is the first novel to come out in the world of Alien, the movie franchise. So it’s a pretty exciting time to be a fan right now. At least, if you’re the type that loves it when movies get turned into a book series.
Mira Grant, a pseudonym for Seanan McGuire, writes the novel. She’s well known for her ability to write novels full of detailed and accurate descriptions based in a science fiction setting. If you’ve ever read her Parasitology series, you’ll know what I mean by that.
Alien: Echo is not a novelization of one of the Alien movies. It is its own unique story. And it understandably made a few changes to adapt to a new form of media. The novel follows twin sisters (Olivia and Viola) and their unexpected adventure on a colony planet.
Thanks to their parents’ careers in xenobiology, the two have gotten pretty used to getting dragged around from planet to planet. But even their experience with other alien species wasn’t quite enough to prepare them for what happened here.
Alien: Echo was a novel full of rich details and tense interactions. Fans of the Alien franchise would probably enjoy this read (I know I did), especially if they’re looking for a more analytic view of the aliens themselves.
Mira Grant did an exceptional job creating believable characters in their understanding and mastery of xenobiology. It was also an interesting starting point for the novel, allowing the characters to immediately identify and understand things about the aliens that wouldn’t be typical of the series (with a few exceptions, of course).
The extensive details provided in the novel helped to make up for the lack of jump scares that occurred. There were scary moments, to be sure, but they were different than what we’re used to in the movies. They had to be. The details helped to bridge the gap and enhance the tension.
The novel also showed the influence of the young adult genre – giving us plenty of opportunities to see the interpersonal reactions between all of the characters. There was a specific focus on one of the twins, so her perspective of events colored our understanding. In that sense, it was perhaps more emotional than previous incarnations, but it wasn’t an unwelcome change.
This novel took a lot of unexpected twists and turns. Yet looking back on it, Alien: Echo didn’t break from the mold the movies followed. There have always been extra elements occurring within the series that weren’t directly related to the aliens themselves. These revelations were emotionally impactful for the characters involved and, in some instances, even put the survival of everyone at risk. That was true in this novel, as well.
The character development, relationship progressions, and building tension were all handled really well, on the whole. One of the characters was so perfectly designed to be hated that it was impossible to avoid the intent behind his character, but I was okay with that. Sometimes we need a character that we’re not going to feel guilty about hating, right?
Watching the characters learn, struggle, and do everything they could to survive during Alien: Echo was truly fascinating. Again, part of the reason it was so fascinating was their ability to analyze and assess the aliens from a biological sense. But the rest was all due to well-designed characters.
Parts of this novel were almost painfully loyal to the Alien franchise. I’m not going to say too many details about that for the sake of spoilers. But I will say that it rang true multiple times throughout it.
Alien: Echo is not a direct novelization of an Alien movie, but it was still an exceedingly fun read. It’s probably better suited for those who like a dash of YA mixed in with their fantasy, but I don’t think it should put readers off.
I’m still thrilled with making the family all xenobiologists (or, in the case of the twins, xenobiologists in training). It allowed for a different and unique viewpoint and even gave some opportunities to overcome the change in media. It was an excellent decision.
The title of this novel indicates that this is the first novel in a series, which is pretty exciting. There was room to continue with the set of characters introduced here. I think they could easily jump to a new cast while still dealing with the situation introduced in this novel. Regardless, I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen next.
This review was originally written for Word of the Nerd, but has been ported over to Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks now that the site has shut down.
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