★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Pacific Rim: The Official Movie Novelization
Ebook, aprox. 270 pages
When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity's resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju.
On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes-a washed up former pilot and an untested trainee - who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind's last hope against the mounting apocalypse.
I know, I know, so many good books in the world and here I am reviewing a movie novelization, shame on me. Well, at least we all know who to blame.
And perhaps we should add Tacit Ronin to the list too, since it's my favorite Jaeger of all time. It's my inner bug enthusiast, I look at it and all I see is a massive praying mantis.
But anyway, to the book! I won't write an exhaustive review, because most of us have watched the movie and know all about the plot, the characters, and the worldbuilding - there's no use in repeating all of that! Now, I chose to read this novelization because Pacific Rim really did grow on me over the past year. If at first I was a little disappointed in the movie (not enough robots, I said over and over again, not enough robots), as soon as I rewatched it, I was dragged into the hype all over again. I just couldn't stop thinking about the nearly unlimited potential of this Jaeger/Kaiju concept. I might have read 90% of the Wiki in a couple of days. And then, because my thirst for knowledge and backstory was so strong, I decided to read the book. Aaaaaaand I was disappointed.
This book's main problem is the writing style. Raleigh Beckett acts as our POV character, and I'll be honest, he's quite entertaining and witty at first. There are lots of little side notes and in-jokes that make the book a lot of fun, even if you've just finished watching the movie. The problem is that... it doesn't last. After a few dozen pages, the book goes downhill, quickly turning into, to put it simply, a step-by-step description of the movie. I don't know what's the usual modus operandi for writing novelizations, but it seriously seems like the author sat in a movie theatre, watched Pacific Rim, and described everything he saw on the screen. Then, to make people pay for the book, he scattered about a few extra tidbits. Profit!
The implications of this are really bad. You see, I don't like using the old show/tell comparison, because I don't think it holds all the time, but I'll have to use it here - this book is nothing but tell. There's no emotion. The characters have no inner lives. There are no risks, no challenges, and there's no causality from one action to the other. Imagine Striker Eureka punching a Kaiju on screen. The book will say "Striker Eureka punched a Kaiju". It's just... not good enough. Oh, and there's no character development either.
The other big problem here is that the book has no structure. It doesn't even look like something that's been planned - the author jumps from major scene to major scene without bothering to set things up or pad the events. One minute two Jaegers have been lost, next minute we're running all the way to the Breach with a bomb strapped to Striker's back. About the aforementioned tidbits of extra information, I'd just like to say... I wanted to learn more about the side characters (Tendo Choi, the Wei triplets, the Kaidanovskys, maybe even Pentecost?), but the extra info I did get arrived in the shape of "official documents" and newspaper cut-outs. They were mostly worldbuilding extras, really - still interesting, but not quite what I had in mind.
Finally, I'd like to mention the ending. The ending was one of the best parts of Pacific Rim, for me. Why? Well, because the leads didn't kiss, of course! It was a welcome change, and I was really happy with it. Unfortunately, good things never last, and they actually did kiss in the book. I didn't deserve that.
So, let's conclude this. This novelization is not a good novelization, and I think it could have been. Pacific Rim is a movie that relies heavily on the visuals and little on the actual plot - Cherno Alpha taunting the enemy via banging its fists together, the boat sword, the way everyone in the theatre gasped when Otachi opened its wings.... these are moments you can't recreate half as effectively in a book, for obvious reasons, but that still doesn't mean there wasn't anything worth exploring in print. What about Raleigh's trauma after losing his brother, or Pentecost's health problems, or Mako's big damn moment where she finally got to pilot a Jaeger? How did these people feel, throughout the movie? The book could have delved deeper into the inner lives of the characters, instead of simply grazing the surface in a bland retelling of the movie. Besides, the extras really weren't worth it - so I'm giving this a two-star rating.
Now the question is... am I going to read the prequel comic? Probably. I'll most definitely buy the artbook, though.