Novelizations and Tie-In Books - Yes, really

I tend to be skeptical when it comes to tie ins.

The quality has always been suspect, and what I mean by that is you are taking something that might work with one medium (film, game) and not necessarily work within a written medium context.

The second challenge is the fact that a lot of the tie in novels I read as a kid were basically auctioned off to the lowest writer per price, not necessarily the best quality and therefore you did get a lot of adaptations that had poor writing and poor plot developments. Sometimes I think this is due to the writer being restricted in what they can write, so they aren't allowed to flesh out any of the story, or other instances where they can write things but it can't impact the general canonical story line.

Two of the worst adaptations I've read were both video game tie ins. One for Halo, the other for Resident Evil

Halo I stopped at the 3rd novel, the first was basically a retelling verbatim of the first game. The series focused a lot on combat which was fine, but it got improbable at the end, and since I appreciate character driven stories I was disappointed that the authors weren't given more room to breath and explore.

Resident Evil was bad, I can't recall which one it was but it was an Umbrella style hunger games death chamber they got locked in and had to fight their way out of for no apparent reason and with no additional benefit aside from the fact that they'd deprived Umbrella of yet another one of their evil nefarious facilities.
 

Aqua Panda

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Some book adaptations can be a good thing. Some expand the narrative beyond what the movie can do.

For example, the Star Trek novelization of Wrath of Khan goes into more background depth over who Khan and the augments are. As well as including a number of scenes that were cut for time in the original theatrical cut. (This lead to a full blown directors/extended cut being released later.)

But yeah, usually they are pretty basic farmed out to the lowest bidder type things.
 
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Kari Kamiya

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Since I had finished it a couple days ago, I think that's why the Dragonheart novelization is kinda interesting in that aspect, because the screenwriter himself really wanted this story to come out as how he envisioned. He was rather disappointed in how the film turned out, although maybe he's not as harsh about it because of how daring the movie was back then. It was a rather costly ambitious film to make back then, they had to put in a lot of extra legwork to get things to even work at times, and the budget for Draco's animation was rather set in stone, so there wasn't much they could do even if they wanted to.

The couple of deleted scenes on the DVD are in the book which I think helps tie the two mediums together, and the storyboards further back up the original vision (Bowen's vision of Arthur was to include the other Knights of the Round Table, and he and Draco share a hug in the rain which is awesome, and the forming of the Draco constellation was much more of a light show than in the film), but the book is the more complete version, bar none. Writing has some choppy moments here and there, which I think that's always been rather typical of literature, especially for the fantasy genre, but it's kinda like reading The Princess Bride after watching the movie multiple times. The familiarity of the characters, their interactions, and their dialogue keeps you going, but now you have the added bonus of getting inside their heads. It's pretty neat, but not every novelization has this luxury of being done by the screenwriter themselves.

So yeah, I think I would've really adored having the book as a kid, but I can totally appreciate it as an adult studying it and making compare-contrasts to the finished film. I agree that movie novelization reviews could make for interesting analyses, but either that just hasn't occurred to some people (you'd think Dominic Noble would jump on that as a side segment for his Lost in Adaptation series), or it's gonna be too much of a challenge since you need to do extensive research combing through behind-the-scenes material and interviews and such to get a good idea of what the early stages of production were like and how things may have changed over time. Even looking into the résumés of those who write the novelizations could prove to be a challenge, especially since you'd have to hunt down copies that may be hard to come by if only to compare the work. I don't think you even have to be a film student or have been in the field of either film-making or publishing houses to really get a good understanding of the cutting room floor or having to make do with what you got with little wriggle room.

Which is probably why extended universe novels are as fascinating and popular as they are. Star Wars and Star Trek have been able to pull this off, how come other franchises don't do it, too? They don't all have to be sci-fi franchises.

I dunno, maybe that's just me. I should jump back into the Godzilla novelizations, then. I was liking what I had read in the first one, though I'm honestly more interested/excited to see how KOTM was handled in the novelization based on what I've read up on it.
 

Tragi-Chan

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2001 is a really interesting example, in that Arthur C Clarke wrote the novel more-or-less to give Kubrick something to adapt. So there’s a lot more detail and explanation. It’s the same story, but told in a completely different way. Not just an attempt to shoehorn a story from one medium into another.
 

jellycar

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X-Men 3's novelization was better than the damn film.

Catwoman (yes really) was amateur.

X2 included world glimpses at certain mutants (in the book) when they are all mind raped towards the end of the film. For example Psylocke is doing a fashion show when she gets hit. They could have put stuff like this in the film.
 

Doctor Placebo

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I even owned a few chapter book novelizations of Sailor Moon and Batman: The Animated Series when I was a kid, the former being based on the infamous 90's Cloverway/DIC dub
@Syaoran Li Okay boy, you gotta give the Sailor Moon Cloverway/DIC dub novelizations a proper review. Was the dialogue as hip and with it as in the show? Because I legitimately love this shit.


I remember when I was a kid I had a few video game novelizations. A Starcraft one called "Queen of the Zerg" which just covers a small part of the game where Kerrigan gets Zergified, from Raynor's point of view. Nothing special, but the author made Raynor and Kerrigan's relationship the center of the book, which was enough to give it a little bit of emotion. It was a solid "you tried."

I also had a few of those pretty terrible "Worlds of Power" novelizations of old Nintendo games. The Legend of Zelda one was very obviously based on the animated cartoon series, so that should give you an idea of what it was like. I also had the Bionic Commando and Infiltrator ones. I don't remember too much, but the Bionic Commando book's villain's were changed from Nazis to a group called BADD just like in the game, because Nazis were too offensive. It was a simpler time.

Probably the biggest thing that stuck with me though was the ending to Infiltrator, because of its jarring change of tone. Like in Bionic Commando, the bad guys are card carrying Saturday morning cartoon villains and the book had a hokey action movie tone. But in Infiltrator the main villain, the Mad Leader, is presented as this mysterious figure that no one really knows anything about. Then at the end of the book when the hero finally meets the Mad Leader (which happens very differently than you might expect, the guy essentially walks up to chat after the evil plot has already been foiled) he finds out he's this horribly deformed guy and the Mad Leader (who actually seems quite level headed and not mad at all) gives him this very calm but bitter and impassioned speech about how horrible his life has been due to being born disfigured and how everyone treated him like dirt ever since he was a child, and that's why he became a villain. And then the main character just... lets him go. Neither of them try to kill each other. Basic stuff by today's standards maybe, but for a fucking Worlds of Power book it had this weird sense of gravitas and depth that's very absent from the rest of the series. As a little kid that one moment stuck with me, and looking back on it, it belonged in a better a book.

I never owned the Castlevania 2 book, which is a shame, because based on the plot synopsis and excerpts available online, it looks like it may be the most gloriously godawful thing ever put to paper, featuring the worst shoehorned in child character ever.
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The Worlds of Power books were all ghost written, which is why the writing styles are so different between them, and they were mostly written by writers who didn't give a shit, but this one is just unbelievable. I strongly suspect that the rando who started the series, who wasn't an author, wrote it himself.
 
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Kari Kamiya

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I never owned the Castlevania 2 book, which is a shame, because based on the plot synopsis and excerpts available online, it looks like it may be the most gloriously godawful thing ever put to paper, featuring the worst shoehorned in child character ever.
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Holy shit, Dracula being physical pained by bad puns sounds like an episode of Captain N than Castlevania. This sounds amazing. So is this child character a self-insert power fantasy who got sucked into the video game, then?
 

Doctor Placebo

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Holy shit, Dracula being physical pained by bad puns sounds like an episode of Captain N than Castlevania. This sounds amazing. So is this child character a self-insert power fantasy who got sucked into the video game, then?
Basically, except instead of getting sucked in, Simon Belmont goes to the real world and gets him to come back to the game world with him.

If I'm right and the guy who started the Worlds of Power series wrote Castlevania 2 himself, it's probably also not a self-insert, but an insert for one of his sons. In an interview he said that he came up with the whole idea because his sons were interested in video games but not reading, so he thought vidya game books would get them to read. The book reads like the work of a clueless cheesy boomer trying to pander to kids, and he was a clueless cheesy boomer trying to pander to kids, so it fits.
 

Kosher Dill

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Holy shit, Dracula being physical pained by bad puns sounds like an episode of Captain N than Castlevania.
If I recall, those books had a lot of restrictions put on them for the kids' book club market. Mega Man wasn't even allowed to use guns except once on a door lock or something. So it was sort of inevitable that they'd be... you know, kiddy nonsense.
 

Doctor Placebo

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If I recall, those books had a lot of restrictions put on them for the kids' book club market. Mega Man wasn't even allowed to use guns except once on a door lock or something. So it was sort of inevitable that they'd be... you know, kiddy nonsense.
It must have varied depending on the book, because I remember Bionic Commando and Infiltrator both had guns and rockets, and Bionic Commando killed off a lot of characters.

Maybe you're thinking of Junior Worlds of Power, for even younger kids?
 
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Stardust

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The Jaws series had two novelizations. Jaws 2 and Jaws: The Revenge (no Jaws 3D, sorry). But before getting to those, I'd like to address the 1974 novel that led to the 1975 film.

Jaws is one of two books (the other being Who Framed Roger Rabbit) that, in my opinion, defy the 'book is better than the movie' idea many believe. Jaws, the novel, is cynical and uninspiring (ironic, as it inspired the film). All of the characters are assholes, rude, or downright spiteful. The scenes from the shark's perspective are interesting, but they happen less and less as the book goes on, eventually stopping all together. As Steven Speilberg put it, you want the shark to prevail because the humans are so insufferable. Finally, how the shark is dealt with is very anticlimatic in comparison to Hollywood's approach.

If you like Jaws, it may be worth a read. The contrast to the film is staggering.

Now, Jaws 2. This novelization was done during an early script, so only some elements from the final cut of the film are included. The book is not remarkable, but it does explain why the mayor keeps the beaches open, despite the last time a shark appeared. The mayor owes the mafia money is why. The shark is pregnant, which is why she is more aggressive than the previous shark, something the film does not address. It fills in some information for the movie, so it can be perceived as a companion piece.

If you need plot holes filled for a killer shark sequel, or want an idea of what Jaws 2 could have been, it may be worth the read.

Jaws: The Revenge is, more or less, the same as the film... with one major difference. In the film, the audience has little to nothing to go on as to why this shark is targeting the Brody family, but this book does. Voodoo. Yep. Voodoo curse is placed on the Brodys, and this is why the shark pursues. 'The Revenge' is because a Voodoo witch doctor has beef.

Not worth reading, unless you are a masochist.
 

The Wizard

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I'm not a huge fan of novelizations, but I've always found them interesting, regardless.

A little while ago, I was in a used bookstore, and wandered over to the movie tie-in/novelization section out of curiosity. A copy of Rocky II was on the shelf, but what caught my eye was that it was written by none other than Sylvester Stallone, himself.
I took it over to chair to check it out a few pages, and reading the narrative was like listening to Rocky talk.
Its not a problem to change up diction when it suits a character, but those few pages were nigh unreadable.
 

littlearmalite

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I own the Revenge of the Sith novelization, and as a whole, the Main Six novelizations are leagues above the movies in portraying Anakin/ Vader as a tragic villain, ESPECIALLY the end of the ROTS and ROTJ novelizations.
 

Doctor Placebo

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I own the Revenge of the Sith novelization, and as a whole, the Main Six novelizations are leagues above the movies in portraying Anakin/ Vader as a tragic villain, ESPECIALLY the end of the ROTS and ROTJ novelizations.
How are the sequel trilogy novelizations though?:cunningpepe:
 

littlearmalite

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How are the sequel trilogy novelizations though?:cunningpepe:
I have no idea if they have novelizations but I can tell you without the shadow of a doubt that all of them, if they exist, will be shit.

How do you surpass the Vader monologue from the end of ROTS?



"You remember the dragon that you brought Vader forth from your heart to slay. You remember the cold venom in Vader's blood. You remember the furnace of Vader's fury, and the black hatred of seizing her throat to silence her lying mouth—and there is one blazing moment in which you finally understand that there was no dragon. That there was no Vader. That there was only you. Only Anakin Skywalker."

"That it was all you. Is you. Only you."

"You did it. You killed her."

"You killed her because, finally, when you could have saved her, when you could have gone away with her, when you could have been thinking about her, you were only thinking about yourself... it is in this blazing moment that you finally understand the trap of the dark side, the final cruelty of the Sith—because now your self is all you will ever have."

I'd like to see them TRY to pull anything this meaningful from fucking Rise of Skywalker
 

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I recall the Worlds Of Power for Blaster Master being not awful.
 

neverendingmidi

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I have no idea if they have novelizations but I can tell you without the shadow of a doubt that all of them, if they exist, will be shit.

How do you surpass the Vader monologue from the end of ROTS?



"You remember the dragon that you brought Vader forth from your heart to slay. You remember the cold venom in Vader's blood. You remember the furnace of Vader's fury, and the black hatred of seizing her throat to silence her lying mouth—and there is one blazing moment in which you finally understand that there was no dragon. That there was no Vader. That there was only you. Only Anakin Skywalker."

"That it was all you. Is you. Only you."

"You did it. You killed her."

"You killed her because, finally, when you could have saved her, when you could have gone away with her, when you could have been thinking about her, you were only thinking about yourself... it is in this blazing moment that you finally understand the trap of the dark side, the final cruelty of the Sith—because now your self is all you will ever have."

I'd like to see them TRY to pull anything this meaningful from fucking Rise of Skywalker
I just find it funny that the prequel novelizations came out a month or so before the movie, TFA's novelization came out the same day as the movie, and both TLJ and ROS came out months after the movies to try and spackle some of the plot holes in both movies.
 
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