Review: “Alien: Out of the Shadows,” Tim Lebbon

Pros: Interesting installment in the series universe!
Cons: A bit straightforward at first.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Tim Lebbon’s Alien – Out of the Shadows (Book 1) (Alien Trilogy 1) definitely hit the spot. I was looking for a nice, tense horror novel, and I’m a fan of the Alien franchise. This book takes place between the first movie, Alien, and the second movie, Aliens. Yes, it does have Ripley in it, and Lebbon found a way to make that work, although it’s a little bit awkward. A mining ship (the Marion) is in orbit over planet LV178 when its two dropships unexpectedly come hurtling up toward it. One crashes, and the other clearly (through camera feeds) has monsters on it that have killed the crew, bursting out of their chests. The crash caused the Marion to shift its orbit, and now it only has weeks to go before it crashes and burns. In that time Ripley’s capsule, in which she’s in cold sleep, auto-docks with the ship. She’s stunned to find out it’s been 37 years since the Nostromo went missing, particularly since she was hoping to find herself home with her daughter, Amanda. Now she once again finds herself in the position of battling the terrifying alien creatures that slaughtered her last crew.

Oddly, the beginning felt a little rushed with how quickly the newborn aliens came on the scene. And the ending–or at least, that portion of it that’s manipulated to allow this book to happen between the two movies–is a bit awkward. I’m not sure the author could do much about that, though, since the movies already exist and he had little choice in how to make this book work with those.

It’s interesting seeing Ripley engage with this new group of people, and seeing her deal with the trauma of running into the aliens once again. Dealing with her trauma doesn’t in any way undercut her strength, which I appreciate. She can be both Amanda’s distraught mother imagining what the aliens would do to her daughter, and kick-ass Ripley taking the fight to the aliens.

There are some nice complications to keep things interesting. Android Ash isn’t entirely out of the picture yet. Ripley’s pod doesn’t have enough juice to get her home and needs a recharge. Some of the supplies the team needs if they’re going to get out of the ship and hope for rescue are down in the mine–where the miners presumably discovered the aliens. Also, there are no military-types here: it’s all a bunch of miners and science officers and doctors trying to turn mining equipment into weapons that can be used against the aliens, which is pretty interesting.

I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy.

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