"Alien: Sea of Sorrows" Book Review
Written by Michel Sabourin
Published by Titan Books
Written by James A. Moore
2014, 347 pages, Fiction
Released on July 22nd,2014
Alien: Sea of Sorrows is the second in a trilogy of books that expand on the universe and mythology of the Alien franchise of movies. It starts with an introduction to Alan Decker, who we later learn is a distant relative of Lt. Ellen Ripley. As he unwittingly awakens a nest of Xenomorphs below the surface of a planet being colonized, he sets in place a chain of events which will eventually lead him to join up with a group of mercenaries hired by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation and return to that planet and use his special mental connection with the creatures to track them down and take samples for the company's proprietary use.
The highest compliment I can pay to author James A. Moore is to say that this book would make an excellent addition to the film franchise. It could rise above the dreck of Resurrection and the more slasher-bent pathos of Alien 3 and breathe the rarified air of reverence held for the first two movies in the series. It has the feel of that initial universe, lovingly mimicking the claustrophobic terror of the first film with the military action sequences of the second. Sea of Sorrows has all the right elements of its predecessors while still feeling fresh and adding to the mythos of Alien lore.
The book is littered with imagery that evokes a feeling of dread for the main characters as the acid-blooded predators slowly pick off members of the mercenary crew in their hunt for Decker. They have a hive mind, and remember Ripley, wanting to take revenge on her progeny for her sins. The caves and tunnels of the mine they hunt the creatures through lend the atmosphere a strong sense of danger and a morbid air of a trap being sprung.
All of this is enough to make me happy and nostalgic, but Moore adds layers of character development that a lot of other writers don't. The evil corporation is almost as sinister as the Xenomorphs, and is a character in itself. Its representatives are soulless and bottom-line focused to the detriment of the crew they hire. The soldiers and scientists are so much detritus to them and immensely expendable, as long as the company gets what it wants. Decker could easily be a one-note player in most expanded universe tomes, but Moore draws more out of him, instilling a fighting spirit in a flawed man, which makes him human and relatable.
Sea of Sorrows is a very well written book that accomplishes all its missions. It pays respect and homage to the Alien universe. It delivers on gore and suspense. And it manages to stay fresh and exciting despite the breadth of other materials that cull from this world.