Just like playing the game, except without the interaction
Dead Island by Mark Morris (334 pages)
When I was growing up, the closest I got to reading a video game based novel was reading The Memoirs of Captain Sydney in the manual of the original Sid Meier’s Pirates. But with the current popularity of video games, and the back-stories within many of those games, the fairly recent addition of the video game based novel has developed. In this instalment of Hooked Gamers Book Review, we take a look at Dead Island by Mark Morris, an author probably best known for writing a number of Doctor Who novels.
If anyone has played Dead Island, then you’ll already know the plot of the novel, as Mark Morris’ adaption of the video game follows along very closely to the main plot of the video game. Although there are a number of minor variations in the plotline, the major characters and their adventures on the fictional tropical island of Banoi for the most part mirror those of the game.
For those unfamiliar with the game, Dead Island follows the journey of four people brought together in unceremonious circumstances as they attempt to flee the idyllic setting of Banoi after an outbreak of a fast spreading virus takes hold on the holiday resort. After being contacted via telephone by a mystery man, they evacuate the hotel and considering the situation at hand, they are more than happy to do so. Without the use of firearms, but with the help of a local surf lifesaver they fight their way through the infected at the hotel to the relative safety of the life-savers beach hut.
The backgrounds of the major characters are delved into with greater detail than the game, adding some familiarity to their personalities. But although you get a sense of who they are, it is the few days in which the novel takes place that defines their characters. Their reliance on each other to get through each situation is paramount to their survival.
Purna, the part Aborigine Australian is probably the leader of the foursome, having had been a police officer previously and having some skills to combat the situation. Rapper Sam B, being in Banoi as an attempt to resurrect his flagging career, Logan Carter, an ex-football star in Banoi as a prize for lending his name to a blood-donating drive and Xian Mei, a receptionist at the Royal palms Resort round out the squad. Their apparent immunity to the virus brings the unit together as they attempt to flee the effects of the virus.
Throughout their adventures, they complete (similar to missions in the game) various quests whilst trying to avoid, and when unavoidable killing, those infested with the virus which makes them zombie-like. Whilst initially having crude weapons to defend themselves with, they acquire, firstly a means of transport around the island, and secondly firearms and provisions to get them through the ordeal. Along the way, they are helped by other minor characters and they themselves help a number of unaffected people. The mystery telephone man mentioned earlier turns out to be a man by the name of Ryder White, whose wife has been infected. As well as helping the foursome, he requires their help to visit a secret laboratory in the jungles of Banoi and locate a vaccine to help his wife.
After finding the secret laboratory and helping the scientist who is developing the vaccine, the squad head to Ryder White’s location inside Banoi prison. But all is not right inside the prison, and as well as combating the infected in the jail, they also find the truth behind Ryder White. If you have played the game, you will basically know the ending, even though it is slightly different in the novel. I won’t give it away for those who haven’t.
Overall though, the novel does a good job of setting the scene and giving a deeper account of the Dead island story than the game. Also, as mentioned previously, the characters are given further depth, allowing you more of a feel as to their actions. But having said that, if you’ve played the game, then reading the novel may seem obsolete, as they follow so closely that a case of déjà vu may ensue. For those who haven’t had a chance to kill some interactive zombies in the game, then Dead Island is definitely a worthy read, especially for video game enthusiasts. It has a nicely flowing, easy to read story that leaves, as the game does, on a high note.
I’m sure that, as with the game, there will be a sequel. I’m looking forward to both.
Dead Island is in stores now
Author: Mark Morris
Publisher: Random House