I don’t really care for reading novel adaptations of screenplays and films because 9 times out of 10 they will be a carbon copy of the original film with very little extra thrown in. It is my opinion that these types of books are meant for those who have not seen the film first (for all others who have seen the film then reading the book is all but useless). Very few novelizations of films/screenplays have been anything other than a carbon copy of the film but this is not entirely true of Keith R.A. DeCandido’s adaptation of the first Resident Evil film. His novel Resident Evil: Genesis takes a lot of detours from the film.
The novelization does indeed follow the film (so if you’ve seen the film you already know what’s going to happen and I don’t have to relay those events down here) but it is the first third of the novel that differs tremendously from the film. DeCandido takes all the minor characters introduced at the beginning of the film (who all die in the original outbreak before Alice and company descend back into the Hive) and gives them an entire chapter with which to give the reader insight on how they got into The Hive and why. This goes a long way in not only introducing us to these “minor” characters but more importantly they give us an insight on the inner workings of Umbrella Corporation and how it goes about recruiting its employees. These early chapters also explain how Alice got mixed up in the terrorists trying to bring the Umbrella Corp. down. In these early chapters are a lot of character bits so that when the zombie mayhem does happen you don’t feel as those you are just waiting for nameless people to die (which is how the film sometimes comes off).
The book does go into the predictable territory expected of these types of books once events jump into and parallel those of the film but there are several times where DeCandido takes the time to give the reader background on the relationships between the Umbrella soldiers (most notably Rain) and these moments are a welcomed diversion from the zombie mayhem.
The book is not without its flaws which is mostly the fact that it has to retread the events in the film but DeCandido adds enough of his own spark to make the book worthwhile for the fans of the franchise. Another added bonus is that DeCandido also writes the novelization to the sequel Resident Evil: Apocalypse so both books meld into one experience.