The Umbrella Conspiracy (Resident Evil #1) Review

The Umbrella Conspiracy (Resident Evil #1) is a 1998 science fiction survival horror novel written by S. D. Perry and published by Pocket Books.  Serving as a novelization of the video game Resident Evil the story follows members of Alpha S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Squad) team in Raccoon City, whose search for Bravo Team leads them to the Spencer estate where they find horrors that defy imagination.


Positives:

  • Good characters
  • Maintains tense atmosphere
  • Interesting plot
  • Great antagonist
  • Writing is descriptive

Negatives:

  • n/a

PlotThe Umbrella Conspiracy follows members of Alpha S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Squad) team in Raccoon City, whose search for Bravo Team leads them to the Spencer estate where they find horrors that defy imagination. The story is pretty engaging yet gradually unravels the secrets surrounding the mansion.  What starts out as a viral outbreak reveals to be so much more as the characters struggle to escape the mansion.  It does have some pretty thrilling moments especially when the characters end up encountering all of these mutated creatures.  Now, there are two storylines.  The first following the S.T.A.R.S. members struggling to survive while the second follows Albert Wesker, whose “cleaning” up the mess of the mansion while observing the S.T.A.R.S. members against the the B.O.W.s. (3 out of 5)

Characters:  The main protagonists are Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Brad Vickers, Albert Wesker, and Barry Burton. Jill, Chris, and Barry are great characters and it’s nice to see the dynamic between these characters.  Jill is a former thief so her skills do get put to the test but it doesn’t feel like a convenience of the story.  She doesn’t feel forced it is her resourcefulness and wit that makes her standout.  Chris is cool and kind of feels like a boy scout but he gets down and dirty when the situation calls for it.  Barry is just awesome, the perfect image of manliness.  There is also the mysterious character, Trent.  It would’ve been nice to see more about him and what his plans are but what he does does greatly influence the characters…or should I say helped their chances of survival.  Wesker turns out to be the main antagonist, leading the S.T.A.R.S. members into a battle for survival against the B.O.W.s Umbrella have produced.  He’s a pretty interesting villain as he does come off as a genuine good guy in the beginning.  But as the other characters are fighting for their lives he’s revealed to be partially responsible for their situation. (3 out of 5)

Writing:  The writing is done really well, especially considering the over-the-top nature of the source material.  S. D. Perry does a great job of establishing the characters as well as the setting, which plays an important part of the story. Also, there is her method of imploring a suspenseful atmosphere.  For those who’ve played the game, the book is a play-by-play although it does introduce original elements. One of the most thrilling moments is the beginning, the big chase sequence that leads our protagonists to the mansion.  The gore and action sequences have a clear description and the way the puzzles are designed don’t feel ridiculous.  The mansion descriptions are done well making the setting just as important as the characters and as much of a threat as the creatures roaming its halls. The interactions between the characters works and there is a bit of wit to help break the tension. (3 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, The Umbrella Conspiracy (Resident Evil #1) is a pretty interesting read and for fans of the game will probably enjoy.  The story is pretty cool, the characters are great, the writing descriptive, and the tension high.  The Umbrella Conspiracy (Resident Evil #1) gets 3 out of 5.

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