Underworld (Resident Evil #4) Review

Underworld (Resident Evil #4) is a 1999 science fiction horror novel written by S. D. Perry and published by Pocket Books.  Serving as the fourth installment in the Resident Evil book series, the story follows Leon Kennedy, Claire Redfield, Rebecca chambers and their comrades who set out to the American Southwest to take down one of the Umbrella Corporation’s most elaborate facilities and its genetically engineered horrors.


Positives:

  • Good characters
  • Good action
  • Interesting story
  • Good writing

Negatives:

  • Reston is a forgettable antagonist
  • The Planet is a lackluster setting

Plot:  The story takes place after the events of City of the Dead, where former S.T.A.R.S. members Claire, David, Rebecca, Leon, and John receive information about an Umbrella facility named the Planet from the mysterious Trent.  The group then embark on a mission to put an to the Planet and the even experiments within, which are being overseen by Jay Reston.  The story itself is actually a pretty good one and it’s great to see the good guys go on the offensive against Umbrella.  The story is becomes split into three parts.  The first is Leon and John who are stuck in the Planet and must navigate its four environmental stages within the facility.  The second is Claire, Rebecca, and David having to evade detection outside the facility while trying to find a way to free their comrades.  The third follows Reston who’s following the intruders from his office.  The story is pretty interesting and fast paced.  The entire buildup for a certain event that happens in the novel does fall flat at the end, which could’ve made for a more epic ending.  Still the story is pretty entertaining. (3 out of 5)

Characters: The main protagonists consist of Rebecca Chambers, John Andrews, David Trapp, Leon Kennedy, and Claire Redfield. These guys are pretty cool, though it sucks that John and David aren’t really fleshed out enough to be on par with Rebecca, Claire, and Leon.  Would’ve loved to see more on the relationship between Claire and Leon, that doesn’t seem to be present.  The mysterious Trent appears again helping our protagonists, and there is some great information revealed about him.  Trent’s an employee of Umbrella who wants to see the corporation burn, utilizing the former S.T.A.R.S. members to attack it from the outside while he sabotages it from within. Henry Cole is an awesome addition to the characters. He is an electrician who joins up with Leon and John to take on Umbrella. And of course, he dies. That’s the Resident Evil etiquette for you. If you’re not part of the main you’re killed off. Jay Reston is a poor antagonist. He’s the generic Resident Evil bad guy with no real motives outside of being bad. When are we going to have a more well-rounded villain.  Why can’t they be like the Dr. Ashford who invented the T-virus help his daughter, Angela, from a genetic disease. All-in-all, the characters are good but they don’t stick out from the Resident Evil formula. (3 out of 5)

Writing: Thumbs up to Perry for its writing though it’s not without its share of problems.  The writing is pretty fast paced with a good bit of action packed into the story.  It does feel like a credible addition to the Resident Evil universe. The Planet is nothing to run home about. Was not impressed in the least. Resident Evil: Retribution – The Official Movie Novelization introduces a far more expansive and sophisticated underground laboratory.  The Planet doesn’t feel remarkable, doesn’t really stand out.  The mansion from The Umbrella Conspiracy and Raccoon City setting of City of the Dead and Nemesis are leagues more memorable and feel as important as the characters and events within them.  The experimental creatures also feel incredibly lackluster.  Despite their high threat level they’re not really memorable.  Pterodactyls, giant scorpions, and hunters are what the characters face and they suck.  Maybe if the fights were more extensive or if the creatures were more interesting like the tyrant in The Umbrella Conspiracy.  But I can praise the writing for the attention to the characters.  However, the writing does a great job of actually establishing how the protagonists actually have grown together as a team.  Didn’t like Reston but it was nice to see that he wasn’t just sitting in his office sipping some liquor and scheming. The writing as its moments but it is done well. (3 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, Underworld (Resident Evil #4) is a decent read and a good addition to series.  There are some good moments and the characters are awesome but nearly everything surrounding the Planet and its overseer Reston feel like a generic idea pull from the Resident Evil formula. Underworld (Resident Evil #4) gets 3 out of 5.

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