Saturday, January 07, 2012

Book Review - Borderlands: The Fallen

I am a pretty huge Borderlands fan. In fact, I would go so far to say Borderlands is my all time favorite video game. So, when I saw that a book had come out I had no choice but to pick it up! Unfortunately, I more or less had to force myself to get through it. Borderlands: The Fallen is an extremely disappointing look into the Borderlands universe.

From the cover and the description one can be led to assume, as I was, that the book has the potential to perhaps be the first of four going into the history of our mysterious Vault Hunters. That was not the case. The book barely looks at Roland's history and is not even about him. At all. The story revolves around a family who gets in over their heads looking for some rumored new alien technology that isn't Eridian. The whole thing ends up feeling like a long fanfiction story where the author decided to insert himself in a corny fashion into the world and "play" with his favorite character from the game.

Not that I can assume the author of this book even played the game. The way he writes about the various Pandora inhabitants it comes off like he was provided a list of people, creatures, and places from the world so that he could write this book without actually having to play Borderlands. It was especially distracting when he messed something up, like for example, having a Badass Psycho speak when in the game they just sort of grunt madly at you. Yes, it bothered me. Yes, I am in love with Borderlands and I don't care if that seems like a small mistake. The whole book is riddled with small mistakes that make you wince as you read them. At one point the author accidentally puts a character's name in a scene that he's not actually in.

The dialogue of this book is painful. I mean, really really painful. It's hard to read. The author throws around the one-liners from the game wildly throughout the story as if to say "Look look! Look nerds! It's about your video game! See? See how they say the same things!" Roland has little to no personality, which more or less goes for the majority of the characters in the book. They all fall pretty flat and all the enemies sound the same. I had to grit my teeth to get through any long conversations.

Also, here's the thing, grim things happen in Borderlands and Pandora is clearly not a place you want to vacation. However, the video game gives you this fun dark humor throughout the whole thing that the book completely abandons. If the author attempted humor at some point, I never saw it. His story is extremely grim and barely entertaining. It does not even remotely come close to the same feel you get from the game.

Then you have to endure the ending, which turns out to be a Star Trek ending - the humans have to prove themselves worthy to a mysterious superior being who is too vague to have much real motive for anything and to save the author from having to be creative with the alien creature. (Note: That is not a criticism of Star Trek. I love Star Trek. I just think the author was using a Star Trek ending because he couldn't think of anything interesting on his own. Works great for hour long Star Trek episodes, works pretty horribly for this kind of novel.)

There is a small amount of good to combat all this glaring bad. The scenery of Pandora is written beautifully. I really felt like I was on the planet's surface every time he described the surroundings. I also loved getting a little bit of depth to why Pandora is the way it is. The author sadly doesn't take much time to go into these details, but what he shells out is very interesting and makes me wish I could know more about the world.

Unfortunately, the good does not quite balance the bad. I would love to give this at least an OK/Average rating, but I just can't quite do it.

If you are a huge Borderlands fan like me, I mean, completely obsessive about the game, then you might like to pick this up. However, it currently costs $10 which is way too expensive for what you get. Wait until it goes on sale on Amazon and pick it up for less.

Rating: 2.5/5

Rating Key: (0) Burn it with fire (1) Bad (2) Meh (3) OK/Average (4) Thumbs Up (5) Marry It

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