I genuinely think it’s a difficult task to write an ALIEN novel. It’s been done so many times and fans want the same things. So, I guess it’s really a task to be original and find a tone and voice that captures what fans really want and also to bring something new to the table.
Tim Lebbon has done some incredible work and I love the guy, but this novel didn’t work for me. I totally disagree with the amazing reviews from sites and magazines. I’ll keep it simple. In the first 10-15% of the story, you, as the reader have been introduced to chest bursting, facehuggers and dark shadows of monsters. What are they going to do with the rest of the novel? How will they keep momentum and tension up? How will they keep you in suspense? The answer… they didn’t.
In act 1 you have met the Aliens. The rest is slow and repetitive. Simply put, characters that you are not invested in or have little emotion for, walk through corridors and caves. I couldn’t picture what the writer was describing, especially scenes, and actions which is incredibly frustrating as a fan. The description of the characters ship was fine, as we have the films for reference, but outside I really had trouble picturing the scenes and eventually gave up trying. You are desensitised to the Aliens very quickly and there is little fear.
Why they needed Ripley is baffling. She is a marketing tool to get readers to buy it (that’s just my opinion). Maybe, it was a requirement of the publishers that she had to be in the novel. You can remove her and the narrative would play out fine without her. She is not needed and the dream sequences of her daughter felt like padding to fill the story and I eventually passed over them without reading.
It would have been a better story if Hooper had remained the main protagonist. He was great at the beginning and even better in the final 10% of the story. Ripley’s introduction ruined what was initially a great character, and he quickly becomes diluted. The introduction was very strong and Hooper and his relationship with his captain had huge potential. The feel of the world was there and the tone was set.