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Serenity (Novelization) Review

Posted on December 10, 2007 by Flames


Available at Amazon.com

The novel, Serenity, by Keith R.A. De Candido is an adaptation of the 2005 film of the same name based on Joss Whedon’s television series, Firefly.

Serenity is a great story that takes place 500 years in the future filled with epic concepts such as love and war and told using conventions such as action and comedy. Fighting a war against the all powerful Alliance, Malcolm Reynolds is the captain of a group of soldiers in Serenity Valley with his faithful companion, Zoë Alleyne, at his side win-or-lose. After they do in fact lose the war, Zoë, always faithful, becomes first mate on Mal’s space ship, so wisely named Serenity. Slowly gathering his crew and doing odd jobs around the universe, Mal picks up siblings looking for a ride. The brother and sister have a secret and soon trouble ensues once again involving the Alliance.

The plot is exactly like the movie. The movie is good, so the book is good by default. It’s definitely a page turner. De Candido’s style is largely free of literary flourishes. It’s as if he literally transcribed Joss Whedon’s screenplay verbatim while tossing in only a few extras. Story-wise, I thought that the book could have gone into a little more depth than it does. However, it does elaborate a bit on the battle of Serenity. It also more clearly articulates exactly why Mal hates the Alliance and would do anything, including dying, just to make them hurt even a little bit.

The book builds the relationship between siblings, Simon and River, by showing us the letters that she sent to him while in the clutches of the Alliance and how Simon subsequently got River out of the Alliance’s grasp. The aspect of the book I enjoyed the most is how it refers to episodes from Firefly which is, of course, the genesis of this story and these characters.

The characters are, again, just as they are in the movie and only different from the show in the same ways the movie’s characters are different from those of the show. The only character that is different in the book from the source material is the Alliance’s assassin and those differences are merely in his appearance.

Strangely, I watched the movie first, and then I watched the series, and then I read the book. If I were able to experience the Firefly universe all over again, I would watch the series, then read the book, and then watch the movie. The series sets up everything very well, the book functions as a bridge between the series and the movie, and the movie is quite good after knowing why Mal is the way he is.

The book won’t be taught in colleges 100 years from now and I’m not sure it necessarily works as a stand alone piece, but it’s certainly an entertaining must-read for fans of the Firefly universe.

3 out 5

Reviewer: Jessica Thorson

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