Friday, November 23, 2007

30 Days of Night (novelisation) – review

Author: Tim Lebbon

First Published: 2007

Contains spoilers

One of the problems with being an obsessive fan of a genre is that, even when you have seen the film and were less than impressed (see my first impressions on the movie over here) you still feel obliged to get the novelisation when you see it.

You know what, however, it is really good – in fact I enjoyed it more than the movie. The very brief plot synopsis – for those who are unaware – is that Barrow, Alaska, goes into what they term the Dark once a year. A period of 30 days when the sun does not rise. Many of the townsfolk have left for the period but for those left danger is coming – vampires have chosen the town as an ideal place to hold a feast of violence and blood drinking. Sheriff Eben Oleson and his estranged wife Stella (who accidentally misses her plane out of the town) are amongst a handful of survivors hiding from the vampires and praying for the sun.

It is common for novel tie-ins with movies to perhaps go a little deeper than the film, the author given opportunity to examine thoughts and feelings not portrayed on screen. It is also common for scenes to appear that we never saw on the silver screen. Perhaps they were cut from the final cut of the film or in the script but not filmed at all. However I have never seen one go as deep as this.

In the first impression of the film, I mentioned being irked at the need to make Eben and Stella estranged in the film, something out with the graphic novel, but in this it works. Probably because Lebbon refers to it a lot and makes their reconciliation last through the novel – in many ways unknown to each other – and count points it against the invasion.

We actually get characters this time around, thoughts, fears and feelings come into this. We also see attacks on various survivors hidden throughout the town which adds depths to the story in itself. However the scene in the book, and I cannot understand why it was not in the theatrical release, was that of a polar bear sauntering into town, attracted by the scent of blood and meat. The fight between it and three vampires, the vampires making sport out of it, would have been a visually stunning high point of the film. Of course this leads me to another bonus of the novelisation – you do not get shaky camera work in prose.

The vampires themselves are only a little more rounded than those portrayed in the film. We do get to hear some of Marlowe’s thoughts. They are still shadowy and alien and the little insight we get adds to their menace. The stranger (the Renfield type character) confesses his thought that “God made ‘em to… thin the herds.”

On a downside, the novelisation does not fit in with the 30 days novels that are being produced as it maintains (as it would) the storyline changes the film introduced, whereas the novel series from the graphics masterfully maintain the storylines, arcs and characters introduced in comic book form. Nature of the beast, I’m afraid.

However, I actually enjoyed this, a nice little read. 6.5 out of 10.

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