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Our worst fears have become reality. Giant monsters from the depths of the Pacific Ocean have surged forward, destroying the bastions of civilization along the coastlines on all continents. Humanity’s last stand, barring nuking the bastards and, in the process, wiping out major metropolitan areas, is to build immense robots called Jaegers, and pilot them with human jockeys known as Rangers. Giant robots piloted by the best and brightest, fighting giant sea monsters. That’s the extent of the plot for the Pacific Rim franchise.
Don’t be fooled by the easy to follow plot. Pacific Rim Uprising boasts massive battle scenes with massive effects that translate into a popcorn and soda pop hypnosis on the screen. It’s a great experience, and I recommend anyone with a little time on a Saturday night to cozy up and watch these movies. Fantastic stuff. You won’t be disappointed.
However, these be book review waters, and I be your guide. Does the big screen FX eyeball orgasm translate into a readable novel, fit to whittle away your sun-filled afternoons and lampshade nights? Aye. Alex Irvine does himself justice, and no easy feat, with Pacific Rim Uprising – Official Movie Novelization from Titan Books.
Scribing a movie made for epic visual gags is challenging, to say the least. Irvine manages to keep the thin plot readable, and the action as imaginative as possible. Occasionally the fight scenes read a little like someone describing a ten round boxing match you’ve never seen, and the dialogue leans toward rolled -in-Top Gun-grits and fried-in-Bloodsport-oil, but the bones of a good novel are there, and the story flows nicely towards the inevitable conclusion of indefatigable humanity and victory against all odds.
As your guide, I would recommend keeping a notebook handy in order to jot down notes on pilots, Jaegers (the big robots) and the Kaiju (monsters). About two-thirds into the novel, I was finally able to keep track of when Irvine was developing motivations for characters because I could recollect those characters based on their experiences. Two pilots and a Jaeger… multiplied by seven… equals a hell of a lot of names to keep track of.
I decided a hundred pages before the end of the book to just relax my expectations on understanding what drives the characters, and just enjoy the plot trajectory of monsters versus robots. After breathing a sigh of relief, I was able to suspend my difficulty and enjoy the ride. Buckle up, and don’t worry so much about the fellas and ladies and why they want to fight. It’s always the quintessential answer, anyways — to save the world.
Fans of the franchise will absolutely want this novel for the collection. Irvine flexes his creative muscles in the fight scenes and descriptions of monster killing weapons. If you enjoyed the hell out of the movies like anyone else with a pulse and at least moderate brain activity, you know the bread and butter of Pacific Rim Uprising lies in the fights and the weaponry. Sure, once and a while, some scientists and an occasional plot reference gets in the way, but mostly it’s the toughest sons of bitches on the planet jumping ‘into the drift’ and piloting a giant multi-billion dollar robot with plasma saws and rail guns against brutal sea monsters hell bent on destroying the planet.
As your guide to movie novelizations, I recommend that you grab some sunscreen, a folding chair and a few beers. Drop them beers into a cooler full of ice and find a beach. Spread the sunscreen with impunity, sit comfortably in that chair, and pop a top on a brewski and read this one from cover to cover. Great summer action!