The X-Files: Quarantine
by Les Martin (HarperCollins Voyager, £3.99, 124 pages, paperback; published 7 February 2000.)
Quarantine and Resurrection, two young adult novelisations of episodes from Chris Carter's long-running series, The X Files, feature the intrepid FBI duo of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully pursuing some distinctly non-alien matters for a change. Both stories are from very good episodes, but the 'novelisations' are sparse, no more than terse retellings of the basic scripts, with little effort to flesh out the storylines, or to enlarge upon the characters.
In Quarantine, Mulder and Scully are assigned to investigate a breakout at a penitentiary. Scully finds there is more going on than the escape of two prisoners, and that the prison is gripped by a mysterious disease, being investigated by a group curiously reluctant to give her any information. While Scully uncovers the nature of the disease, Mulder keeps up with the manhunt, which assumes more importance when Scully informs him that the two escaped convicts could be carrying the highly infectious disease.
Regeneration recounts the tale of Leonard Betts, an ambulance medic decapitated in a road accident whose body disappears from the morgue. Mulder and Scully investigate the disappearance, only to find a mystery far stranger than they had anticipated, in a bizarre story with a vicious twist in the ending for Dana.
As brief (barely up to novella length) accounts of a pair of classic X Files, these two books are scarcely more than memory aids to the episodes. The writing is kept simple and direct, with few descriptive passages, and the plotting tracks the TV script faithfully, with no deviation or expansion. As a result, the experience of reading the books is not particularly gripping, which diminishes their impact to vanishing point. If you've seen the episodes, why bother reading these pale and insipid prose versions? If you've not seen the series, this pair will do nothing to convince you of The X Files' merits.
Review by John D Owen.
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© John D Owen 1 July 2000