‘ALL NEW STORY’, the cover loudly insists in all caps. Yet this book – the third in a supposedly canonical trilogy of Alien novels, starting with Tim Lebbon’s Out of the Shadows and continuing with James A. Moore’s Sea of Sorrows – mostly retreads a lot of ground covered in James Cameron’s 1986 movie, Aliens. Sure, it chronicles the final days of Hadley’s Hope – the colony on LV-426 – by focusing on the relationships of – and between – the doomed settlers, scientists and Colonial Marines that inhabit the planet, but a hefty chunk of the book also pointlessly recreates scenes that fans of Aliens (and let’s face it, pretty much anyone who ends up reading this book is almost 100% guaranteed to fit into that category) will already be intimately familiar with.

The fact that the fate of the colony itself is already known is an issue too – and we’ve already seen at least some of the events in the Aliens Special Edition, which included a few more scenes than the original film, including the sequence featuring a facehugger that seals the fate of Newt’s father – as well as signalling the beginning of the end for the entire colony.

There’s at least one narrative surprise, but it feels awkwardly shoehorned in to give readers at least one event that they don’t already know the outcome of, one plot strand left open – but which, to date, has never been picked up on.

In fairness, writer Christopher Golden has a compellingly spare and fast-paced style that suits the narrative well, but it’s just such a bafflingly odd decision to retread such familiar ground for the final book of the trilogy.

The first was an awkward attempt to give Ripley an adventure between Alien and Aliens (which she didn’t need to be involved in at all) with a face-palmingly stupid way of returning all of the pieces to the box for the start of Aliens, then the second book took a leap forward in time to give us an original (and much more satisfying) story, that also gave us some insight as to the state of affairs on Earth in the grip of Weyland-Yutani – yet even that made a weirdly unnecessary connection to Ripley. To then jump back to Hadley’s Hope and answer questions that no one was asking just seems like a completely pointless exercise, not to mention a real step back when we had already left Ripley behind in book two.

To top it all off, there’s some seriously clunky references to the film’s dialogue – with one shockingly embarrassing example being the following:

‘Dr. Reese frowned. “Not certain, of course. There isn’t enough data. But aside from the ‘births’ of the newborn aliens, their appearances have mostly come at night.” “Mostly,” Stam echoed.’

Ouch.

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