The Alien Critic Reviews...
The Alien CriticReviews...

TAC Reviews...Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Novels

 

One evening a few years ago I was lazily hitting the channel button trying to decide whether I should just turn it off, when I flicked onto Sky One and a show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer was on. With no better options (other than switching the screen  off obviously) I decided to watch it, it had an attractive hereon who could kick some ass, and the vampires in it were cool, fun and the idea that they might sparkle in the sunlight was so ludicrous that it would have been laughed out of the room if one of the writers had suggested it. The episode in question happened to be a two parter and ended with Angel on his knees after making love to Buffy screaming in agony as his soul is ripped from him restoring him back to being the worst of the worst: Angelus. I was intrigued enough to watch the following episode and so began a love/hate relationship with the pint-sized vampire slayer…on the one hand the ideas are creative, the monsters are varied, and the supporting characters are unique with interesting back stories…on the other hand you have to endure Buffy’s constant whining, arrogance, and trying to get into a normal relationship despite continuously sabotaging them.

 

Buffy and Angel

 

The series had seven seasons and spawned the much better spin-off Angel, and whilst the show suffered and steadily declined after Angel’s departure it was popular enough to boast computer games, comics, and books set in its universe

 

The character of Buffy Summers was inspired by those horror films in which the short blonde girl gets killed in the first few minutes, and whilst a film was released it did not do especially well.

 

The TV series gave this idea its niche.

 

Like the novels of the Star Trek universe Buffy books can be either really great, imaginative and loads of other positive words, or dull, tedious, pointless and a complete thesaurus of unpleasant things I could list.

 

In this section I will take a look at some of these novels, some set in Sunnydale and focus on Buffy and her friends (some when Angel was still there and some not) and others that focus on Angel’s adventures as he fights the good fight in Los Angeles.

 

Below you will find reviews for:

 

Spike and Dru: Pretty Maids All in a Row

Queen of the Slayers 

The Lost Slayer

Heat

Prime Evil

 

TAC Reviews...Spike and Dru: Pretty Maids All in a Row

Date Posted: 05/06/15

 

Written in 2001 by Christopher Golden this book features a story that takes place in the pre-Buffy days when Spike and Drusilla were together and devoted to one another, a demon gives them the task of eliminating the slayers in waiting in order to destroy the Slayers once and for all.

 

Spike & Dru: Pretty Maids all in a Row Cover

 

Buffy books are either good or bad, in that respect they are very similar to those written for Star Trek because for every good story, there are a dozen that are either rubbish or tell a story that has largely no point to it. Now Buffy herself, whilst a strong character, is nevertheless a complainer. She bitches almost constantly about her life, her calling, her love life etc, other slayers have given up everything to follow their sacred calling but Buffy Summers wants her own life and will kick demon ass whilst struggling to get her homework done.

 

What we have to bear in mind in the Buffyverse is that we are seeing some characters that have been alive for a hundred years or more so the majority of these immortals have had lives and adventures that have nothing to do with the Buffy the whiny Vampire Slayer.

 

Unlike other books in the Buffyverse I have read, this one has nothing to do with Buffy Summers and instead focuses on an adventure starring everyone’s favourite blond haired bad-boy Spike and his bat-shit crazy girlfriend Drusilla.

 

So let’s take a look at what is going on…

 

The year is 1940 and Drusilla’s vampire birthday is approaching so Spike decides that he is going to give her Freyja's Strand. The Strand is a necklace which will enable her to see her reflection for the first time since she became a vampire. Spike and Drusilla make an agreement with an ice demon Skrymir, who is in possession of the necklace, that if they travel the world eliminating all of the slayers in waiting and then murder the current Slayer then he will hand over the necklace to them.

 

Meanwhile the current slayer, Sophie and her Watcher Yanna, are sent to rescue the remaining slayers in waiting. However their lives are complicated by the fact that Yanna has developed an unhealthy obsession with Spike.

 

If the Sophie fails to protect the slayers in waiting then it could be the end of the Slayers forever.

 

Before we move on, allow me to give you a little context to the story…so Spike and Dru: Pretty Maids All in a Row is set after Darla has left to rejoin the Master, Angelus has been cursed with a soul thus abandoning Darla, Spike and Drusilla. Although at this point, neither Spike nor Drusilla know that Angel is no longer evil. This is during the period of their lives when Spike and Drusilla are still very much together and insanely in love. Pretty Maids All in a Row is a terrific book which focuses on the world in the days when the Slayer was a lone warrior who did her duty without question and spent very little time complaining.

 

The storyline may sound familiar to Buffy fans; in fact Buffy Season 7 had a very similar premise in which The First Evil was trying to destroy the Slayer by eliminating the Potentials (slayers in waiting). Pretty Maids All in a Row was first published in 2001 and it is possible that it was the basis for the story arc of Buffy Season 7 which was aired in 2003 (however that is just speculation on my part).

 

Sophie is a Slayer who is really only connected to her Watcher. She doesn’t seem to have many friends and does her duty. Unlike Buffy she doesn’t worry about school or dating, she recognises that she has a sacred duty to fight evil and so she fights evil. There are also a couple of references to a physical or sexual attraction between Sophie and Spike (when they are about to fight there is a suggestion that they might be preparing to make love rather than fight). This suggests that perhaps Spike and the Slayers who track him have always had some attraction to one another but it wasn’t until Buffy that a Slayer actually gave into her lust and bedded him.

 

Unlike many books that focus on Buffy and the reader is forced to read page after page in which she complains about the problems of having a family, friends, dating etcetera there is nothing like that here. In episodes of Buffy I kept thinking that there must have been moments when surly Giles must want to yell at her to go and do her sacred duty like every other Slayer before her and stop being so selfish but nothing like that really happened in the show. Fortunately there are no moments like that here. Sophie is a well trained and dedicated Slayer, and Spike has returned to the vicious monster and dedicated boyfriend that hasn’t been seen since his debut in School Hard.

 

Author Christopher Holden later went on to write the excellent Lost Slayer books and knows how to write a book that gives the Buffyverse greater depth. Taking Buffy out of the story completely shifts the focus to two very popular bad guys and allows the reader to gain a greater insight into life before Buffy.

 

It is hard to do Buffy books well, but thankfully this is one of them, and so gets a Thumbs Up. If you are a fan of Spike and Dru and want to see them in their own adventure then I urge you to track this one down beacsue you will not regret it if you do.

 

 

7/10 – This is truly an excellent book that gives the reader in insight into Spike and Dru’s life together before they crossed paths with Buffy Summers. It is a lot of fun and I really hope there are other books out there like this one set in the pre-Buffy days, but sadly so far I haven't found any.

 

TAC Reviews...Queen of the Slayers 

Date Posted: 12/02/15

 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her friends have escaped the destruction of the Sunnydale Hellmouth and are hoping to have some time to rest. Unfortunately dark forces are lurking on the horizon and the Cleveland Hellmouth has now become active.

 

Queen of the Slayers Cover

 

When picking up a Buffy book you have to prepare yourself for disappointment because like Star Trek novels in which writers could literally take any of the dozens of ideas, themes, locations or the rich tapestry of characters many seem determined to write nothing interesting that adds to the universe.

 

I will usually make it to the end of the story but a lot of them are generally pretty poor, and this is one of the crappier efforts to hit shelves with Buffy’s name plastered all over it.

 

...[sigh]...so let's take a look then...

 

Okay, so following the events of Season 7 Buffy, her friends and the new slayers are hoping for a period of peace following the defeat of The First’s forces. Unfortunately for them, now that the Sunnydale Hellmouth has been sealed (thanks to Spike) the Hellmouth in Cleveland has become super active spilling out more uber-vamps and demons than the one in Sunnydale ever did.

 

Every potential slayer across the world has now been made into a Slayer and after taking the gang back to Europe, Giles tries to reorganise the Watchers Council. Buffy heads to Rome after learning that a number of new slayers have been drawn to the charismatic and infamous Immortal.

 

Meanwhile Faith and Robin Wood head to Cleveland to try and counter the evil spilling out of that Hellmouth.

 

The lives of Buffy and her friends are complicated by not knowing if they should trust the Immortal, and a rival to Buffy (the so-called Queen of the Slayers), who is trying to convince many of the newly turned slayers that Buffy is only interested in using them to gain more power for herself.

 

As the more astute of you will have realised that I do not care for this book, and now I am going to tell you precisely why.

 

The Queen of the Slayers attempts to continue the story of Buffy and her friends following the activation of every potential slayer during the final battle of Season 7. The final season of Buffy pitted the Slayer against The First Evil, and unfortunately it was always going to be difficult to tackle a story taking place after that. I mean every series built up on the threat of the previous one leading Buffy to go from Vampire Master (a vampire-master obviously), Angelus (her true love’s evil alter ego), The Mayor (a quirky political figure trying to turn himself into a pure blood demon), Adam (a man-made human/demon hybrid), Glory (a God), Willow (Buffy’s best friend during a time when she was corrupted by magic) and finally The First Evil (the original evil, the creature that spawned evil itself). Now…hopefully you are still with me, so ask yourself, where do you go from there??

 

Honestly right into a mess…

 

There are several factors about the book which will leave the audience a little puzzled right from the outset. The survivors of the battle at the end of Season 7 are in a bus racing away from Sunnydale at breakneck speed, why?? I mean the Hellmouth is shut down, there is no traffic about, the authorities are not hunting them down, so why don’t they just drive away at a nice leisurely pace?? In addition, after the Sunnydale Hellmouth is shut down, the Cleveland one becomes far more active than Sunnydale's had ever been. It makes the audience wonder why The First didn’t work to seal the Hellmouth in Sunnydale and focus its efforts on the super active Cleveland Hellmouth.

 

Also the other slayers seem to have little to no fighting abilities and drop like flies when confronted by anything stronger than a stiff breeze. In an episode of Angel Season 5, Angel had to deal with an insane slayer, at the end of the episode Andrew (guest star Tom Lenk) tells Angel that he is taking the slayer with him. To make his point around a dozen girls all walk out of the shadows and the audience knows that they are all slayers. In the episode this is incredibly cool, because like Angel we know they are all slayers and he does not have a hope in hell of taking them on and winning. Unfortunately, Queen of the Slayers makes it look as though Angel and Spike could probably have taken them (despite the fact Spike had no lower arms at the time) because they may be slayers but they don’t know how to fight whereas both Angel and Spike are experienced battle hardened fighters that could have taken all of the slayers out without even breaking a sweat.

 

It is remarkable what context does isn’t it??

 

On the one hand a cool scene in a cool series that looked impressive, but in a crap book with a crap story it just makes you realise that all of those slayers were probably in danger of drowning in their own fear if Angel had decided to fight them.

 

Nancy Holder is a writer that uses a lot of description during her novels. She spends the first 40-odd pages of the book describing the bus ride away from the wreckage of Sunnydale and a crash in which a couple of unnamed slayers die. This is basically my main problem with her. How the hell can you write 40-odd pages about a bus crash, I mean I write books, and honestly I could not even begin to imagine how I would waste so many pages on essentially nothing happening.

 

In the interest of being fair, I will say that it was not all bad. There are some tie-ins with Season 5 of Angel (that ran for another season after the end of Buffy). A highlight of these brief moments is when Buffy and Faith are discussing whether Angel has been corrupted by Wolfram & Hart and Faith tells Buffy that Angel is the only one who has never given up on her, so she isn’t about to give up on him. It ties into the bond that Faith has with Angel, and it is a connection equally as strong if entirely different to the connection Buffy has with him. I honestly think that bringing Faith into Angel would have been a great move that could have focussed on the redemption of both whilst still keeping Angel in the foreground, but I digress…It is that link that is the only good thing about this book. Buffy complains, and things are trying to kill her so no changes there.

 

Buffy novels are only occasionally considered to be canon by Joss Whedon (or his office), this is definitely not one of them, and the events seen in the canon comic book series called The Long Way Home that function as Season 8 completely undermine everything in this book which I am completely happy with.

 

This book is BORING, not Moby Dick boring, but you’ll still be sitting there reading pages and pages of nothing happening and you will just be wondering how the ass-kicking vampire slayer and her band of misfits have been so poorly represented.

 

Not surprisingly my Thumb is pointing squarely Down.

 

 

3/10 - Fans of the excessively descriptive style of Holder will want to grab a copy; everyone else should leave Queen of the Slayers on the shelf and read The Lost Slayer books instead

 

TAC Reviews...The Lost Slayer 

Date Posted: 05/06/15

 

Buffy The Vampire Slayer The Lost Slayer is set during Season 4 of the television show, and is separated into 4 volumes written by Christopher Golden. The stories focus on the aftermath of Giles’ kidnapping by a new group of vampires that worship the Bat God Camazotz. Buffy is thrown ahead five years when Sunnydale is under vampire control by the new leader of the vampires, Rupert Giles.

 

The Lost Slayer Books

 

Having read Spike and Dru: Pretty Maids All in a Row I was keen to see what the writer of that book Christopher Golden was going to give us in this story, The Lost Slayer.

 

I was not disappointed...but first let me bring you up to speed...

 

Initially Buffy, whilst in her freshman year, decides to take charge of her own life and do everything herself in order to be master of everything in her life. Unfortunately she ends up isolating herself from those closest to her, and her problems further escalate when new vampires, with bat tattoos across their faces and glowing orange eyes, arrive in town.

 

The story then jumps ahead to a time when Buffy has been imprisoned in a cell and rotting for five years and vampires rule Sunnydale. She escapes her captors and discovers that her friends are struggling against the growing masses of vampires. Faith returned to help fight the good fight hoping to redeem herself with Spike and Drusilla taking orders from Vampire Giles now.

 

All of the best characters from the Buffy universe appear and the fact that it is Giles that is the key big bad in this story is inspired.

 

The Lost Slayer books do not fall into the trap of making the first book good, the middle books more about just filling, and the last book good. Each book is as thrilling to read as Buffy plunges deeper into the world Giles has created during her absence. The characters that are so crucial to the Buffyverse are all present, and correct. During her absence the main characters have evolved, Xander has lost his humour becoming harder, Willow is a powerful sorceress and Oz now has the ability to change into a werewolf whenever he chooses. Vampire Giles’ plans for the world and for Buffy in particular all have a warped echo of the man Buffy once looked to as a father-figure.

 

Golden successfully writes a great saga which explores the world around the Slayer. Too often in the series Buffy tells everyone that she doesn’t need any help because she is the Slayer and yet the only reason that Buffy has lived as long as she has is because of her friends. She would have died at the hands of the Master in Season 1 if Xander had not been around to give her mouth to mouth.

 

Buffy’s attempts to reconnect with her friends after her absence are also especially difficult after she learns the fate of her own mother along with Anya. None of them are who they once were and all of them resent Buffy because it had been her attitude by trying to do everything herself that lead to Giles being captured and the events that have caused the ruin of Sunnydale.

 

This is how books should be written, carefully thought out, creative, interesting and evolving the characters but remaining faithful to who they used to be. Parker (remember the douche that Buffy slept with after Angel left?) he appears briefly and is one of the few people who has surrendered himself to the vampires so they leave him alone. This demonstrates that characters we saw in the show who didn’t know about vampires and the like have found ways of surviving in the new world that Giles is creating.

 

The Lost Slayer is an excellent series of books which have been approved by Joss Whedon (or at least his office) so that it can be considered canon. The notion of Giles becoming a vampire is a stroke of genius, taking Giles’ knowledge, expertise and love for Buffy and twisting them into something evil is a delight to read. I did not want to put this book down, and read it into the small hours of the morning because I wanted to know what was going to happen next...the payoff regarding what has happened to Angel is also brilliantly twisted and fits with the notion that as someone who was once tortured by Angelus, Giles would find his own form of revenge now that he has become a vampire.

 

There are many examples of Buffy books which talk about the Slayer hunting this demon or that demon, whilst she tries to have a normal life. The Lost Slayer books show that it was her own arrogance when Giles was kidnapped that resulted in the hell Sunnydale as now descended into.

 

Possibly the only downside is the ending, it is a little bit of a cop-out. This is not a "what if" story, it features time travel and Buffy learning a lesson about what happens if she continues to do everything alone. Naturally she is able to return to the past (or present depending on how you look at it) and change the bleak future she witnessed. So whilst a bit of a weak ending it is still a great story and a MUST-READ for any one who calls themselves a Buffy fan

 

This book is a treat to read, it is easily one of the best Buffy books, hell it is one of the best books that I have read. It has everything that you want, the characters are interesting, the story is brilliant and the enemy is magnificent.

 

All in all The Lost Slayer is awarded a well deserved Thumbs Up

 

 

9/10 - When done right a Buffy book can be a wonderful thing, which makes the audience laugh and makes them cry. Sadly really well-crafted stories are difficult to come by; however, The Lost Slayer is a glorious example of a story that could (and should) have been made into a television movie or even been part of the series canon.

 

TAC Reviews...Heat

Date Posted: 11/09/15

 

First published in 2004 Heat is a cross over story featuring both the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off show Angel. It was written by Nancy Holder, who (if you’ll recall) was the same author who wrote Queen of the Slayers a year later. This is a novel that is considered non-canon so the events contained within do not form part of the Buffy universe.

 

Heat Cover

 

Now as you are undoubtedly a loyal fan and have read all of my reviews to date then you will know that Nancy Holder also wrote another Buffy book called Queen of the Slayers which I was not exactly a fan of. If you haven’t read that review then scroll up this page a little and check it out…do it now…I’ll wait…

 

...Read it...??

 

…Right moving on. So as an author that relies on a lot of description and very little else was Heat going to follow the same pattern??

 

Naturally I am going to tell you but first let me give you the lowdown…

 

Buffy is fighting the good fight in Sunnydale whilst Angel is battling the forces of darkness in LA. Oh yes, I should probably mention that this story takes place sometime during Buffy Season 7 because Spike has his soul, and during Angel Season 4 after Gunn killed the man who sent Fred to Pylea to protect her. Jhiera who appeared in the Season 1 in the episode She reappears in the novel still trying to find a safe place for her women from Oden-Tal. Here she has teamed up with body jumping Chinese sorcerer named Qin who struggles to remain warm in possessed bodies, and is trying to bring about the Year of the Hot Devil by bringing a dragon into this dimension.

 

In Sunnydale, Buffy has to deal with Qin’s treacherous wizard Fai-Lok who wants to take the dragon for himself whilst in Los Angeles Angel Investigations are attempting to discover why Jhiera is back and more importantly what Qin is trying to do, who is naturally backed up by evil law firm Wolfram & Hart.

 

As the stakes escalate Sunnydale is destroyed as a dragon awakes but in the darkness of the Ice Hell an even greater evil lurks and all it needs is someone with enough heat to break it free of its prison…someone like Jhiera.

 

In my review of the TV show Angel I said that in my opinion Season 1 was the best, it featured pretty self enclosed episodes and introduced a host of new characters, some who would reappear and others who sadly didn’t. Jhiera was one of those characters that unfortunately didn’t pop up again. She was played by the super-sexy Bai Ling and her chemistry with David Boreanaz came through on screen as her character Jhiera clashed with Angel despite the obvious attraction between the two. Angel is strong, and powerful with the heat Jhiera produced when aroused making his cold body feel warm for the first time and Jhiera is a warrior and leader of her women, seeking freedom from those who would enslave them. Jhiera was only interested in protecting her women and did not care about innocent people who got caught in the crossfire, this lead to her clash with Angel who is sworn to protect the innocent.

 

That was where things had been left after the two parted company in She with Angel warning her not to bring her battle back to LA again.

 

In Heat she has been forced to return and has made a deal with Qin, the First Emperor of China, she will thaw his dragon Fire Storm and in return Qin will destroy the Vigories of Oden-Tal who are still hunting Jhiera and her women. Things take a turn for the complicated when Angel comes across Jhiera and realises that she is working with Qin and together they are planning to burn the world.

 

Meanwhile in Sunnydale, Buffy is having dreams about making love to Angel and burning alive with him. The Scooby gang are investigating a series of deaths and a mysterious robed group that have been kidnapping people. Despite the Slayer’s best efforts the fearsome dragon Fire Storm arrives in Sunnydale and levels the city forcing Buffy and co to travel to LA to join Angel and take the fight to the source, Qin’s demon father Lir.

 

I have to say that there is quite a lot to like her, Holder manages to capture both the sexual tension between Angel and Jhiera as well as the strong love that Buffy and Angel share that they can do nothing about. Angel could throw caution to the wind and just have sex with Jhiera but he knows that she cannot be trusted, whilst at the Hotel, Buffy is obviously jealous of the chemistry between her soul mate and another woman.

 

The tension between Gunn and Fred following his murder of Fred’s professor also features with Fred’s opinion of the man she loved irreparably damaged. She tries to look past what he’s done but night after night they lie beside one another not able to touch one another or even talk about what happened.

 

The characters are done well with their pasts naturally featuring prominently. This is also the first time that Dawn and Angel have ever interacted. Dawn entered Buffy after Angel left so apart from a scene in Season 4 of Angel when Angel had reverted to Angelus and called Sunnydale, he spoke to her to see if Buffy was still in Sunnydale after learning a Slayer was in LA the two have never shared any time together. Even that scene only featured Angelus’ end of the conversation, we did not see Dawn on the other end of the line. In Heat Angel obviously cares for Buffy’s fake kid sister and she also seems to be quite fond of him too.

 

Where Heat starts to fall down is in a couple of respects, one I can forgive, but the other is a real biggie that I will get onto in a bit.

 

In order to awaken his dragon Qin needs three objects, the Heart, the Orb and the Flame. One of these artefacts is hidden in another dimension…take a wild guess which dimension…yep Pylea. So Lorne’s home dimension just happens to be the location of the Flame. Gunn, Lorne and Lorne’s cousin head to Pylea and are able to find the Flame in short order and return without too much difficulty. A pretty big coincidence that of all the Hell Dimensions out there the Flame is in a reality that not only has Gunn been to, but Lorne is from and they have friends capable of helping them achieve their goals. I can forgive this because after all an author could probably write an entire novel on retrieving an object from a Hell Dimension that we are not familiar with…what I cannot forgive is the ending.

 

It is such a copout…basically Sunnydale is destroyed and LA is left in fiery ruin. If the book is non-canon then go all out, wipe out the main setting for the show, why the hell not, events are in an alternate or fan made universe after all. What pissed me off about the ending was that Xander is killed in Sunnydale whilst trying to rescue survivors and Jhiera sacrifices herself in LA so that Buffy and Angel can save the day…having the balls to kill of one of the main characters…that I might have respected except that after the final battle Wolfram & Hart do some mystical bollocks and reverses time thus restoring both Sunnydale and Los Angeles. Xander is alive again but for some reason Jhiera is still dead. I am so sick of books that do this, they raise the stakes, give a relatively satisfying payoff for the book’s build up but then don’t have the stones to follow through with their own ideas.

 

Plus why the hell does Xander now survive and Jhiera doesn’t??

 

I have no idea if the events of the story are actually supposed to have happened, presumably not because otherwise everyone in Sunnydale and Los Angeles would have seen a couple of dragons battling in the night sky…but if it didn’t happen then how is Jhiera dead??

 

For a pretty decent story this bullshit just pissed me off…if you are going to write a story set mid-season then it is obviously not going to result in anything earth shattering because otherwise the season wouldn’t have been able to continue. So what is the point of writing something epic or earth changing if you’re going to just have to restore the status quo at the end of the story through some contrived means??

 

I read this after Queen of the Slayers and it hasn’t turned me into a Nancy Holder fan, whilst I don’t dislike this one as much as Queen of the Slayers it is such a weak ass ending that it just left me wondering why I’d bothered reading it in the first place.

 

Overall this book is getting a Thumbs Down because it doesn’t live up to its own ideas and gives such a pointless copout of an ending that killed off one character but bizarrely spared another.

 

 

4/10 – Better than Queen of the Slayers but my advice to Holder would be this, if you don’t have the nerve to write something epic then don’t try to write something epic. I have no problem with small stories but trying to build up a story only to completely wuss out in the ending always leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

 

TAC Reviews...Prime Evil

Date Posted: 09/11/15

 

Set late in Season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer this book features the established Scooby gang and was before Angel left to go to LA to find redemption away from the temptation of having Buffy around him. The novel was written by Diana A Gallagher, and I am pretty sure this is the only Buffy book of hers I have actually read.

 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Prime Evil Cover

 

I have said before that certain franchises seem to spawn terrible book after terrible book, for every good book there are a dozen crap ones, this is a pattern I have found with my beloved Star Trek franchise and it also seems to be the trend when anyone tries their hand at a Buffy book.

 

The question is then…is this a rare gem or a heap of shit??

 

Read it yourself, then you'll know, oh wait that's right you've come to me because you want me to tell you if this is worth a read, okay, I'll tell you but first, what is going on I hear you ask...

 

A new teacher named Crystal arrives at Sunnydale High and takes an immediate dislike to Buffy. The pint sized Slayer also gets distinctly unnerved whenever she is around Crystal, however, the teacher manages to form a friendly relationship with both Willow, Anya and another kid named Michael. Still, weird stuff happens at Sunnydale High so Buffy chalks things up to a teacher not liking her for some reason and carries on with her duties as the Slayer.

 

Whilst on patrol Buffy sees a man being incinerated by red lightening and she spots a girl from school with the infinity symbol (that is this just in case you don’t know) burned into her neck.

 

Buffy reports what she saw to her Watcher Giles, who hits the books and soon discovers that Crystal is actually Shugra, a primal witch seeking…[sigh]…ultimate power. In order to do this she needs a coven of 13 willing people who can draw on the proper powers, and Willow has become one of those people.

 

In my review of Heat I said that destroying Sunnydale or Los Angeles is a pretty bold step but if a novel is non-canon then go nuts, because you might as well. The good thing about Prime Evil is that it is distinctly low key, Sunnydale is not about to be destroyed, and apart from the Slayer, none of the other characters are in much danger beyond the normal dangers they face on a day to day basis. We don’t have the death of Xander seen in Heat that is conveniently reversed in the final chapter of the book. It is almost like a little self-contained episode and like so many in Buffy has some enemy that wants to destroy the world but are not the season’s Big Bad so they are promptly killed within the episode’s forty-five minute time limit.

 

This book features a retarded villain…one that you would be screaming at if they were in an episode of the show. Crystal or Shugra is a primal witch that is trying to become all powerful…which is such an original idea that my head almost exploded from sheer surprise…and all the way through she keeps saying how easy it would be to kill Buffy. The guy that gets zapped by the red lightening was apparently just in the wrong place at the wrong time because she was actually aiming at Buffy but hit the other guy by mistake…wah wah wahhhh. After this she has ample opportunities to kill the Slayer but keeps deciding to wait until she has become all powerful before doing the deed…ok here is a hot tip for anyone reading this that is a supremely powerful villain that is looking to get more powerful…kill your enemies when you have the chance. The easiest way to do this is with a disintegrator ray, trust me I have tried and it totally works, one shot…zzzzaaaapppp…your enemy is dust.

 

No mess (well apart from a little pile of ash where they were standing), no fuss, just enemy dead.

 

Do you see my point??

 

If you haven't then allow me to explain - when you have the means to kill an enemy then just do it, don’t piss about, don’t toy with them giving them ample opportunity to find your weakness and thwart you plan, just kill them…zap…ash...done

 

Admittedly it has been a while since I read this book, but the lasting impression it left me was the very strong desire to shout “Just kill [Buffy] already!” I don’t get why villains have to give their adversaries an epic death, just fucking shoot them, this is what Warren tried to do at the end of Season 6 and yeah he shot about as straight as a Storm Trooper trying to kill a Rebel, but he had the right idea. The more Crystal threatened the more I knew that Buffy was going to be in no danger what-so-ever, it is like that guy who claims he gets laid so often he might as well not bother pulling on his trousers only when you head out on the town with him to see him work his magic and he fails miserably with every woman that doesn’t look like the Elephant Man’s bit on the side. That is what Crystal is like. All talk, and no action. Kill the Slayer then at the next Big Bad party you can make up something elaborate…or say you just you know killed her without trying to make her suffer or whatever.  

 

Beyond that there is not much else I can say about Prime Evil, it is a bite-sized Buffy book that could have been an episode of the show, whilst it is not that bad it features a crap enemy that is far too stupid to become all powerful. If she ever did she’d have probably tried to light a cigarette with her finger and blown up California or something.

 

Not the worst adventure I have ever read for the titular vampire Slayer but trust me, if you haven’t picked it up then you aren’t missing anything, so whilst I feel like giving this book my Meh rating, it is rather a pointless read so for its laziness and not even trying to something new it gets a Thumbs Down.

 

 

4/10 – It is a short story that doesn’t have ideas beyond, there is someone evil trying to take over the world with Buffy and Co stopping them. I think the fact that it is such a short story probably saves it from a worse rating because if it had been longer it would have been like a Nancy Holder novel, a lot of padding, for not much story.

 

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© Chris Sharman