Since the dawn of the popular media, there have been media tie-in books. Part of me imagines that back in the days of the Greek tragedies, there were vendors outside with the further exploits of Oedipus available for you to take home and read, should you choose to do so. After all, who wouldn't want to know more about that guy?
In most cases, media tie-in novels are those that feature the familiar characters from the show, movie, video game, etc., all acting and interacting within the established universe.
In some rare cases, the novels will actually be incorporated into the backstory and history of the show. Star Trek: Voyager
did this during its run with two novels by producer Jeri Taylor that expanded the backstory of Janeway and the crew. While it wasn't necessary to read the novels in order to enjoy the show, there were times in the series when nods were made to the novels. If you'd read them, you'd catch the reference. If not, it was just a reference and you wouldn't be totally lost for not having read it.
Then you've got a book like "Bad Twin" a novel that ties into the on-going mythology of the hit TV show Lost
. The novel was featured on the show this year--we saw Saywer reading a draft of the novel on the beach. According to the Lost mythology, author Gary Troup was on the flight and this is his final novel, now hitting bookstores posthumously. Interestingly, the same week the book was featured on the show, it started appearing in bookstores.
Coincidence? Oh, I don't think so.
So how do we judge "Bad Twin"?
Judged by its own merits, it's a competently written mystery story, though one that employs every cliche in the book. Our hero is a hard-boiled detective loner who is called up by Clifford Whitmore to solve the case of just where his twin brother has vanished to. Paul Artisan, the hero of the story, starts to peel away the layers of why the twin brother, Zander, would vanish. The story takes him from New England to Florida to Cuba to California to Australia. The book tries hard to pull out a lot of red herrings and send you down blind alleys, but these are a bit too obviously done at times.
There aren't any really what I'd call any great characters in this book. Paul is the lonely, hard-boiled detective, who seems like he'd be at home in a 40's noir film. He's got a friend who is an older professor who will fill Paul in on details of literature throughout the novel, conviently at times to reflect what's going on in the novel. It feels a bit obvious almost as if whoever wrote this book is trying to say, "Look at how smart and literate I am...see I mentioned such-and-such."
So, as a novel, "Bad Twin" isn't much to write home about.
But as a novel that ties into Lost
, it's not exactly much to write home about either. The novel features all kinds of tie-ins to the fictional universe of Lost. It has the themes of identity and no one being exactly what they seem to be upon first appearance. It also seems to fit in well with the concept that no one on the island seems to get along particularily well with his or father because daddy-issues are all over this book. It has tons of references to the show, inluding the numbers showing up over and over as well as settings, buisnesses and places from the show. How all, or any, of this ties into the show's central mythology, I'm not really sure. It may or it may not....it's kind of left up to the reader to figure out if it could be.
Honestly, were it not for the fact that this book was tied to the Lost
universe, I'd probably never have read it. It's not great, but it's not as bad as some media tie-in novels I've read over the years. Yes, it's designed to take advantage of the fact that Lost
is a huge hit show and it's part of that huge viral marketing campaign on this summer to keep Lost
-ies interested in the mythology of the show. From that point of view, it's well done. But if you're looking for a novel that can easily stand on its own without the fictional universe that spawned it, the novel isn't successful. It's full of cliched characters, plots and situations. Honestly, were it not for this being tied into Lost
, I bet "Bad Twin" would never have seen the light of day.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/17/2006 08:01:00 AM