Book - The Complete Independence Day Omnibus

Independence Day novels

Stuart Mulrain heads for his cropduster and reads The Complete Independence Day Omnibus by Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich and Stephen Molstad, thanks to Titan Books...

The movie tie-in novelisation is something of an odd phenomenon in the modern age of home entertainment. Originally conceived in the days before you could buy a movie to watch again and again at home, the tie-in novelisation was seen as a way to relive the film you’ve just watched at the cinema, without actually having the film to watch. The problem though is that they were usually based on an early shooting draft of the script, meaning that they can differ quite significantly in places from the finished film. That said, the best of them can succeed in adding depth to moments that will alter the way you view them in the film (if memory serves, the novelisations of the Star Wars Prequels are very good for this) and expand on the universe the film is set in.

One film that got the novelisation treatment was 1996’s Independence Day, which has been re-released by Titan Books in this omnibus edition with Silent Zone (the official prequel) and War In The Desert (a sidequel) to coincide with the ID4 big screen return in (and inevitable tie-in novels to) Independence Day: Resurgence. It’s a mammoth read at just under 900 pages, but excellent value for the price and perfect if you’re summer holiday will consist of lying on the beach reading.

As a huge fan of the film on which the book is based, I must confess to finding the novelisation something of a slog to read. It’s not the fault of the writing; it’s just that the film is such ridiculous enjoyable fun that the book seems flat in comparison. Like most books of this kind, the book is based on an earlier shooting draft on the script so it is lacking many of the best lines from the film (that were either improvised on set or added in re-writes). It also uses the original bi-plane ending to the film (if you haven’t seen it, check it out on the Special Edition DVD/Blu-Ray), which is a much weaker ending to the story.

It also fails to really add anything to what we see on screen, offering a little more in the way of back-story to the characters, but not really giving anything that adds any depth to how we see them on screen (and I’m aware I’m saying that about characters in Independence Day). It does offer some explanation to certain elements of the movie such as how Jasmine, Dylan and Boomer survived by hiding in a maintenance cupboard and why hiding underground wouldn’t necessarily save you. It also goes into detail on how the aliens took out NORAD, which adds an extra sense of danger to the final act as the alien ship approaches Area 51.

More successful are Silent Zone and War In The Desert. Silent Zone begins in 1972 (although its prologue is set the day after the film) and tells the story of a young Dr. Okun (Brent Spiner in the film) working at Area 51 and the cover up of the alien visitation. It’s a fun read that captures the character of Okun well and offers a neat plot that makes for a pretty compelling read. War In The Desert is exactly what it sounds like, telling the story of a group of rival nations coming together – post bringing down a city destroyer (the big ships) – for a hand to hand ground war with the aliens. It’s a good read that offers an alternate version of the war with the aliens, expanding on the ongoing fight once the film ends.

Image - Titan Books