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Halo: The Flood (William C. Dietz)

In my review of the first Halo book, I joked that I would have rather read a book about Halo than played the game. Unfortunately, I need to eat those words. Halo: The Flood by William Dietz takes all the drudgery of the game and translates it, nearly verbatim, into a book of equal drudgery.

Whether by choice or by command from Bungie, Dietz takes you through a very literal retelling of the computer game. He does add several perspectives to the tale, however, giving you parts of the story from the eyes of Captain Keys, a Covenant Elite, and other Marines. In this regard, there's more to the story than what the game covered.

Unfortunately, I can't say the extra bits of the story were compelling. When I played Halo, my mind swirled with questions: "who exactly were the Forerunners who built Halo? What was their motivation for creating the Flood? Was Guilty Spark operating as designed, or had he gone mad? How much did the Covenant know about what they were messing with? Did they unleash the Flood on accident or on purpose?"

You won't find the answers in this book.

The action, as in the game, ground down to meaningless repetition of gunning down bad guys. For example, the gunfight after retrieving Keyes' CNI transponder near the end of the game: "The horde really came for him then, honking, glibbering, and gurgling.... The storm of gunfire put out by the MJOLNIR-clad soldier was too powerful, too well aimed, and the Flood started to wilt, stumble, and fall, many giving up their lives only inches from the Spartan's blood-drenched boots, clawing at his ankles."

The downfall of this book is its devotion to faithfully re-creating the game. Lots of rooms of bad guys can make for an enjoyable computer game, but it doesn't make for good reading. (I don't think it made for that great of a game, either.) The added story lines didn't contribute anything of significance. But the real shame of Halo: The Flood is where it didn't go. There's so much story around the Halo construct and the Covenant's motivations just begging for exploration. Rather than focusing on the action, this book should have focused on the story underneath the action.