Tie-In Books

You may have noticed that I've reviews a number of video game tie-in novels, and that I have liked some far more than others.  It got me thinking: are tie-in novels even worth it, whether they are based on games, movies, TV series, or whatever? 

I've found that there are a few different kinds and they vary greatly in quality.  I thought I'd go through them, in order of average quality, starting with the worst kind.


These are the books that a pretty much straight recreations of original property.  The Assassin's Creed novels are an illustrative (I'd say good, but it isn't) example, as are most Hollywood blockbuster tie-ins.  They are usually not particularly good.  Authors are forced to keep to the plot, which can prove difficult since movies are obviously a visual medium, with complete different rules of pacing.  Sometimes there can be a certain pleasure in these if you take them a face value: low budget, quick turnaround, pulp throwaways.  Think of them as the Harlequins of tie-in novels.

Expanded Universe 

I borrow this term from the Star Wars novels, games, comics, and TV series, but it applies perfectly.  These are usually better than the novelizations I mention above.  The authors usually have some degree of freedom to create their own stories and often, their own characters.  They aren't tied directly to onscreen action, so can explore more in depth thoughts and motivations that would otherwise seem to intrude on familiar stories. These include prequels, sequels and other companion pieces. Sometimes the connection to the source material is obvious, but often the connection is slight, where almost nothing of the original works is mentioned. Some series include both Expand Universe material and Novelizations.  The difference in quality is usually pretty big.

Star Wars is the biggest example, but Star Trek, Halo, Mass Effect, and pretty much anything else with a big following.

Books that become films/games

These are books that get made into other media. Obvious examples are the big film releases like Hunger Games, Twilight, Lord of the Rings, Fight Club, Slumdog Millionaire, Moneyball, The Lorax, etc.  Need I go on?  Yes, since some books are made into video games, not movies.  Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell and Rainbow Six, Alice in Wonderland, the Biblical Apocrypha, and even the life of Frederic Chopin (really!).

Heck, even the first two Die Hard movies was based on books.

As with any books, quality is often a matter of opinion, but these ones are usually not terrible.

Are they worth it?

I know it's a sweeping generalization, but boys like movies and video games, and boys who don't like to read very much often don't simply because they don't feel like investing in something unfamiliar.  Tie-ins give that opportunity to look deeper into something they may already know and love.  I don't want to suggest that they will move on to something better, since that's kind of insulting, but it might encourage them to broaden their horizons.

Don't discount these tie-ins as cheapo junk (even if they sometimes are).  If they get someone who wouldn't otherwise reading, it's worth it.

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