In short, Revelations is light on depth, or even revelations themselves, but delivers big with thrills and brutality.
Sets the backdrop nicely for the game, piques interest, leaves one wanting more.
As a gamer I've been following the bloom of Mass Effect since the game was first announced. After several in depth previews, and various trivium via Bioware itself, much of the universe and story of ME is still shrouded in mystery . Given the sheer amount of content likely contained in the Bioware epic, that's an awful lot of territory to cover before the game is officially out.
That's where the prequel novel, Mass Effect - Revelations, takes our little hands, and tries to ease us into a rich, if not familiar, sci-fi adventure.
The story laid out in Revelations falls somewhere between humanity passing through their first Mass Relay, an artifact belonging to the long since vanished alien race, The Protheans, and the beginning of the Mass Effect video game proper.
The novel's narrative focuses on David Andrews, a young, battle-tested Alliance marine, (Later he grows up to be Keith David from the trailers) and Saren, the mysterious Taurian Spectre, as they separately investigate an assault on a secret Alliance research outpost.
I found this novel very easy reading, absorbing it's entirety in less than a week. The writing is fluid, descriptively sparse, and very much to the point. It almost reads as a pitch for an actual novel of greater length and detail, which I hope the game covers for. The dialog is good, both in action and intrigue, politics and punches. This bodes well for the game itself since the novel is penned by none other than the game's main writer, Drew Karpyshyn.
The book is very well paced, taking the reader in and out of the action without ever stumbling over itself to reestablish momentum. The fights are fighty, the intrigue and mystery are mysteriously intriguing, even when the book deals with the hard politics between the Alliance and the Citadel, it flows with ease, never confusing. Over all the book succeeds in everything it tries to accomplish in the shortest amount of time, though leaves me with even more questions and an even deeper desire to get my hands on the game.
I do have a few small gripes however. Don't let the title fool you, there's little to be expected in the way of revelations, at least the way I expected there to be. I thought there was going to be some very important element about the Mass Effect universe we hadn't previously been privy to, REVEALED somewhere... Nah... They should've just called the book Saren, because that's what this book is really about. If you take away one thing from this book, it will probably be the feeling that Saren is going to turn out to be one of the best video game villains ever.
Saren is the ONLY character remotely fleshed out, and even then I'm left wondering why his motivations are left so vague. No doubt we'll find out in NOV.
Because of all the service paid to the Spectre, Andrews and other players end up looking like cardboard cutouts of everyday archetypes. I hope some of the characters within make appearances in the game, obviously Andrews is your boss when the game starts, and hopefully Keith David imbues the character with a little more life than was portrayed in the book.
Lastly, there's a huge gap when the book ends and the game starts and it's annoying me, I'd spoil certain plot points if I told you why.
As far as sci-fi is concerned Mass Effect breaks no new ground, nor does it try to, and for that I respect it. It's an action packed galaxy teetering on the edge that makes me crave popcorn and coke.
So if you're down for some CSI-Starwars, in an almost too familiar sci-fi paradigm, and plan on playing the game, you NEED to read this book. Saren is waiting.
(psst... hey. This is my first blog. Please critique. Thanks)