Publisher: Titan Books
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: June 6th, 2014
The official prequel novel to the brand-new movie Dawn of the Planet of the Apes bridges the gap between the events of the box-office smash Rise of the Planet of the Apes and the much-anticipated sequel, as well as offering fans the full story that leads into the action on screen.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes was one of my favourite movies of 2011 and saw the Planet of the Apes franchise successfully return to the big screen. Ever since then I've been eagerly awaiting its sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (out July!), and was so, so excited to learn there'd be a prequel novel. I've always loved movie/TV tie-ins and I'm glad to see them having a bit of a revival, especially because I got to read Firestorm. It's an excellent book that I almost read in one sitting, and I honestly couldn't put it down. I kept saying "Just one more chapter" and then reading four, and before I knew it I was at the end, tempted to flip back to the beginning and wishing I could go and see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Alas, good things apparently come to those who wait.
This book is well written (minus quite a few annoying typos - WHY is this so prevalent in tie-ins?!) with excellent characterisation and is a fantastic addition to the Planet of the Apes world. There are many threads running through it and we get sections from different character's perspectives, including those in the research and medical fields, political figures and of course a couple of the apes themselves. Caesar and Koba are the main apes, with Koba being seen even more than Caesar thanks to riveting flashbacks to his past. Koba isn't one of the apes I've ever given much thought to, but I now have a much better understanding of him and why he is how he is. His flashback scenes are actually my favourite part of Firestorm, and it broke my heart to watch his story unfold as it did.
I'm trying to write this review without giving any spoilers away, but still I need to talk a bit about what the story's about. If you remember the end of Rise of the Planet of the Apes then you'll recall a bleeding human and, earlier in the film, a mention of 113 not being safe for humans like it is for apes. This is directly addressed in Firestorm when the population finds itself at the hands of a deadly virus five days after Monkeygate. No-one is safe from infection and people believe the only clue to a cure could lie with the apes, impervious to the virus and still happily living in the trees. Obviously man is wrong, as they often are, and the apes are once again in danger, literally fighting for their lives. Believe me, it makes for thrilling reading!
Greg Keyes has a knack for writing tie-ins and I hope he writes many more. His storytelling and execution of what is actually a complex, multi-faceted novel shows how much of a fan he is himself, and how much he wants this book to work. His dedication to Caesar and the apes is faultless, shining through in every chapter, and I don't think there's any author who would have done a better job with this particular novelisation. This book made me really believe in Caesar and what he's doing and just added to my love of these films. Firestorm would have made a great movie in itself, which is all I ever want from an original tie-in, especially a prequel. If I can envisage it on the big screen then it's a worthy addition to the movie series, and I can definitely see Firestorm in glorious 3D.
Firestorm is one of the best tie-in novels I've had the pleasure of reading, and I've read a lot over the years. It ties up a lot of loose ends and answers a lot of questions that I'm sure will be addressed in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and I'm glad I read this book before seeing the new film. I now have a greater understanding of what's happened in the decade between films, why the Earth is now different and why the human race is so depleted. This book adds a whole new dimension to this series and shows just how good tie-in novels can be. A few years ago they seemed to be dying out but, like the apes, they've risen again and have come back stronger than ever. If you're a fan of Rise of the Planet of the Apes - whether casual or hardcore - this is an essential book that needs a place on your shelf. It's really quite brilliant.