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Tie-in novels

What are your thoughts on movie and TV tie-in novels? Are they all bad? Or if some are good is it worth reading through the bad ones to find the good ones? If you do read them, why? If you don't, why not?

I used to read some Buffy novels and I never thought they were horrible, and lately I have been reading a few Supernatural novels, some are good, some are really bad, but they are fun. I overheard a few people talking about tie-in novels today at the bookstore, and I was just wondering what everyone's thoughts were on them. Thanks!

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( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
silverflight8
Jan. 29th, 2014 10:41 pm (UTC)
The novelization of The Revenge of the Sith was a millllllion times better than the movie. But the Phantom Menace was terrible. (disclaimer: I am an EU fan.)
hibiscusrose
Jan. 29th, 2014 10:59 pm (UTC)
I think if you're a big fan of the series/movie, it's worth looking into your options. In a lot of ways, it's authorized fan fiction, but more likely to be canon, and you read it because you want to know more about the characters or the world. I have the sole novel written for Bones (Bones Buried Deep), and it's a decent read, although there are so many details off! Eye color, character backgrounds, even some of the setting (I used to live in Chicago--I get a little anal about that). But I don't regret it. Same for some of the Star Wars stuff--some good, some bad.

On the other hand, I wouldn't run out and buy one straight off the shelf--I'd borrow it from the library, and all that was lost if it was a poor book was a few hours of my time.
madeleinestjust
Jan. 30th, 2014 08:55 pm (UTC)
Wait, isn't Bones based on a series of books by Kathy Reichs, anyway? (I tried the first one.)

I read loads of Star Trek (The Original Series) tie-in novels last year, while watching the original series on DVD. Some were good, building on the characters, while others were merely cashing in on the brand name. All good fun, though.
hibiscusrose
Feb. 2nd, 2014 07:19 am (UTC)
Yep, Bones is based on Kathy Reichs' books. Although these days, the only real similarity is Dr Temperance Brennan, who happens to be a forensic anthropologist (it's not really the same Brennan in a lot of ways). The books take a little to get into them; I read a number and had to stop.
humming_along
Jan. 29th, 2014 11:03 pm (UTC)
Oz: Into the Wild was a good BTVS tie-in that told what happened to Oz after he left Sunnydale and what he did to learn to control his transformation.
humming_along
Jan. 29th, 2014 11:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, and the original V series, the tie ins were great, as they told stories about the invasion from other cities or countries and how different people and communities were affected.
shanrina
Jan. 29th, 2014 11:24 pm (UTC)
When I was a kid I loved the ones for Sabrina the Teenage Witch lol. I haven't read any as an adult because I assumed they would be terrible, but I know someone who's been slowly going through a lot of the Star Trek books, and one or two of the series he's reviewed sound interesting, so I might try them.
marycatelli
Jan. 29th, 2014 11:42 pm (UTC)
In my experience the best tie-ins are to role-playing games. Where the writers only need take the roles and (sometimes) the setting. Muses seem to find being confined to the characters and everything dispiriting.
l_o_lostshadows
Jan. 29th, 2014 11:55 pm (UTC)
I have an embarrassing large collection of Star Wars books and have a few read books from a bunch of other media tie-ins, and I don't find them that different from other books. Some are good, some are bad. If I like the universe enough to watch it, I'm likely to like it enough to read about it.

I'd suggest looking at reviews over just hoping the book doesn't suck whenever possible. Also paying attention to the authors. Some authors just seem to get some universes better than others, making their works safer bets.
silverflight8
Jan. 30th, 2014 12:13 am (UTC)
Yeah, definitely hit-or-miss! And very unexpected which ones are good--I'd rather Jedi Apprentice (aimed at like ages 9-12) than Karen Traviss any day.
achacunsagloire
Jan. 30th, 2014 12:39 am (UTC)
Some are good, some are bad. It depends on whether or not the author is competent and has a firm grip on the franchise's world and characters.
archersangel.dreamwidth.org
Jan. 30th, 2014 05:11 am (UTC)
like any other category of books there are bad one, good ones & just ok ones. thankfully, the last two categories often outweigh the first.

i read them because i like the "universe" the show or movie is set in & want to see more of it.
lothy
Jan. 30th, 2014 12:09 pm (UTC)

To repeat what others have said, tie-ins are very hit and miss (much like any other novels!) - some are awesome, some are appallingly bad and lots are in-between. It makes a difference how well the author knows the universe - I've read a few books where the author has clearly been hired having never seen the show/film and hasn't really bothered to change that.

The best in my opinion is the Star Wars Expanded Universe, I have shelves full of SW novels in my room. I love that they have the freedom to change things - many tie-in novels are constrained by the fact that at the end of the novel every character has to be in pretty much the same place they were at the beginning, but in post-Return of the Jedi SW novels they can do what they want. (How the new movies will impact the EU is anybody's guess, though.) There are some fabulous characters created for the EU, and some great new villians. Admittedly there are lots of rubbish SW novels (which is frustrating) but there are plenty of great ones too.

I read the occasional Doctor Who novel, they tend to be quite fun - and some recent DW books are actually written by top British authors, which is unusual for tie-ins. (There's also the Big Finish audio plays, with original castmembers, but I haven't got around to trying those out yet.)

I used to be a big fan of Peter David's Star Trek: New Frontier series, but unfortunately it's been declining in quality for quite a while now. The first books are brilliant though. There are also some really good Babylon 5 books which tie up plotlines the TV series left dangling. I read a few of the Buffy & Angel books too, particularly the crossovers, and Stargate... I've read quite a lot of tie-ins really.

Basically I tend to prefer tie-ins where the writers are allowed to develop and change their characters and/or plotlines. Though I do occasionally pick up one of the other kind for a bit of light-reading, especially when I'm on a long bus journey.

(I'm pleased to realise I even have an appropriate icon - Jaina Solo from the Star Wars EU.)

Edited at 2014-01-30 12:11 pm (UTC)
maldeluxx
Jan. 30th, 2014 12:13 pm (UTC)
I have tie-in novels for TV shows: 24, and all three CSI shows... all that I have read have been pretty good, especially the main CSI ones. I once borrowed a Sandman tie-in novel from the library, don't remember more, but it was good, too. :)
lothy
Jan. 30th, 2014 12:47 pm (UTC)
Yes, I remember being impressed with the few CSI novels I read.
maldeluxx
Jan. 30th, 2014 01:50 pm (UTC)
My favorite is "Snake Eyes". :)
maldeluxx
Jan. 30th, 2014 12:14 pm (UTC)
And forgot: have some for Doctor Who and Torchwood, which were nice. :)
zandperl
Jan. 30th, 2014 03:06 pm (UTC)
I think it's fascinating to consume a story in different media and compare them. Most of what I've consumed are cases where there's a novel and then a film, such as The Last Unicorn, The Princess Bride, or Ender's Game. I've found I tend to like best the version that I consumed first (film in the first two cases, novel in the third), regardless of order created.

The exceptions (of my liking the order in which they're consumed) come when it's closer to fanfic as others have mentioned - that is, the subsequent media forms are deliberately not intending to recreate the original. For example, the biggest exception I've had was Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The order of my consumption there was books, radio drama, film, while order created was radio drama, books, film. I liked the radio drama most. But I'd also consider the many recreations of ACD's Sherlock Holmes to fall into this category. My favorite is the BBC series, followed by Neil Gaiman's A Study in Emerald (ACD/Lovecraft crossover fanfic), with the original ACD and the RDJ film tying for last.

One case I'm particularly interested in "closing the loop" on is Total Recall. The film is a sufficiently different story from the inspiring We Can Remember it for You Wholesale by PKD that I don't really have a favorite since I can't directly compare them, but a friend thought that the book was originally by Piers Anthony. Turns out Anthony wrote a tie-in novel that was actually released shortly before the movie, and now I want to read that.
frelling_tralk
Jan. 30th, 2014 03:27 pm (UTC)
I used to read the Buffy tie-ins and they were okay from what I remember, but somewhere along the way I just ended up reading fanfic instead because authors thee have so much more freedom to play with canon in any way they like. The writing isn't necessarily bad for tie-in novels, just IMO they're generally not all that imaginative because of the restrictions placed on the authors
paulliver
Jan. 31st, 2014 11:34 am (UTC)
The Star Trek novels range widely in quality. I thought "The Price of the Phoenix" and "The Fate of the Phoenix" were the best, and the second was a sequel to the first. Ultimately, it is all fan fiction that the publishers thought they could make money off of, which is fine. A lot of fan fic might be bad, but a lot of original fiction is bad, too. Those same two authors also wrote "Triangle" about Spock and Kirk falling in love with the same woman, which was a trip, too.
sylviamcivers
Jan. 31st, 2014 05:16 pm (UTC)
Very much hit of miss.
Love the supernatural TV show, so I read the novels - a lot of fanfiction was better. Mind you, a lot of fanfic was also a lot worse. ;)

Also, love your icon!
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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