Halo: The Fall of Reach Book Review
This is how it all began...
Over twenty years ago the original Xbox launched with a game called Halo. I was there on day one. I pre-orded an Xbox bundle that included the original Xbox, NFL Fever 2002, Dead Or Alive 3, and Halo. Nobody remembers the football game that Peyton Manning endorsed, but everyone remembers Halo.
Halo: Combat Evolved (the original game title) was a game that changed the entire first person shooter genre. And well, I was there for the whole crazy Halo obsession that went on for years. I have fond memories of countless hours running through the story mode on co-op or an absurd amount of multiplayer death matches or capture the flag on Blood Gulch (maybe the best map ever?).
The Fall Of Reach Is… Great?!
Despite my love of Halo and my love of books, it wasn't until recently that I read Halo: The Fall Of Reach.
For me, Halo: The Fall Of Reach was the book equivalent of watching the first Iron Man movie. Lots of action, cool backstory, and 100% a guilty pleasure sort of book. As a fan, I ate it up.
The story covers two main story arcs. First, how Master Chief became the super soldier savior of humanity. Second, how UNSC military outpost planet Reach gets destroyed by the Covenant aliens.
Note: that's not a spoiler, it's literally in the title!
I enjoyed the book. As a Halo fan it gave me a ton of backstory on Master Chief. And it piled on action, explosions, and drama. It hit many of the same notes that the games do, but in a completely different medium.
The Halo books always seemed like an expanded universe cash grab by Microsoft. From what I understand about Bungie's feelings toward the Halo novels, they were.
Despite the cash grab vibe, author Eric Nylund did an outstanding job making a book worthy of the franchise. I mean, if the book was bad, it would have flopped. Yet, there are about 30 Halo books now, so I guess it worked out.
I picked up this book and two other books in the series a few years back at a city library book sale for maybe a dollar each. Or maybe it was less...
Did I get a dollar's worth of entertainment from this book? YES!
As a fan of the Halo games, this book is a great read. If you aren't a fan of Halo, this might get you into it. At the very least, it's a fun sci-fi action book.
Master Chief’s Bizarre Backstory
Before I wrap up my review, I did want to touch on how screwed up Master Chief (John-117)'s background is. The later games touch on his relationship to Dr. Halsey and the Spartan program, but never in as clear of a way as this book.
John-117 was taken from his family and replaced with a clone. Then they put him in military training along with dozens of other abducted children to become Spartans. The Spartans have science experiments and genetic alterations done to them to enhance their battlefield performance. Later, they get the super suit Mjolnir armor that Master Chief made famous in the games.
And why did the military do this? To be ready to put down human rebellions. Later the humans come into contact with aliens and the Spartans are the only soldiers equipped to fight them on an even playing field. What luck!
Not much of this backstory even made it into the games much until Halo 3 or Halo 4. I could be wrong, it's been a while since I played through the whole series.
Anyhow, I went a very long time without ever even realizing how screwed up Master Chief's backstory even is before the first game takes place. This book changed that for me. I suppose I'm much more sympathetic to John-117 and how desperate the future world military - the UNSC was at the time.
Those Old Skool Halo Vibes
The other thing I'd like to say before ending this review is how much this book reminded me of the good parts of Halo. Sometime last year I played through Halo Infinite and was underwhelmed. It was fun at times, but it wasn't magic anymore. It ended with cheap story "mystery boxes" and I stopped caring about the story or the series much anymore.
Halo: The Fall Of Reach reminded me of how great the original Halo vibe was. I am thinking about replaying the original game again. Heck, I'm even reading the next novel Halo: Flood right now.
In conclusion, Halo: The Fall Of Reach book was awesome. I enjoyed it. Call it a guilty pleasure. I'm a sucker for Halo. But it was great. If you like Halo or sci-fi fun, you might enjoy it too.
Verdict: Halo Rules!
P.S. I had more fun with the video review than I expected when reading this book.