I’d read Knee-Deep in the Dead about four or five times by the time I realized it was the first of a series. The ending should have clued me in, but this was when Amazon.com was a blip on the unrealized plane of e-commerce, and such information was hard to come by. I rushed out and bought the three remaining volumes in time to take them on the family vacation, only to accidentally leave Book 2 on the plane, and of course it was nowhere to be found in any of the bookstores in Myrtle Beach.
By the time I found another copy, I was almost literally lusting after it. And it was every bit as good as I expected. While the first book was relatively true to the game, Hell on Earth tries to keep a rough parity with Doom 2, although it deviates somewhat in the development of the plot (since the game didn’t, you know, have one). It does, however, introduce the villains from Doom 2, and keeps the general precept.
I have to laugh at how heavily Mormonism figures into it, however. By some pretty implausible means, our heroes find themselves on an alien-invaded Earth, with Salt Lake City being one of the last strongholds of civilization. I, personally, identify with the heroine, who is pretty antagonistic to the patriarchal bastards.
Regardless, this book seems like a staging area for the larger machinations of the series’ plot. There’s no real resolution like Book 1, or any answers, really, but serves to introduce what will become the primary conflict: enjoy the traditional villains while you can, because after this book, everything takes a turn for the weird, and the series transforms from a simple novelization to a truly sci-fi opera.
Like its predecessor, it has excellent characterization, more guns, more monsters, and more action, but with the obvious difficulty of blazing its own narrative trail, since it must depart from the game somewhat in order to stay interesting and give the heroes something to work toward.
If you liked the first, get this one as well.