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Gamertell Review: Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction novel by David Michaels

by Jonathan Gronli on Jan 2, 2010 at 08:41 PM

splinter cell conviction cover

Title: Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction
Author: David Michaels
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Release Date: November 2009
Price: $9.99
Pros: It’s well written, further develops continuing characters and a pretty quick read.
Cons: We’ve been here many times before.
Rating: One thumb up and one thumb down, 79/100, C+, ** 1/2 out of five.
Overall: It’s fine as-is but it could have used some refining so that it didn’t seem too familiar.

Preempting the release of the fifth console game in the franchise, the first of two Splinter Cell books are intended to tide over fans until the next game is released. The question is whether or not the first book, Splinter Cell Conviction, puts fans of the franchise at ease by demonstrating that something is getting done with the upcoming game by the same name.

Good Times Sneaking

The novel’s story ties into Splinter Cell: Double Agent. The basic idea is that Sam Fisher, after succeeding in his mission where he has to pose as a traitor and is essentially forced by the terrorist organization that he’s infiltrating to kill his boss and friend, Irving Lambert. In essence, the entire book is a Bourne-style story.

The biggest change between the Bourne stories and this one is the fact that Sam Fisher does not suffer from amnesia while Jason Bourne does. He’s a victim of circumstance—maybe. I would throw out more details, but, since the book is fairly good, it would be wrong to give spoilers.

The imagery is simple and easy to buy into, putting you into setting that Fisher is inhabiting. It’s dark and brutal but in a good, strong way that sets the tone early in the book. For example, the first chapter follows the disgraced and disowned Fisher as he’s become a mercenary, hunting down his target.

Failure Was an Option

Even with the good of the franchise and the story, the book is not without its faults. The biggest problem is familiarity. Even though it is taking us into unfamiliar stories (for the franchise), there is still too much that’s the same. We’ve been here before with things like the Bourne series, Shooter and other films and books. If you’ve read anything in the genre, this book will be very predictable with the same twists from almost every notable espionage franchise. Just in terms of the Splinter Cell franchise, the only real change is that Fisher is pretty much alone whereas he usually had a team working with him. Even if the team wasn’t physically there to help him, there was a group to help him whether it was data analysis or e-intelligence gathering. Now, he relies solely on his intelligence, speed and strength.

It is a new direction for the franchise, however, with the fact that there are other movies and books that sport a similar plot, there really isn’t much in the way of original thinking for the espionage genre. It’s sad that there really isn’t anything new done for the genre since, even though it has its methods and motifs, there is still so much that can be done that hasn’t been done.

Passable Effort

Sure, it will bring out some interest in the game, especially within the fans. Sure, people who haven’t played the games will probably find something to keep their interest in the book. However, in terms of figuring out whether or not it stands up against the rest of the competition in the genre, it will be seen as just above average. It’s a passable novel. One can hope that Splinter Cell: Endgame will offer a new view to the franchise.

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