Skin Game and After the Dark by Max Allan Collins
If you ever want to fall down the rabbit hole, start watching James Cameron’s 2000 Fox TV show Dark Angel. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be watching “Max and Logan Dark Angel” music videos on YouTube for two hours the next weekend, after having binge-watched the series and read the sequels.
Dark Angel followed Max Guavara (played by Jessica Alba), a government-engineered fighting machine who escaped her barracks, as she lived, loved, and struggled in a dystopian future Seattle. The series lasted two seasons on Fox. After the series was canceled, Max Allan Collins picked up the torch and authored Skin Game and After the Dark.
The plot of Skin Game picks up where the TV show left off. Max is still living, loving, and struggling, only now she has a few more friends and many more enemies. After the Dark continues Max’s saga and concludes several plot lines from season 2 of the series. I won’t give anything away except to say that most of the conclusions were satisfactory and one of them was an abomination.
The books read like generic SF and any hip-hop or cultural quality found in the show is lost in the books. Also, the dialogue and banter between the characters rarely translated effectively to the books, especially the character of Original Cindy. And do you remember Oriana Fallaci, the figurative language queen? Collins might be able to unseat her as the monarch of bad metaphor. Collins describes one character, Ames White, as “Leanly muscular, with spiky brown hair, icy blues eyes, and the empathy of a shark.” Although the books were mainly written in an artless, clunky manner, the suspense was quite good. Collins was able to craft mystery without slowing down the plot.
Would I recommend these books to just anybody? No, probably not. But I am unquestionably glad I read them. They finished what the TV series started and satiated my craving to know where my beloved characters ended up.
3/6: more good than bad
P.S. I didn’t want to give anything away in this book review to people who want to watch the TV series so I left the plot discussions intentionally vague and incomplete. If you want to know more about the plots of the books and have seen the show, read these reviews: