Book Review: Alias: Recruited, Lynn Mason (2003)

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Sydney Bristow 90210

three out of five stars

When it comes to my favorite tv shows, I’m not really that into novelizations or prequels written by third parties – rarely do they live up to the standards set by the series’ writers and production crews. Even so, when I spotted an audiobook version of ALIAS: RECRUITED at a garage sale, I decided to give it a try.

As you can probably surmise, ALIAS: RECRUITED is a prequel to ALIAS – essentially, the novel is author Lynn Mason’s imagining of how Sydney came to work for SD-6. The story takes place during Syd’s freshman year in college, which finds her a shy, nervous wreck. By school year’s end, she’s been recruited by SD-6, trained in Krav Maga and weaponry, worked her way up from a desk job to field work, successfully completed her first mission, even killing a man – and spurned the hot guy from her English class who spurned her back in September. All in just 192 pages (or two short CDs)!

Overall, the writing is so-so. The book’s Amazon listing says that it’s for grades 8 and up, which might explain some of the juvenile focus on hot dudez (as mentioned above). In addition to the Beverley Hills 90210-like college scenarios, I found Mason’s portrait of a younger, less self-assured Sydney to be a stretch – an unbelievable stretch. College freshman Sydney has never dated, never had a boyfriend, is in fact an utter tool around guys, and seems to have no social skills whatsoever. While this is attributed to the stress of losing her mother at a young age, I don’t buy it. Certainly, I agree that absentee father Jack Bristow might have deflated her self-esteem – and the loss of Laura/Irina only added to Sydney’s stress – but she’s also smart (a genius, actually), athletic, and beautiful. She’d be able to get a date wearing nothing but a potato sack and speaking in tongues. I understand why Mason painted such a sorry picture of young Syd – in order to contrast her with secret agent Syd, thus illustrating the changes she undergoes under the tutelage of SD-6 – but still, the whole thing comes off as hackneyed. Meh.

I probably wouldn’t have wasted my time with ALIAS: RECRUITED had I not been able to find an audio version of the book. It’s a fun enough listen – it made my vacuuming fly by, at least. My only complaint with the audiobook is that narrator Amanda Foreman’s Francie imitation makes Francie sound like an annoying, idiotic Valley Girl. Seriously, you wonder why Syd would hang out with such a ditz. Ditto the college-age guys – Foreman tries to masculinize her voice, but she just sounds like a dumb surfer, or an even dumber Valley Dude. Quite annoying.

I probably won’t go out of my way to buy any of the other prequels on CD, but at its best, ALIAS: RECRUITED made me want to break out Season 1 on DVD.

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)