Sunday, March 6, 2011

Off Topic Review: Transformers: Exodus by Alex Irvine

Transformers: Exodus written by Alex Irvine was released June 22, 2010 and in effect serves as a prequel novel to the events that take place in the Transformers movies.  It also ties into the Transformers: War for Cybertron video game released at the same time.

The story follows the relationship between Optimus Prime and Megatron before they become the characters we know them as later on.  Optimus Prime begins his life as Orion Pax a data clerk in the Cybertronian city of Iacon.  Pax's intelligence and curiosity bring him t the attention of the Archivist and overseer of the Hall of Records, Alpha Trion. 

Megatron on the other hand begins his life as a nameless gladiator, fighting for his life in the lowly pits of Kaon.  Megatron is very different in the beginning of the book then he is at the end, but the seeds of meglomaniacal villain that he will become are there. 

The tale of Optimus Prime and Megatron's relationship is interesting and to me echos the Xavier-Magneto relationship from the X-Men franchise with Prime in the Xavier role and Megatron in the Magneto role.  Reading the story you know that the split between the two is inevitable, and you also get the sense that Megatron is being less than honest with Prime about his ideas and intentions.

One of the more curious and interesting characters in the story is Starscream.  I am a fan of the '80s Generation 1 Transformers series.  So my conception of Starscream is the whiny, bumbling usurper.  There is a certain nobility, though misguided to Irvine's portrayal of Starscream.  There is also more skill and cunning then the character is often given.  This was my favorite character in the book.

For my fellow Star Wars fans, all the talk of Ion cannons and vibroblades will make you feel at home.  

My biggest issue with the book is that at times the pacing seems off.  While it makes sense to use in universe terms for the passage of time "cycles," this often left me wondering especially in the first half of the book just how much time was passing.  It seems like the Megatron-Pax relationship before their falling out as well as the surrounding revolutionary events where happening to quickly.  Some of this may be explained by the difference in how a robotic mind would interpret and analyze data, theoretically quicker then we organics, but on the whole, this seemed a little off to me. 

On the whole it was nice that the books had throwbacks to the various TV incarnations as well as the movies, and other media.  The Matrix of Leadership brings me right back to the 1986 cartoon movie and its epic awesomeness. 

I am a total child of the '80s, I had all the Transformers toys and watched the cartoon all the time.  But I only occasionally watched Beast Wars, and haven't read any of the other novels or Transformers comics.  I have seen the new Transformers live action movies, so it is from the perspective of a fairly casual fan that I view this book.  In the end reading this book brought me back to the '80s and in my head inspite of the recent movies, I can't help seeing my favorite Autobots and Decepticons in their Generation 1 forms. 

Transformers: Exodus is an entertaining and interesting read that gives you a different look at the origin of the Autobots and Decepticons as well as their opposing Leaders.

Thanks to Transformers Wiki TFWIKI for reference and images.

Thanks to Alex Irvine for the autographed copy of Transformer: Exodus.  You can follow Alex Irvine on his website and on Twitter.

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