Spider-Man 3
The Official Novelisation of the Film

Author: Peter David
Pocket Books
RRP: 6.99, US $7.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 84739 066 0
ISBN-10: 1 84739 066 8
Available 16 April 2007

Peter Parker, bitten by a radioactive spider, develops superhuman abilities, when he abuses those powers he is unable to save his Uncle Ben from being killed. Determined to use his abilities only for good Peter Parker becomes Spider-Man. But the life of a superhero is not everything that he imagined, with the need to make money, and lead a normal life, Peter has to balance his two personas. Spider-Man is the beloved hero, defender of his city from bad guys, large and small. Peter scratches a living taking photographs of his self in action, juggling his love life with Mary Jane and having to come to terms with the fact that as Spider-Man he played a role in the death of the Green Goblin who turned out to be the father of his best friend Harry. The pressures which pull Peter and Spider-Man are about to get a lot worse. When he encounters Venom, Peter and his friends will finally discover that duality can often lead to destruction...

Spider-Man 3, the novelisation of the film, by Peter David is out in time for the film. David is a well known figure in genre books. As well as previously having written, in book and comic book form, for Spider-Man he is well know for his Babylon 5 and Star Trek books. Novelisations are always difficult to review. On the one hand you don't want to give away too much of the plot, but as the plot is substantially the same as the film I leave it up to you. Warning - spoilers ahead.

The first thing to say about the book is that it's a busy affair with too many characters and themes to explore, leaving you with a feeling that much of it has had to be skimmed over rather than having the time to really explore.

The story plays havoc with the comics' continuity, especially with the origin and acquisition of the Venom symbiote. Originally Peter acquired the suit during the Secret Wars comic and returned to Earth with him. As well as Venom, both as the suit and as Eddie Brock, the book contains Sandman and the second Green Goblin.

Thematically, the book is also overflowing with good ideas, but maybe too many for one novel. Obviously, with the introduction of the suit David is able to explore not only the duality between Peter Parker and Spider-Man, but also the duality between Parker's normally good nature and the frustrated fury he feels over his inability to save his uncle's life. We also get to explore the two sides of Harry Osborne, as he struggles to reconcile his friendship with Parker, whilst at the same time blaming Parker's alter ego for the death of his father. Sandman is also presented as a torn character, on the one hand he is a loving father, on the other a villain. Only Venom has a clear agenda and a clear purpose.

The book is also about fatherhood and the relationship between fathers and their children. From beyond the grave both Peter's uncle and Harry's father still impact on the choices that the characters make. The Sandman is mostly driven to acts of villainy for a misplaced view of his responsibilities as a father.

Obviously Peter David is constricted by the original screenplay. These novels only really allow an author to expand on the action, letting the audience know a little more about what was going on under the surface.

I have to admit to not having seen the film yet, which is no bad thing when reviewing a novelisation. As a book, the story hangs together very well. Ok, so it may have too many characters and ideas for one novel, but that does not stop it being an engaging read. I'm sure that any fan of the film will find enough new stuff to make it worthwhile. As far as the film is concerned I'm just hoping that when I get around to seeing it, that the scene of Parker playing the piano and break dancing is a product of David's fevered imagination and not an actual fact.

Good novelisation, well worth an afternoon's read.

Charles Packer

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