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Snakes on a Plane
Christa Faust
New Line Cinema, Black Flame, 416 pages

Snakes on a Plane
Christa Faust
Christa Faust's publishing career began in the mid-90s with short fiction in such anthologies as Splatterpunks 2, Love In Vein, Hot Blood, Darkside, Revelations, Subterranean Gallery, and The Mammoth Book Of Vampire Stories By Women. Her first novel -- Control Freak, a noir-ish mystery set in the New York S&M scene -- was published by Masquerade in 1998.

Christa Faust Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by David Maddox

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"I've had it with these $#@!^%-ing snakes on this $#@!^%-ing plane." Many feel the film, Snakes on a Plane, was created simply to hear Samuel L. Jackson deliver this crowd-pleasing line. Actually, that scene was added months later along with some nudity and gratuitous violence to bump the film from a disappointing PG-13 to much more desirable R.

Of all summer movies of 2006, Snakes on a Plane was surrounded by more anticipation and high-hopes than any of its brethren. Coupled with mass internet buzz, word of mouth and a brilliant promo where Jackson actually calls with a personalized message, the hype was astounding yet ironic that the entire plot is right there in the title.

However, this is not a review of the film, but of the novelization and before you ask, the film was not based on a book, this is the book based on the film. There are a few spoilers included so if you don't want any of the story ruined I suggest you go back in time about six months and seal yourself in a cave on Mars with your fingers in your ears as there's already enough info in the public consciousness.

The overall plot is simple. Hawaiian surfer boy Sean Jones witnesses a Triad mob killing by gangster Eddie Kim. FBI agent Neville Flynn (Jackson) is sent to escort the kid to Los Angeles to testify. Kim manages to smuggle thousands of snakes onto their flight. The snakes get loose. Carnage ensues. It's good, bloody fun and director David Ellis said "This is like the movies that you used to be able to go see, that I used to see as a kid. You'd go to a movie, you'd be entertained, you'd be scared, you'd laugh, you would be on the edge of your seat."

What could a novelization possibly add to the overall experience that is Snakes on a Plane? I couldn't in good conscience review this book without seeing the film. Novelizations hold a peculiar rank in the printed world lexicon, designed to add to the cinematic experience for those that really need to be immersed in this world. For example, the novelization of WaterWorld includes a sequence where the Mariner gets a name and Dryland is revealed to be the top of Mount Everest… which is actually included in the three and a half hour version of the film… anyway…

After reading the book, I was intrigued to see how closely the film matched (compare David Brin's The Postman to Kevin Costner's film version… and that would be the second Costner reference I've made in as many paragraphs). Writer Christa Faust is very good at back-story. In fact, the first ten minutes of the film are told in 130-plus pages. Most of the characters who are killed in the initial onslaught of snakes have incredibly detailed histories and adventures that got them on Flight 121. The large lady in the muumuu was attending a BBW (look it up online, I dare you) getaway in Hawaii. The honeymooning couple ran an Chihuahua rescue shelter. Even the two attempting to join the Mile-High Club in the bathroom have an entire chapter devoted to their meeting and whirlwind romance across the islands.

It's hard to really pin this book down as good or bad. True, the film is a darn lot of fun. The novel, while not particularly well-written, does manage to create full three dimensional characters. Most of the passengers and crew are cartoon-y on screen, which doesn't always work in written form so Faust had to make them real people. And, I'm as surprised as you, it works. Faust gives Rapper 3G's a nice paranoid obsessive compulsive psychosis and it's impossible not to envision Jackson speaking as Neville Flynn. She captures his cool, bad-@$$ attitude perfectly, but also makes him human, questioning his relationships after his failed marriage.

If you're a Snakes on a Plane junkie this is something you'll have to read. And trust me, it's an excellent conversation starter in ANY situation. It usually begins with "What the heck are you reading?" and then a surprised dialogue about how long the book is.

2006 will be remembered as the summer a film called Snakes on a Plane was released and almost lived up to its own hype. Whether you saw it or not, everyone was aware of the phenomenon. Years from now this film may even achieve cult status on par with the Rocky Horror Picture Show (hint, hint). The novelization is a part of this and, at the heart of it, added to my personal enjoyment of those snakes... on that plane.

Copyright © 2006 David Maddox

David Maddox
Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox has been many things, including Star Trek characters and the Riddler in a Batman stunt show. He holds a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University, and has written several articles for various SF sites as well as the Star Wars Insider and the Star Trek Communicator. He spends his time working on screenplays and stories, acting on stage and screen and giving tours at Universal Studios Hollywood.


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