There are books that deserved to be adapted into movies. R. Patrick Gates’ Vaders deserves to be adapted into a video game. Consisting of little more than 384 very long pages of the main characters encountering monsters, running away from monsters, encountering monsters again, killing some of them, running away again, resting and repeating the entire process over and over again, Vaders is a video game in novel form and every bit as boring as you would expect it to be.
The plot, such as it is, is basically that of every zombie movie ever, except the people turn into zombies that are 20 feet tall when they’re stuck by glowing alien balls from space. Other than that, R. Patrick Gates’ Vaders traffics in every zombie movie cliche.
Two days after the Zombie attack, the police are shooting everyone in sight, black gangs roam the streets and the Mayor and the authorities have turned to cannibalism and human lotteries. And while you would think that some entertainment could be squeezed out of all that, you would be dead wrong because R. Patrick Gates has the characters stumble around the city running into a mix of racial stereotypes, the Italian criminal, the Jewish family in a Deli, the black gang, the gay couple who are all doomed to be eaten alive 5 minutes after they encounter them.
A few pages in, it’s obvious that you’ve read everything the book has to offer and it really doesn’t get any better from there. If you’ve seen one 20 foot monster eat a man/woman/child alive while chasing after a car, you’ve seen them all. Gates’ tries to vary it a bit by bringing in giant cats, pigeons, dogs and rats and finally has a mess of spider aliens hatch out of the humans, but none of that does anything but vary the monsters a little. R. Patrick Gates’ is a lot better at creating monsters than he is at creating believable human characters or advancing the plot, which is why Vaders would make a hell of a video game, but makes for a terrible novel.
While the blurbs on the back and the Amazon keywords make a point of emphasizing a connection to Stephen King, Vaders is a long way from Stephen King, filled with stilted writing, paragraphs of third person narrative observations about characters without getting inside their heads and is light on horror and heavy on the gross out. Horror is the expectation of being eaten by a monster, gross out is actually featuring page after page of monsters eating people, defecating, sneezing and farting, with no terror anywhere in sight.
R. Patrick Gates’ Vaders is part of a trend of action oriented horror/SciFi novels that remix existing tropes, tossing bits of horror movies, video games and SciFi novels into the mix, stirring together and vomiting it all up on the page. Gates cites everything from Doom to Stephen King’s The Stand, oddly leaving out his most obvious inspirations in George Romero or The Mist, but the whole thing is oddly joyless and flat.