For the third Spider-Man movie, we have not only the regular adult novelization (courtesy of Peter David as usual) but also a "Junior" novelization - sanitized and simplified for young teens and pre-teens. This has been done by stealth for previous films, offering a couple of smaller junior texts which combined give most of the plot. This time it's official - the Junior Movie Novelization is here.
This is standard kids novel size, a little larger than an adult paperback from the front. 140pp of text, plus a bonus 8 pages of color photos in the centre of the book.
I must confess, I didn't read this novelization cover to cover. I'm not going to read the adult novelization in full either. Instead, I skimmed through, with particular interest in the tone of the writing and in what was included and what was excluded.
First, the writing. The writing style is utterly obvious. There's no subtlety here at all. Every emotion is explicitly stated. If somebody is angry, we're not left to guess at that fact just by them having shouted at somebody. Instead, we're told they're angry. The same with love, sadness, fear and the whole shebang.
Secondly, the content. As I guessed, a fair bit of the more nasty interaction between Peter and Harry is skipped. Harry's death threat to MJ about Peter is not mentioned. Harry's courting of MJ is played as entirely Harry being in love with her, and not based on his desire to make Peter suffer. Also, Peter grabs MJ in the Jazz club, instead of actually hitting her.
There are a few scenes that are included in the book that didn't make it into the movie. Flint makes a visit to the doctor with bags of clearly stolen money, which the doctor agrees to accept (not very ethical these doctors apparently).
I will confess right here and now that I don't see the value of novelizations of blockbuster movies. They're done purely because they're expected, not because of any value they add. Are there really people out there who would consider a novel (Junior or Adult) a substitute in any way, shape or form for an action spectacular?
Are there kids out there who would read the book but aren't old enough to see the movie? My eleven year old daughter loved the film. I saw a seven year old boy there who enjoyed it. So no, it's purely for a sense of completeness that this book was written and I have reviewed it. It's not because it adds anything.
As for the book itself? Well, it's as arid as eating dry cat food without water. The pedantic and explanatory writing style is completely unpalatable. Are kids so dumb that they need everything explained? How are kids expected to grow as readers and learn to infer and read between lines if they're not given books that make small demands upon them. No, this book is purely filler. It's the literary equivalent of shredded paper packaging.
I can forgive the sanitizing of the content. Men hitting women is difficult enough to explain in any context. Also, Harry's brutal treatment of MJ is hard to explain, I accept the call to leave that out. But nothing can excuse the dull as ditchwater treatment of what was included.
Boring, boring, boring. Take your kid to see the movie, explain that hitting women is never acceptable, then buy them a real book on the way home. One and a half webs.