The Tie-Ins That Bind: Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Chosen by Anonymous

Oh the irony. This was supposed to be a big grand entry for me while my thoughts on Buffy season 6 were a sidebar. That entry became two big entries. This will be but a bonus I think. But it’s a must.

Buffy’s final season is as final seasons go strong. It was written as the end and feels like it. There’s an excuse to cart so many characters in. It’s tightly crafted with only a few filler episodes. It’s funny and engaging. It’s flawed with an oddly light quality, an overcorrection from the previous season, but it’s midtier.

The novelization of season 7 is not midtier. It’s pretty badly done. It’s maybe one of the most ill conceived books I’ve ever covered. And that’s why it gets an entry.

I should point out episode novelizations were very common for this show, always themed around characters. Every major character (who wasn’t Buffy) got one. And by and large they’re great. Always competently done. Not needed in the digital age where you can carry a whole show in your pocket but a nice relic.

And Pocket did this a lot with Star Trek, especially the finales. I love the novels for TNG, DS9, and Voyager’s closing episodes, which were just quality farewells. And Buffy was very much the teen version for Pocket. So doing a novelization of the finale made sense.

What I’m about to say is entirely conjecture. I’ve been able to find pretty much nothing on the production of this book save for the information about Nancy Holder. But it’s my educated guess.

Here is what I think the plan was: Adapt the last episode of the show like the Trek farewells which largely stood alone. I think this was the plan but then they looked at the script and realized it made no sense standing alone, which it doesn’t. Buffy was one of the great barrier breakers in season long stories. So they tried to broaden the scope further and further before giving up and adapting the season.

But that’s a lot to dump on one writer. About the writer on this: I’m going with anonymous as the writer. Some editions including all online ones, credit Nancy Holder as the author with her standard acknowledgements thrown in. However some don’t and at the time it was known Holder did not in fact write the book which was flung out a month after the episode. My guess: if you were an employee in their division, you were given an episode script and told to write it into a chapter fast. A few key episodes might’ve been by professionals but this was not a pro enterprise as a whole.

How do I know? The quality varies wildly between chapters. Some are great like the premiere. Others like Anya’s origin ep Selfless are rendered incomprehensible with conversations paraphrased. This is not one person writing this.

Also this is the most poorly edited book I’ve ever purchased. Typos abound. Bad phrasing is constant. words are missing. Clunky is too nice a word for it.

What’s funny is I’ve seen this done well. Several X-Files seasons got episode guides I desperately wish were in digital form because they were so well assembled, often by talented writers. They amounted to season novelizations and were quite good.

This was rushed. A slapdash product to capitalize on the brand. Within a few years the license was dead at pocket books. This wasn’t the last novel released but it could’ve been.

And yet, I smile at it. It’s a relic of the beginning of the end for novelizations as a whole. Enterprise didn’t get a finale novelization. Fox abandoned novels for the X-Men movies after The Last Stand. Marvel abandoned them for adults after Iron Man 3. Star Trek Beyond didn’t get one. Discovery has tie-ins but no novelizations. Hell Orphan Black never got anything in prose despite intense heat! The medium is nowhere near a place where this could exist.

I’m glad it does though. It’s basically a book of recaps except somehow worse. But the material is good. It’s fun. Not good though.

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