The Predator: Hunters and Hunted novel review

Action-packed official prequel novel sets the stage for Shane Black's upcoming Predator follow-up...

"The rains kept coming as he headed to his ship to properly clean and tend to his wounds and get a night's rest. This encounter had inspired him, and he looked forward to greater hunts that were still to come. He felt it with every fibre of his being. There would be a glorious hunt soon."

Following on from last year's Alien: Covenant prequel novel, Twentieth Century Fox and Titan Books now bring us an official prequel to Shane Black's upcoming movie sequel The Predator (which hits UK cinemas on September 12). But whereas author Alan Dean Foster's Alien: Covenant - Origins completely ignored the franchise's titular beasties in favour of a less-than-riveting tale of an attempt to sabotage the Covenant mission prior to its launch, writer James A. Moore here delivers something much more likely to satisfy franchise fans.

The Predator: Hunters and Hunted sees another of the extra-terrestrial big-game hunters arriving on Earth (in this case, the hot and sticky Florida swamplands) and setting off to bag himself some trophies. However, clandestine government agency Project Stargazer has spent years preparing for such an event – and when the bodies start piling up an elite strike team dubbed the Reavers are sent to capture the creature and recover its advanced technology. Suddenly, the hunter has become the hunted...

Okay, so we're not talking about the heights of literary fiction here. But as far as movie tie-ins go, The Predator: Hunters and Hunted is perfectly entertaining. Moore does a solid job of giving each of the Reavers an individual voice and personality, keeping you invested in their attempts to track the Predator. And speaking of the Predator, Moore also succeeds in taking us inside the alien's head and exploring how it reacts to situations - this certainly gives a fresh spin to the concept to anybody who is only familiar with the franchise from the earlier movies. The story's action-packed set-pieces (of which there are quite a few) are well delivered, with a firm handle on the geography of the action and giving it a real sense of energy and pace (not to mention, plenty of blood and gore).

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book, however, comes from its world-building. From its exploration of the origins of Project Stargazer to its introductions to several characters set to appear in the upcoming film (including Sterling K. Brown's scheming CIA agent Will Traeger and Jake Busey's xenobiologist Sean Keyes, son of Gary Busey's Peter Keyes from Predator 2), the book sets up some ideas that we really hope Shane Black's film will continue to work with.

While we're in no doubt that your appreciation of the new Predator movie will be completely unaffected by it, The Predator: Hunters and Hunted is an enjoyable, fast-paced movie tie-in that sets things up nicely, doesn't outstay its welcome, and leaves us keen to see where things go for Project Stragazer in the film. And if you've ever wondered who would win in a fight between an unarmed Predator and an angry alligator, this is definitely the novel for you...

The Predator: Hunters and Hunted by James A. Moore; Titan Books, £8 (paperback)