Horror hot take: I’m not that into Aliens as a film. But I dig the heck out of Jenette Vasquez’ take no crap, tear everyone to bits attitude. Without question, I absolutely adore the heck out of everything I have read from V. Castro. While Vasquez ended up being quite different from what I expected, it also ended up being much better.
The story starts off with a deeper delve into Jenette’s upbringing and background, fleshing her out into more of a rounded character than we got in the book. We don’t spend all that much time with her, though. Instead, we get to meet her daughter and son, Leticia and Ramon, and follow their lives after her death. Leticia goes into the military, Ramon goes to work at Weyland Yutani and both of their lives run head first into our beloved Xenomorphs.
Vasquez isn’t as gory or crazy as Castro’s other work, but my lady knows how to make a story move. Even with with the fpcus on the personal and internal life of the main character, the action hits hard. However, where Aliens feels very cold and emotionally detached to me, Castro’s chops with building character give it all much more heft and value. The time she spends building a connection to Leticia pays off in the extra impact it gives once those damn acid-blooded space bugs throw everything into chaos.
Now, I want to take a moment to talk about sex in horror. It isn’t an unusual thing. But, it’s usually executed blandly at best, when it isn’t straight-up offensive. Bargain basement letters to Penthouse with no actual heat. Castro, though, she makes the sex actually sexy and it never feels like it is just tacked on. So few people manage that and she deserves respect for it.
All told, Vasquez does exactly what I look for in an expanded universe story. Castro uses the world and creatures to tell an intense, kickass story from a new point of view. I am 100% there for it and cannot recommend enough.