With its early chapters concentrating on a gun-toting student on a killing spree at Sunnydale High, THE EVIL THAT MEN DO was understandably shelved because of the same events that disrupted the end of season three, delaying its release by over a year.
All the usual elements in a BUFFY book, especially a Nancy Holder one, are present and correct - Boco del Infierno, tons of flashbacks, an enemy that knows Angel from way back, no real sense that the book really fits into the TV series' continuity and Willow and Buffy falling out. It must be all those lattes they're always drinking in the novels.
This time around we're introduced to a slayer of Slayers, a one-time friend of a Roman Slayer who was forced to fight for her life by killing demon after demon in the gladiators' ring.
Not for the first time in the BUFFY novels, the flashbacks are actually more interesting than the present day stuff. It would be nice to think that these glimpses of previous Slayers and Angel's past are part of the 'official' continuity but they're probably just as likely to be contradicted or simply ignored by the television series. Of course, it's possible that the flashbacks seem more interesting simply because we're getting just the 'highlights' from the story, but even so, I would liked to have read more about slaying Roman style than a Scooby Gang who seem out of character compared to how they're portrayed on the screen. There's also an awful lot of action scenes which rarely work well on the page.
THE EVIL THAT MEN DO isn't the first BUFFY novel to feature a bust-up between the Scoobies, although it is unfortunate that the book's delay has meant that it has been published after the likes of POWER OF PERSUASION and PRIME EVIL which have also featured this sort of thing. As with previous Buffy novels, there's a whole possession thing causing a lot of the arguments, which is a handy way of avoiding having to get the characterisation nailed down properly.
This is disappointing because one of the great things about BUFFY is the characters and the fact that they're not static. The snapshot approach adopted by Pocket Books doesn't help and neither do the facts that that the characters don't act as they do on TV, and that what happens to them is unlikely to be referred to again. The usual complaints about the BUFFY novels aside, there's still things to enjoy about THE EVIL THAT MEN DO. The flashbacks are enjoyable and the story is interesting even if the characterisation isn't that great, with a few things that we've seen before. It's just a shame that it's not really been worth all the wait. BACK TO THE TOP