Full Review: Halo: Contact Harvest is easily one of the most iconic halo novels in the expanded halo universe. This novel offers the origin story of the primary conflict of the series, and gives a more in depth look at some of the iconic characters seen throughout the books and games. With a massive load of responsibility on its back, Contact Harvest has to combine world building with telling a good story. My job here is to tell you why it failed.
Halo: Contact Harvest was written by Joseph Staten, who is a recognised writer in the halo community. He has worked with game creator Frank O’Connor and has helped develop the story of halo over the years. Contact Harvest was one of his first steps into the halo novel community, and while it was generally accepted well by the fans, anyone who takes a critical look at the book may see some things we as fans may not have wanted to notice the first time through.
The book follows the story of Avery Johnson, a young marine who went AWOL from the UNSC after a drunken night out. He is deployed to the planet Harvest to deal with the insurrection, whilst a coalition of Alien Races called The Covenant slowly make their way to the human controlled world at the farthest edge of occupied space. When these two civilizations meet, the possibility of peace lingers. Due to insubordination and the wrong move by both sides, war breaks out, and the genocide of the humans on harvest commences. Many different events occur over the course of the book, ultimately ending in the evacuation and Harvest becoming a battlefield for years to come.
The story is overall fairly convincing and the decisions made by the majority of the characters are understandable, but looking back on the whole thing, you can tell Staten was somewhat limited to what he could do knowing the end result had to be war between the Covenant and humanity. Due to this limitation, the story suffers from a lack of suspense, as the only characters worth caring about are confirmed to appear in the later novels or games. Having your protagonist be a notable halo character makes any sense of danger quite moot.
Although the plot is fairly well made and put together, the story overall is drawn out. Just thinking of the book makes me want to fall asleep. My first attempt to read through the novel ended in me shelving the book halfway through. Staten tries to cram too much into a small period of time, and the predictable nature the story takes makes it about as interesting as a football game with a score of 42-0 in the 4th quarter.
Staten did his best, but overall the story suffers not from a lack of ideas or characters to move the plot forward, but due to the inevitability of the whole situation: Harvest must fall, and this is just the story that provides the specifics to the whole situation. I recommend this book only for those who absolutely need to know said specifics or perhaps are just incredibly bored with nothing better to read.
Final Score: 5/10