Author: Melinda Metz and Laura J. Burns
Release Date: 2005
The first season of Buffy features some ridiculous storylines and villains, including an episode (“Teacher’s Pet”) where Xander’s teacher is a beautiful woman who is actually a praying mantis looking to eat her mates. Colony takes place during season two of Buffy and features a very similar villain although with the added danger of mind control (similar to the episode “Bad Eggs”). With a plot reminiscent of two actual episodes, one would expect that this book nails the overall feel of the early episodes of the season. There were a few issues that keep that from being the case, starting with that recurring Buffy novelization problem of visions by the protagonist. One gets the feeling that a lot of these writers rewatched the movie before writing their books as Buffy’s dreams are constantly referenced in the books whereas they were totally disregarded in the show. The other biggest problem in this book was Buffy’s slow reaction to the danger her friends were in.
In Colony, the school is visited by a guest speaker who is actually an Ant Queen whose goal is to reproduce and build an Ant Colony. Buffy sees many of her friends and Watcher under mind control, and even suffering from body horror out of Cronenberg (Xander develops a giant thorax, other characters develop Ant mouths) but routinely takes no action or doesn’t acknowledge the seriousness of the situation. It’s difficult to criticize a book with a ridiculous plot (and a giant demon that resembles the Lucky Charms Leprechaun) for not taking things seriously enough, but the characters treating the situation as not serious removed any tension from this book.
This is a Stake Your Destiny book where the reader makes choices and tries to navigate through to a happy ending. In that regard this book did a better job that either of the previous two installments (although I preferred the story more in The Suicide King). The choices offered to the character were more in line with actual paths Buffy might take in the show, and I made it through with only one wrong choice. My one wrong choice involved whether Buffy should ask Xander about what was going on with him or go patrolling and look for Angel. It was one of those situations where Buffy made a few other decisions after the one I made which ended up killing her but overall it didn’t feel completely unfair. This book also didn’t have the same problem as Keep Me in Mind where the choices were obvious based on page numberings which one you should pick. Here I jumped back and forth across the book and reached the end so if there was a more direct path through it I missed out on it.
The cleverest part of this book involved the purpose of the personality test that the students were all required to take (determining what role they’d have in the ant colony). The twist felt like a well thought out reason for the villain assuming the identity that she was posing under. I still have another Stake Your Destiny to go and am hoping for one that feels accurate to the series and offers realistic choices laid out in a non-predictable manner. So far each of these books has been lacking in at least one of those areas, but I am still enjoying the general idea of reading these and navigating my own way through a Buffy episode.