After three TV seasons and 10 previous books, the “Roswell” saga arrives at its country-spanning conclusion, “Turnabout” (November 2003). Andy Mangels’ and Michael A. Martin’s novel, the wrap-up of the many threads laid down in “Pursuit,” finds different groups of heroes fighting little battles and doing little missions until it all comes together in a huge showdown. I enjoyed reading it, and the authors serve all the main characters well.
Roswell’s” book-based “Season 4” starts with “A New Beginning” and “Nightscape,” but the stakes seriously ramp up in “Pursuit” (September 2003). Authors Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin, who previously wrote “Skeletons in the Closet,” tell us that Max and Liz have now gotten married – as per the flash-forward at the end of Season 3 – so now all bets are off. There’s no continuity reason why Max, Michael, Isabel, Liz, Maria, Kyle or anyone else can’t be hurt or killed.
After launching “Season 4” of “Roswell” in book form with “A New Beginning,” Kevin Ryan also writes the second “episode,” “Nightscape” (July 2003). He continues putting the teens into genre situations not found in the TV series; “A New Beginning” is a small-town kidnapping mystery and “Nightscape” is a haunted-house horror story.
Executive producer Jason Katims says in the DVD commentary for the series finale of “Roswell” that a theoretical fourth season would’ve found the teens on the road, helping people with their powers while staying a step ahead of the Special Unit. The closing image of Max and Liz getting married at a rural church is a nod to what Season 4 might’ve been.
Laura J. Burns co-created “Roswell” with Melinda Metz (Metz wrote the “Roswell High” books and Burns edited them) and then co-wrote the popular episode “A Tale of Two Parties” (3.10). But her most impressive contribution to the “Roswell” mythos might be “Quarantine” (March 2003), the seventh book of the tie-in novel series.
In “Dreamwalk” (January 2003), the sixth book of the “Roswell” tie-in series, Paul Ruditis bridges Kyle’s trauma over the death of Alex at the end of Season 2 with his deepening friendship with Isabel, as seen in Season 3. I think this could’ve made for a striking episode, as it chronicles Isabel’s adventures inside Kyle’s head. It also would’ve called for two young actors: a 6-year-old version of Kyle, plus a 12-year-old boy who Liz and Max are babysitting over the weekend.
Skeletons in the Closet” (November 2002), the fifth book in the “Roswell” tie-in series, is the best entry so far even though it’s arguably the least plot-heavy book. By digging into the question of the alien teens’ origin, Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin remind us of how sketchily drawn the TV series’ backstory is. While “Skeletons” doesn’t expand the mythology all that much, it clarifies it quite a bit.
Mel Odom, who wrote many outstanding “Buffy” and “Angel” novels, makes an all-over-the-place debut in the “Roswell” universe with “Shades” (September 2002), the fourth tie-in novel. It’s a daring novel in a way, as it introduces a whole new alien race plus the supernatural into the mythos, but it doesn’t quite stick the landing. Set immediately after Season 2, “Shades’ ” “big ideas, shaky payoff” status actually fits well with the season gone by.
After the excellent “No Good Deed,” Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch take a step back with “Little Green Men” (April 2002), a simpler novel that seems rushed, since it has many more typos than the previous one. It’s a one-day read at 197 pages, with a one-track story. Its lack of surprises is a weakness, but it is a nice example of the Roswell teens’ (and sheriff’s) teamwork, as all eight main characters contribute.
Starting when Max heals Liz in the pilot episode, “Roswell” is a show about actions and consequences. The first tie-in novel,” “Loose Ends,” has fun with the question of “What if Liz ran into the guy who accidentally shot her?” But the second novel, Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “No Good Deed” (September 2001), is a more direct and robust sequel to a TV episode, in this case “A Roswell Christmas Carol” (2.10).