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Thursday, February 17, 2011

First Blood by David Morrell

Decent, but not Morrell's best work

The copy I have of First Blood includes an interesting forward by the author in which he discusses the Rambo phenomenon that swept the world after the Stallone movies were made. That forward was written several years ago and the Rambo legacy continues today. Just last night I saw a commercial for a Nicholas Cage movie that mentions Rambo twice.

David Morrell
Anyway, this is Morrell's first novel and it is not bad. Morrell tries to work in several serious themes and tries to make it a piece of really violent literature rather than settle for just a bit of escapism. In fact, this novel was used for several college and high school classes as a novel to discuss until the Rambo movie phenomenon overwhelmed the books.

Even though this was regarded highly enough by some instructors to be used in the classroom, I think that it missed the mark a bit too much - the rivalry between Rambo and the sheriff was a bit too contrived and the Special Forces officer sent to help with Rambo never really worked well for me. He was too aloof, too uncommitted to his soldier (Rambo) or to the people he was sent to protect.

As an action thriller this book seemed overblown - it reminded me, ironically, of the Rambo II movie (Morrell discounts Rambo II and Rambo III because he had little say in the screenplays. He wrote the novelizations in an attempt to salvage a bit of the flavor of his original character) - too over the top. Just too much.

I rarely say this, but now I have said it in two of my last three reviews - the movie is better than the book. The motivations of the Rambo character are more defined (even though the sheriff and deputies are reduced to stereotypes of redneck country cops) and, ironically, the action in the blockbuster Hollywood action flick is more believable than in the book.

I rate this book 3 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: First Blood

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