Gavin G. Smith delivers a rip-roaring, top-notch and completely thrilling read!
The movie tie-in novel is, as I have said before, undergoing a welcome revival as of late. It’s great to see them start to return to bookshops and to bookshelves once more. I’ve lost count exactly how many I have collected over the years, whether it was ‘Gremlins‘ by George Gipe or ‘Return Of The Jedi‘ by James Khan, I collected them all. Some I have read several times, others just once and then put away for prosperity. But after a lull, they are returning once more. Some are, as always, just knocked out to take the money out of the reader’s pocket. Others are an attempt to do the story they are portraying justice, some succeed where others fail. But there are those that ACTUALLY do more than do the story justice. They exceed the story and, as this tie-in book demonstrates, are actually BETTER than the film it’s based on itself.
Bloodshot: The Official Movie Novelization | By Gavin G. Smith
The novelization of the ‘Bloodshot‘ movie has been written by Gavin G. Smith. And it is quite simply, a rip-roaring, top-notch, and completely thrilling read. It has been a while since a movie tie-in novel has had me hooked from a few pages in all the way through to the end but this one has managed it with ease. And to make things even better, the novel contains a short story at the climax of the main book regarding one of the characters contained within the main novel and explains how they became the way they are when we encounter them. It is a brilliant addition to something that has already given the reader an extreme amount of enjoyment. Smith has created something that is miles better than the film on which it is based but it also differs from what we see on the screen somewhat. But this is to the advantage of the book as the differences make the novel tighter, more thrilling, and infinitely more enjoyable.
The story is quite simple. Ray Garrison is a marine who has the unenviable ability to keep getting himself wounded during almost every mission he is assigned. But no matter what his body goes through, he always comes home to his loving wife, Gina. And he loves her with every part of his being. She is his world, his everything. On her part, she wants him to stop going away on these dangerous missions and getting himself shot or injured. Every time he comes home, he has a new scar added to his already vast collection. But she loves him all the same. Ray is returning from a mission in Mombassa where he has rescued a hostage, taking a bullet for his trouble. Gina is waiting for him as he returns. The couple takes a drive along a coastline and ends up at a motel where they share a night of married bliss. The following morning, Ray wakes up alone in the hotel bed. Gina has left him a note telling him she has gone out to get breakfast for them and so Ray decides to wash and shave ready for when she returns. Hearing a noise outside the bathroom, Ray calls his wife’s name to which there is no response. His marine training taking over, Ray tilts the bathroom mirror and discovers two men in the room with suppressed pistols. Realizing they have been discovered, the two men fire their pistols at Ray but instead of bullets, the guns fire darts at him. Battling and subduing both men, Ray exits the room to find his wife. Upon leaving, he bumps into someone walking up the corridor of his hotel floor. Ray suddenly loses control of his limbs and body, collapsing to the floor. He discovers the person he bumped into has used a portable injector to administer a tranquilizer to him and Ray passes out.
Upon waking, Ray finds himself restrained in a meat processing plant. His assailant is there, dancing to a classic music track playing on the radio. He introduces himself to Ray as Martin Axe. Although his kidnapper is in a jovial mood, he suddenly turns hostile and demands to know where Ray got his intelligence for the Mombassa mission, information Ray doesn’t possess. Axe brings out Gina and threatens her life with a bolt gun, telling Ray he either gives him the information he wants or he will murder her. Ray pleads with Axe, explaining he is not privy to the information he wants and only goes where he is sent. Axe understands this and realizes Ray is telling him the truth. Ray tells his wife that everything will be ok. Axe replies that it won’t be and murders Gina with the bolt gun in front of Ray. Enraged, Ray tells Axe he had better kill him too or else he will be coming for him. Axe thanks Ray for the advice and shoots him point-blank in the head.
Ray awakens with no memory of who he is, what he has done if he has any family, nothing. He is introduced to Dr. Emil Harting, the CEO of Rising Spirit Tech, a company that specializes in providing cybernetic enhancements for disabled US military personnel. Alongside him is KT, an ex-navy diver who has benefitted from RST’s developments after a gas attack in Syria destroyed her lungs, rendering unable to breathe. She has been fitted with an advanced respiratory system to keep her alive and becomes Ray’s confidante and chaperone as he finds out he has been renamed ‘Bloodshot‘ and he has been resurrected by RST and given nanotechnology in his blood which aids fast recovery of any injury he suffers including being shot. The nanites repair the damaged tissue, making Ray an almost unstoppable weapon. Harting’s other successes include Tibbs who was blinded in action who can now see via ocular implants directly into his brain and Dalton, who lost his legs to an IED and now sports a pair of robotic legs instead. Ray has no memory of who he is until one night when he and KT are having a drink inside the complex and the song that was playing when Ray and Gina were murdered plays through the speaker system, triggering a flashback for Ray and causing him to leave RST and to go out on a revenge mission using the resources he has been implanted within an attempt to kill Axe. However, everything is not as it seems.
Those who have seen the film will know exactly where the film goes from this point on but the book does an amazing job of bringing the events to the reader and expanding on them brilliantly. It is around the halfway point of the novel where the differences start to really appear and begin to make the book stand out from the material it is based on.
The novel is based on the film’s screenplay but it makes me wonder if Smith was provided with a different draft to the final shooting script as the end is totally different from the film version and includes a big climax which I would have liked to have seen on the screen. Either way, Smith has delivered a novel that to be completely honest, stands on its own merits and could quite easily be an original piece in its own right. And that’s the beauty of it. Gavin Smith has created something that deserves to be reread and then followed up with a sequel that will continue on the threads that he has left in his book. I for one would welcome it and would grab a copy at the earliest chance I got. And for that, Gavin Smith, I commend you.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Staff Writer and Books and Literature Correspondent for Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!
Editors Note | A big thank you to our friends at Titan Books for sending over our advance review copy.