Monday, 6 April 2015

Brianna Reviews // Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp

Published: 17th December 2012 (originally 1st January 1979)
Publisher: Graymalkin Media
Format: Paperback
Synopsis: High atop a Los Angeles skyscraper, an office Christmas party turns into a deadly cage-match between a lone New York City cop and a gang of international terrorists. Every action fan knows it could only be the explosive big-screen blockbuster Die Hard. But before Bruce Willis blew away audiences as unstoppable hero John McClane, author Roderick Thorp knocked out thriller readers with the bestseller that started it all.

A dozen heavily armed terrorists have taken hostages, issued demands, and promised bloodshed all according to plan. But they haven't counted on a death-defying, one-man cavalry with no shoes, no backup, and no intention of going down easily. As hot-headed cops swarm outside, and cold-blooded killers wield machine guns and rocket launchers inside, the stage is set for the ultimate showdown between anti-hero and uber-villains. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good fight to the death. Ho ho ho!
[This review shouldn’t really need the above synopsis, I mean who doesn’t know the general plot to Die Hard which this book is the basis for]

I first heard about Nothing Lasts Forever way back sometime in 2011in a newsletter encouraging people to read the book first before watching the film. Until then I had absolutely no idea that Die Hard was based on a book – This is where I admit that Die Hard is my favourite film, and I don’t care if you judge me for that. Unfortunately when I immediately tried to buy Nothing Lasts Forever I couldn’t, it was no longer in print and all the second hand copies were ridiculously expensive. I broken-heartedly pushed the idea of reading it out of my head. In late 2013 Caragh found out that it was back in print (it’s only writing this review that I realise that it came back in print only a year after – oh well). Once it was attainable there was no doubt that I would read it. I’m also sorry that this review is going to continuously refer to the film, it’s just too hard not to.

Joe Leland (aka. John McClane although it is important to point out that Leland is NOT McClane) is flying to LA to attend a Christmas party at his daughter’s office (that’s right, not his wife). Joe isn’t young; he was in the war before being a detective and at the time of Nothing Lasts Forever he is self-employed as a consultant on security and police procedures. After arriving at Klaxon’s tower block, Joe goes to freshen himself up; which is convenient as a group of 12 terrorists seize control of the building holding the guests hostage. Leland then spends the rest of his time trying to stop the terrorists.

I think the thing that surprised me most about this book is the fact that Joe Leland is not a hero, he’s not dashing and his thoughts are rather dark at times. It’s quite gritty and most importantly this book isn’t Hollywood, (though it does take place near Hollywood) so if you are looking for action where the hero saves the day and everybody. This is not your book.

 Another noticeable difference is that the makeup of the terrorist group is different in Die Hard the terrorists are all male and motivated by greed, in Nothing Lasts Forever a number of the group are young females and they are idealistically motivated. I think it’s a shame that the film sexistly wimped out of killing women, I understand that it came out in a different time, but the book could stomach it a whole decade earlier, I think that if Die Hard was made today it would feature the women. 

The book is written from Joe Lelands perspective. In the film the spaces between the action are filled with McClane’s amusing mutterings to himself. In Nothing Lasts Forever Thorp uses the down time to explore Joe Lelands past; His time in the war (WWII), his career as a detective, the breakup of his marriage, the breakdown of his relationship with his daughter (he didn’t like her husband), his ex-wife’s death and rekindling the relationship with his daughter. He also thinks through strategy (it helps). Over all you come out of the book feeling that you really know who Leland is, I suppose in a way in the 4th Die Hard Film the John McClane in that is as close to Leland as he gets.

In some places I found the descriptions of the action hard to follow, in some places being able to picture the film helped me to keep track of what he was doing as a lot of the action was taken right out of the book – in fact I have to give the film credit for mostly being fairly true to the book – including the chair bomb down the lift shaft (sorry no Yippe-Ki-Aye Mother******), the fire hose stunt off the side of the building, the glass in his feet. I did not expect it to be so close, which is fantastic as you get the same feel and action from the film but with a whole lot more character depth and grit. 

The head police guy is just as much of an ass, at one point they even hang Leland out to dry, luckily Al is there the save the day. And the news teams are as lecherous as they can be. I like Al Powell, he seems like a general all round nice person, dragged into something huge when all he really wants to do is go home to bed. I think he might be the only main character who’s morals/actions aren’t up for debate, (so long as you discount the incident at the end – I’m still shocked)and he also provides some much needed character interaction for Leland; it breaks up the long stretches of his reminiscing. Leland also has another member to his team in the form of Taco Bill who lends a hand with this impressive radio equipment.

Overall I loved the book, I especially liked the depth to Leland (you would hope he had some as the entire book is centred on him and for the most part he is alone). I also like the fact that it’s not all cut and dry. Even Steffie, his daughter isn’t an innocent party – right and wrong in this are really all in a grey area. And I even learned something: that LAX is the only airport known by its baggage code… I genuinely thought that was the airports name… apparently not, which is good, it’d be an odd name.
I would recommend this book to anyone who even remotely liked the film and to anyone  really unless death, gun fights and explosions isn’t something you like!

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