A movie novelization is sort of an interesting phenomenon --- an author is working off of someone else's story, which has been adapted into a screenplay format, and reshaping the substance into his own literary version. As each medium is unique in its presentation, this requires a skillful application of imagery and characterization to approximate the intensity that moviegoers will experience; and the challenges for the novelist in adapting the storyline for the reading audience can be formidable. In the case of VERTICAL LIMIT the screenplay was fashioned with big screen visuals in mind and all the effects that today's technology can provide. Mel Odom, no stranger to the novelization process, has crafted a sensational adventure based on the movie by the same name that delivers heart-stopping suspense from the prologue to the final page.VERTICAL LIMIT is a story of courage and the enduring bond between a brother and sister. Peter and Annie Garrett shared a love of mountain climbing until a tragic set of events took the life of their father on a family expedition. Peter never climbed again; Annie became a world renowned expert, following her dream to scale the heights of the most difficult peaks on every continent. Now Annie has joined an expedition led by a billionaire adventurer, Elliot Vaughn, to climb the second highest peak in the Himalayas --- the K2. Vaughn is the predictable threat, determined to conquer K2, whatever the cost. When their treacherous mission turns into a disaster, Peter must rely on his rusty skills and the experience of a suicidal recluse to rescue his sister from the life-threatening extremes at 27,000 feet. Fighting against the clock, the rescue team faces the added peril of hauling explosives up the face of the mountain while a massive, killer storm rolls rapidly toward their destination."Cyril turned to put the water bottle back into the pack, but his foot slipped on a patch of ice under a thin layer of snow. He fell heavily, and his foot struck the nitro pack. Immediately, the nitro pack took off down the slope as if it were on runners. Taking two long strides, Cyril threw himself at the pack, trying desperately to grab the nitro canister. He landed on the powdery snow, sending a gleaming rainbow-streaked cloud of it flying into the air. Then he was sliding along the slope as well, gaining speed like an out-of-control bobsled...Monique dug her own ax into the snow and went prone, her other hand extended to reach for Cyril...She missed him by inches, watching in fear-filled frustration as Cyril skidded for the dropoff less than fifty yards away."
Alternating between the dramatic rescue attempt and the sobering scenes of the expedition's survivors trapped in the deep recesses of an icy cave, there's more than enough chilling suspense to keep readers on the edge of their seats. And given that readers have a propensity to argue the merits of books versus movies (or in this case, the reverse), Mel Odom's spine-tingling novelization will certainly give the debaters plenty to chew on.
Reviewed by Ann Bruns on January 24, 2011