Friday, June 02, 2017

Review: Personal: A Jack Reacher Novel

After reading (and thoroughly enjoying!) a real book, I didn't mind indulging in the guilty pleasure of listening to a Jack Reacher audio book. I've listened to Reacher before, so I knew I was setting myself up for a heady mix of detective work and ass kicking. In many respects, Personal, delivered on this. However, it fell down in a couple of areas, too.

First of all, the book seemed to drag on. I listened to nearly 13 hours of audio, to tell a story which seems like it could have been told in half that time. I guess it's Lee Child's style to relish every detail, and generally not have his characters be in any hurry. Which I sort of enjoy, too. But at some point, come on, not every bit of dialog needs to be so verbose.

I could forgive Child on this, as who wants to rush through a book you're enjoying? But my second critique is harder for me to let go. I just can't get over his choice of attaching a CIA officer to Reacher who turns out to be a timid, drug stealing damsel in distress. I understand the device of using a character Reacher has to educate, which in turn, educates his readers. But why make it a 28 year old woman, who comes off as a naive child? I'm not saying every member of the CIA is a trained killing machine, but at 28 years old you should have enough sense to think, hey: I've never done any field work in my life, maybe I shouldn't make some off-book mission my first try. Or, hey, it would be far less anxiety inducing to tell my employer that I'm on anxiety medication, rather than steal it and attempt to conceal it from an organization who's main purpose in life is to uncover secrets.

I'm not sure why I'm so offended by the arrangement, it just seemed sloppy and to play on an outdated sexist attitude.

Other than that, the book was solid Reacher. As usual, Child's has manage to construct the biggest, baddest and meanest characters ever, and Reacher is able to confidently wipe the floor with them. Ultimately, it was a fun read and I just hope that Child conjures up better characters next time.

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