Overall Impression: A solid book, better than its predecessor.
(To read my review of the first book from the Jack Reacher series, Killing Floor click here)
Jack Reacher, alone, strolling nowhere.
A Chicago street in bright sunshine.
A young woman on crutches.
He offers her a steadying arm.
And turns to see a handgun aimed at his stomach.
Chained in a dark van racing across America, Reacher doesn’t know why he’s been kidnapped. The woman claims to be FBI. She’s certainly tough enough. But at their remote destination, will raw courage be enough to overcome the hopeless odds?
Again I won’t bother expanding on the plot with this book, it’s thriller genre means it’s best not to know more than the blurb.
I approached this book feeling positive, but also wary. Those of you that have been following my blog for any length of time will probably have noticed my qualms with the thriller genre, as well as the author’s previous book. So after reading the first 100 pages or so I was very pleased to see that Lee Child had already fixed several of the complaints I had about the first. For starters, his writing style is far more readable. Previously he used an endless array of short sentences with little variance in an attempt to create tension and a military precision feel, that linked back to his lead character. While it made sense in theory, I found it somewhat irritating. (Probably because as Nisha suggested: Repetitions of any nature will become exhausting.) His sentences in Die Trying however, are far more varied, and although he still has a preference for short sentences it is no longer detracting from the story he is trying to tell. However, that being said, his writing style still doesn’t really do anything for me, and I am not that keen on it. He tends to go more for precision and math’s in his description whereas I tend to prefer the inventive and creative ones, but that is just my personal preference.
I also thought the plot of Die Trying was much better than Killing Floor. It creates more of an enigma. The first half of the story is essentially Reacher and a woman named Holly being transported across America in a truck as they try to work out why they have been kidnapped. I really enjoyed the first half as I was introduced to Holly as a character. Additionally, I found the way the author slowly unraveled the information as to why they had been taken through Jack Reacher’s keen observation skills very impressive. Again I was struck by how much research had gone into the book, something which I always appreciate as a reader.
However, to be brutally honest, I was bored throughout the second half of the book. Once the reason for the characters being taken was revealed I lost all interest. The entire second half was essentially them trying to escape and failing. Trying to escape again, and failing etc etc. It was repetitive, boring, and just un-needed really, the book was about 200 pages too long. It also got quite political, with references to the Russian Civil War and Pearl Harbor. This could have been really interesting, but it didn’t really go into enough detail for that to be the case.
Die Trying also had better character development than it predecessor. I found Jack Reacher to be far more interesting, and although Lee retraces old ground in terms of recapping his history as if it is new information, we are also given a little more insight into his personality, and to be specific, his fears and weaknesses. This was a big bonus for me because as I’ve mentioned in the past, I do love my flawed characters!
I found the lead female Holly much more likable than his previous female ‘heroine’ (And I use that term loosely!) in Killing Floor. She is portrayed as tough, independent and resourceful much like the female from the last book, only this time, I believed it.
Unfortunately, although Lee Child has made progress with his primary characters, he still leaves much to be desired with his secondary ones, and this was a big issue with me seeing as they still rack up a reasonable amount of pages on their own. The FBI agents working to get Holly Johnson fell flat for me, there was nothing interesting about them that made me want to read about them. Likewise the ‘bad guys’ in the novel, apart from the main man in charge also felt underdeveloped. Here are some examples of speech taken from the book: “This better be good bitch” “Talk about what asshole?” “You sure, asshole?” “You know this bitch?” “I asked you a question asshole”. Unfortunately, I kid you not. It had me sighing in exasperation. Not only is it horribly repetitive but also incredibly stereotyped, it made me want to laugh, it reinforces every irritating bad guy cliché out there. And not only that, it’s all black and white, no (I shudder every time I use this expression now) shades of grey. Which instantly makes the bad guys uninteresting. I can’t sympathize with their plight, I can’t secretly route for them just a little bit, and I can’t hope that somehow events will turn out well for them because that’s all they come across to me as, stereotypes.
So although Lee Child has made a lot of great progress with this book, I’m frustrated. It’s still not enough for me to raise my rating of it to a 4 star like I was hoping. I’m not sure if I will bother to continue with this series seeing as there are 17 books in it to date with possibly more on the way. I don’t love the books, and I don’t hate them, they sit very firmly in the ‘meh’ category for me, which makes me think it probably isn’t worth continuing with them – unless someone can persuade me otherwise. I’m sure people that are big fans of thriller books will enjoy these though, it is just not my favourite type of genre, and it seems the more thrillers I read, the more certain of that I become. It would take a really stunning thriller I think, for me to give it a great score. So that is who I would recommend it to; fans of aeroplane paperback thrillers. It is more likely to appeal to males but that doesn’t mean females can’t enjoy it too. It still has some brutal violent scenes like the first so I would suggest 16+ with the ideal demographic probably being 30-40.
Writing Style: 3/5
Character Development: 3/5
Would I recommend this book? I wouldn’t really recommend it, unless it was to a fan of thrillers.
Book Cover: http://rha.chookdigital.net/titles/9780553505412.jpg