Die Trying by Lee Child Review 3/5

Overall Impression: A solid book, better than its predecessor.

(To read my review of the first book from the Jack Reacher series, KDie Trying  by Lee Childilling 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
Originality: 3/5
Entertainment: 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.

Overall 3/5

Images Sources:
Book Cover: http://rha.chookdigital.net/titles/9780553505412.jpg

24 thoughts on “Die Trying by Lee Child Review 3/5

  1. I haven’t read these books and probably won’t now 🙂
    17 books in the series? Wow, that’s a lot. If you do get around to reading another, post a review.

    • Haha that is probably for the best I think, seeing as like me you seem to prefer your supernatural stuff. 😉

      Aggh I know! Seems a little overkill, although this book and the first one didn’t seem to really overlap (I didn’t even have to warn about spoilers regarding the first book!) so from that, I’m guessing you could probably quite easily read them as stand alone books.

      I will definitely post a review if I read another one! Always great to hear from you. 🙂

  2. I think I read Tripwire a long long time ago, and it was good as I needed a thriller/mystery. Nice review!!
    I used to love to read the Clive Cussler books with Dirk Pitt, those are fun save the world, get beat up and be smart and ruggedly handsome books. They used to keep me up way too late to make sure he survived and saved us all from some nefarious plot twisted by a rich but evil mastermind/secret society. 🙂 Though mystery/thrillers aren’t my genre of choice these days, I like to mix them in every once in a while too.

    • Thank you! 🙂

      Ohh right that’s interesting, that’s the third book in the series, I think. I might get around to reading that one, we shall see! I’ve never heard of Clive Cussler. I just looked him up on Amazon though and it seems like he does similar sort of stuff to Lee Child, and your description sounds pretty similar to Lee Child’s books as well!

      You’re right, it’s great to mix it up now and again, 🙂 that’s something that I try conciously to do, and one of the reasons I keep picking up thrillers even though I’m not keen, and hey, even if I don’t end up liking them, at least it makes me appriciate the books I do like even more! 🙂

      • That is true! I never thought of it that way. BUT, I do find if I read too many of the same genre they lose their appeal and I get bored. But if I mix it up, they feel fresh again. Gotta love that!! 🙂

      • Yeah I completely agree! 🙂 I’ve noticed a lot of people have themed book blogs e.g. they review ONLY YA or ONLY fantasy etc and I just think it would get so boring! I mean, I’m definitely partial to some YA but they all have very similar themes, characters and situations, and the same goes for other genre’s.

        Definitely gotta love that! 😉

  3. Ha, I was just about to start reading your review and my mum glanced over, saw the picture and said ‘oh, Lee Child? I used to read Lee Child. Who’s the protagonist?’ to which I replied ‘Jack Reacher’ and she said ‘Oh, I like those books. I enjoyed them’ I have no idea how many she’s read though.

    It’s a shame he didn’t pique your interest enough with his improvements but to be honest they don’t sound all that great. Nice review though, enjoyable as always (especially the quip I assume to be about fifty shades of grey :P)

    • Haha, so nosy! 😛
      But yeah, I think that confirms my point really, they are just not my sort of book but a lot of other people obviously enjoy them. I imagine – like James Bond they find the hero aspect escapist and fun, but that is just something that has never really appealed to me, I don’t really even like James Bond, and everyone likes him! :s

      Yeah, it’s a shame, I was really hoping they would! But, no they’re not that great in my opinion (not even ONE dragon or hobbit to be seen, the horror! :O )

      Thank you! 🙂 Haha, yes the quip was definitely a little dig at Fifty Shades of Grey. 😉

      • Haha, she totally is, like the nosiest person I know! Oh completely, James Bond isn’t that appealing at all because there’s nothing particularly likable about the character.

        Haha, it would be awesome if there was one, like maybe they could’ve kidnapped a Hobbit as well and if they were wondering where they were going he could’ve just turned round and said ‘Mordor’…or perhaps Isengard just to make it somewhat similar to that youtube video 😛

        That book is doing my head in, there are references to it everywhere, I got into the car this morning and male radio hosts were talking about it!!!!

      • Ah so glad you agree! I know a lot of people would probably stare at me horrified for confessing it, luckily you’re not one of them! 😉

        Haha so true! Sounds like a good plan to me, it would have made the book SO much better! Ohh I love that Youtube video, it’s like I almost get transfixed by it and I can’t stop watching, and it just gets more funny each time it replays!

        Ugghhh me too!!! I did think about doing a post on it but then I thought no, it’s not worth my effort, and I don’t want to give it any MORE publicity than it already has. It repells me everytime I go on Amazon when my suggestions are full Shades of Grey books. Bleeugh!

    • Haha, ohh dear.

      I say if you are interested in reading them, go for it! 🙂 I think you might actually quite like these based on the subjects/settings you write about in your own books. Like I said they are just not really my sort of genre, very rarely do I come across one that I like, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be more enjoyable for others.

    • Thanks mj. 🙂 I hadn’t really heard anything about the series before I read it, but I had seen the front covers all over the place, but I never realised that they were all part of the same series!

      One Shot is the novel they are basing the movie on, it’s the 9th book in the series. Somehow I don’t think I’ll reach that far before the film comes out haha.

  4. Hey, Shame you didn’t like it. Haven’t gotten round to reading Tripwire yet but when I do you can read what I think of it and see if you do want to read it.
    Also have just read through the comments other people have made and the one about Clive Cussler. I have one of his books as dad likes him and I’ve read it and it wasn’t too bad. Kinda went on for a bit though. You can borrow it if you want to
    🙂 xxx

    • Sounds like a good plan to me. 🙂 Speaking of books, how’s the olympic reading challenge thing going? Have you read many books for it yet?
      Ohhh right cool. Hmmm….we will see I think, I’m not too sure I want to try another thriller right now seeing as their not my favourite books, and I want to finish the millenium series which is kind of thriller-ish as well. I would like to borrow the last book for that though if it is ok? 🙂 xxx

      • Haha, cool. Not sure when I will read it though. currently re-reading Eragon as I want to read Inheritance… Haha
        That really isn’t going all theat well at all. I haven’t really read anything for it. Partially because I haven’t properly chosen what books to read for it…
        Fair enough, I have it for when you want it 🙂
        The last book? Have you read the second one? But yeah, it’s fine 🙂 xxx

      • Ooooh cool, as you know I did that too, it felt like the right thing to do somehow. 🙂 I’m reading Inheritance now, it’s SO GOOD! So get to it 😉 I’ve almost finished it now I’m currently in the middle of the big finale.

        Ohhh dear, could the Inheritance Cycle count as one of the challenges maybe? Ohh well, it’s not the end of the world. 🙂 I never realized how difficult reading challenges would be to complete, I’m used to choosing my books on whims and I find it really difficult to force myself to read certain books!

        Yeah, you let me borrow the first and second, but I never got around to reading the last, the same goes for Lord of the Rings lol. 🙂

    • Awwh wow, thank you. 😀 Looks like your doing pretty well as it is though!

      Also just so you know, your name link isn’t working so if I click on your name it doesn’t go to your blog, it comes up with an error instead. Just thought I’d let you know in case you want to fix it. 🙂

      • I’ve tried changing it but I’m not entirely sure why my name links back to ‘thewordmessiah’. Any ideas?

      • The only thing I can really suggest is going to Dashboard > Users > Personal Settings > scroll down to the bit that says Website > and enter the full address of your blog again, and then save it and see if it works. Maybe the links gone funny or something.

        Hope it works! 🙂

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