I'd like to begin by taking a moment to mention those who have taken the time to mess with the average reviews of this book who have yet to crack open a single page--whether it be real or virtual. When is amazon going to abolish these enormous jokes once and for all? The author has NOTHING to do (for the vast majority) with e-book pricing. And yet kindle owner after whining kindle owner cannot STOP themselves from bitching about the price of a book they haven't even read in a space DESIGNED to review the CONTENT of the novel they are complaining about.
With that said, I DO feel that the pricing CAN be unfair--especially since the cost to just COPY an e-book is ridiculously low compared with actual printing. The pricing does seem excessive, but then again, so does gas, and yet we continue to pay it--and as long as people pay for it, the pricing won't be going down anytime soon. Gee, nobody is forcing these whining babies to BUY anything. So quit yer bitchin' okay?
On with an ACTUAL review...of a book I actually READ... Brad has been slowly, but definitely improving his writing since releasing his first novel some years back featuring Scot Harvath (Lions of Lucerne). Black List is at once amazingly compelling, and yet shockingly frightening at the same time. It really shouldn't surprise me that the Government has the ability to essentially spy on me at any given moment for however long they want--and yet as I read this absolutely riveting story, it scared the living H#!! outta me. This kind of power in the wrong hands (ie the US Government) can be used to justify incredibly shocking things. I have a hard time imagining my OWN Government may be involved in this manner, and yet I see how the country is going and how those in so-called power have abused it, and can hardly imagine how they haven't somehow used that power to do horrific and illegal things.
Scot Harvath is one bad mutha...he occupies the same elite circles as some of my all-time favorite fictional characters like James Bond, Kirk McGarvey, Jack Ryan, Dirk Pitt and soforth. The thing I really like about Scot is how human he seems to be even in the midst of terrible, life-altering situations. Sure, there is a certain amount of impossibility you have to factor into these storylines in order to achieve the action that todays readers require, but unlike a lot of the hero's that you read about, Scot just remains a cool dude. A man's man that you'd like to have as a friend, one you could call upon when needed--or at least one that you would LIKE to be able to call upon.
The story literally moves with the speed of an ICBM and rarely--if ever--lets up. Scots life is in grave peril from almost the very first page, and the list he finds himself on is nothing short of impossible to get away FROM--at least not without being dead, first. And yet Scot has no other choice but to find those responsible for having him placed ON the Black List and exposing them and as usual, make them PAY. Along the way we have twists, turns and the usual air of authenticity that comes from one who has obviously done his homework. There is GOOD reason why Brad Thor is spoken of as the 21st Century's Robert Ludlum--he really IS that good (and many would say better). If you want to read a cutting edge-of-your-seat techno-thriller, FORGET the terrible Bourne Identity sequels (starting with the Bourne Legacy), read some books by an author who really KNOWS how to raise your blood pressure with the careful use of the English language. A talent that is sorely lacking in the thriller genre these days...and yet one that Mr. Thor has in abundance.
This is Thor's BEST book to date, and that is saying a lot considering what he's written before. Black List is not only good, its stunningly great, and deserves much exposure if for no other reason than to educate American citizens of what our own Government is capable of. Knowledge is power, and to have too much is frightening, indeed. Kudo's Brad for yet ANOTHER winner. Now get on with your writing and give us another hum-dinger, okay?
"All of the technology contained in this novel is based upon systems currently being deployed, or in the final stages of development, by the United States government and its partners."
... and thus begins `Black List' by Brad Thor. I have never read a book that started like the opening sentence and have it turn out bad. This book continues that streak... in spades. To say this story opens with a shocker would be an unforgiveable understatement, so I'll just say that you will NOT be prepared for what awaits. While I'm a huge fan of all of Brad's work, I haven't gotten that "special feeling" about one of his books since `The Last Patriot'. Now to be clear for the slow ones (IE: Kindle owners complaining about price), I have loved each and every one of Brad's books, but every author has one (or two) books in their repertoire that shines just a little bit brighter than the rest. Stephen King has `The Stand', Eric Jerome Dickey has `The Other Woman', Steve Alten has `Grim Reaper', Danielle Steele has... (No. Not a chance), and Brad has `Black List'.
This go round, Harvath goes up against a power greater than anything he's faced yet. How great? Well... they have put Harvath on a list of people to be killed. Usually Harvath is the executer of list such as these but this time, he's the mouse. Per se'. The engineers of this list are a group called the ATS. This group has so MUCH power, so MUCH influence that it's rumored that God calls them before he allows it to rain on D.C. Unfortunately, people who have access to this much power usually don't have access to morals. Think of every terrorist attack that you know of, including 9-11, and multiply it by ten, and you might get close to the type of damage the ATS is planning for America. The only thing that makes it worse is that these are AMERICAN'S that have hatched this plan.
OK actually there is one more thing: (read the first sentence of this review).
We'd like to think that something like this is only achievable in sci-fi novels. It's not. We're on the Autobahn toward an attack like this as we speak. The overall premise to this book is the gathering and use of our digital data. Text messages, internet searches, GPS, eMails, downloads, everything is being watched. Everything is being recorded. Everything is being cataloged. I know you're saying that "yeah I've heard all this before". No. You haven't. Not like this. This book goes way beyond just being illegally tracked by our government. This book deals with what would/could happen if the power mongers who paid their way into office decided to make something happen.
Big Brother is watching, we all know that. What we don't know, or don't care to know, is to what extent? And what happens if Big Brother is a sadistic, power hungry sibling with an unlimited expense account? `Black List' tells us what the history is, what the current state is, and what the future will be like if we (the knowing public) continue to be more concerned about the next `Words With Friends' update than the next "internet security" bill being passed.
This book is blazing fast, even for Thor. And that's good because Harvath is being chased something fierce. When everything we do is monitored is it almost impossible to stay off the grid. Even more impossible... tracking down the guys controlling the grid who are also teamed up with the guys that are the architectures of the grid. This is bone fide Brad Thor book with all the globe hopping, covert operations, shady useless politicians, double taps to the head, up close kills, adrenaline on adrenaline, and pulse pounding storytelling that, if it cause my heart to race as I read, it must cause Brad a near heart attack when writing it.
If the technology written about in this book is true, and I'm 100% sure that it is; so too must be the men and women tasked to use it. And to protect us from it. Thank God for them and their love of America. The proof is in their blood, their sweat, their tears, and their lost lives.
on July 24, 2012
I have been reading every book Brad Thor has publish, if you want a roller coaster ride that will not stop and make you think at every hair pin turn then read this book and like me I read "The Athena Project" and got hooked and started reading all the books from the beginning just to get ready for Full Black and Black LIST, This is a must read!!!!
on June 25, 2013
A review by Anthony T. Riggio of Brad Thor's "Black List".
I had seen this book on the book shelves in books stores and chose to pass on reading it. It sounded like so many of the genre of books that deal with some former CIA, Delta Team member or Seal Team #(whatever). The hero is no longer in the service of their country but are hired on by one of the multitude of private contractors that seem to have become ubiquitous in the running of the government. It leads me to believe our "big and getting bigger" government seeks insulation for itself or setting up some future scape goat. Black List has all of these elements, including incredible physical feats that defy or perhaps provide some escapism for the great number of "couch potatoes" wannabe heroes who relish in these types of books.
This being said, Black List is well written and reasoned out and the author has some bona-fides that qualify him, unlike the growing number of vicarious writers who create these kinds of stories that seem to simply titillate readers who are looking for meaning in their dull lives.
What astounded me was how prescient the author was in writing this book given the disclosures of the NSA analyst Edward Snowden who "blew the whistle" on his perceptions of government abuse. Snowden was not a highly educated person but was making mega bucks, i.e., high six figure income.
I would have thought this impossible but as one of the characters in the book, namely Kurt Schroeder, is not only a drop out, but one who has previously committed criminal acts. The author's premise is that these types are so talented in their computer skills that the government will look the other way. I believe the motives might have included the value of compromised morality. Hard to believe but then fiction is not stranger than reality when we see the Edward Snowden debacle.
The book also points out the increasing use of third party contractors by our government believing them to be more cost effective. In the parallel current reality issue, the contractor is a huge contractor (Boze Allen) involved in so much of what our government does, including the war efforts in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
While I am critical of the premise of Black List, the books revelations support this theory, which I found scary, beyond anything the average American frame of reference could relate to.
I gave this book four stars because it does capture the readers attention and imagination. I received this book as a gift from a friend who shares similar concerns of a government that seems out of control and whose hypothesis is now reinforced by true life.
I would recommend the reading of this book because the theme is so current and worrisome for most Americans who fear that we are now living in George Orwell's world. This could be a wake-up for many of us.
Let me preface this review with the fact that up until this book, I was a huge Brad Thor fan but he has lost his mojo of late and this book is the epitome of that problem. Plot. What plot? The book opens with violence, pours on more violence which is exactly like the first scene (four guys against Horvath, emerges victorious and unscathed each time) and the only movement in the book is a change of location.
We know that a shadow group is trying to wipe out another shadow group but through fully 70% of the book, the reader has no idea why. It's just vignette after vignette of characters interacting in exactly the same way as the previous scene.
Really, there was no purpose to this book that I could determine. It was an exceedingly disappointing read and that didn't start to come together until the last 25% of the book. It could have been written as a 100-150 page novella and been a much better read at a much lower price.
There are so many excellent independent authors out there in the e world that I will no longer buy "bestsellers" that are supposed to be good just because of who wrote them. Clancy jumped the shark, Patterson did ages ago and now Thor may well be on his way to membership in the same club. Sad really.
The book description says that this is "An intense, page-turning novel that is action-packed and frighteningly real". I wonder if I read the same book which was a slow-moving, ponderous, boring tale about an unbelievable conspiracy. I enjoyed previous books by this author but with this one he really seems to have gone off the boil in an attempt to write something different.
I am not a conspiracy theorist and in this world of fast social interaction it is difficult to envisage mega computer-driven conspiracies that can take over control of government and the people.
Scott Harvarth is still the focal action hero but he is not the hero I remember. There is one part of the book where Thor takes about 2 pages to reflect on Scott's revulsion for using a knife instead of a gun.
Thor revisits Nicholas, a dwarf, guarded by 2 giant Caucasian Ovcharka dogs. Nicholas (nicknamed The Troll) was a baddie who traded information to the highest bidder, including notorious international criminals. This time Nicholas has mellowed to become a trusted friend helping to unravel the computer driven conspiracy.
Sometimes I thought that I was reading a different book to the one praised by so many reviewers. But as the book dragged on (it should have been half the length) and the conspiracy became more nonsensical, and the action so slow I had to drive myself to finish the book. The flying finale in the epilogue was almost the last straw.
I have discovered a number of excellent independent authors who can deliver intelligent, fast-paced page-turning thrillers that match and eclipse many of the best-selling published authors, especially those whose work seems to be running out of steam.
on November 3, 2014
This is my first Brad Thor book. These things are immensely hard to create and write and I don't mean to be negative or detract from Brad's wonderful success as an author. Further, this book was prophetic and important.
Know how most people say, "I couldn't put this book down"?
I couldn't wait to put this book down. I prayed for it to be over soon. I wished it was over.
I kept putting it down to play with the dog. I dreaded picking it up.
BRAD, YOU KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.
As I neared the end, I could NOT wait---wow, here's the backstory on what's really, really going down here, from the master spies themselves in a classic information dump, like a real dump. Know what I mean? Here it is, I'l summarize it: "Homina, homina, homina, homina, homina, hom." There ya go! POWERFUL sh*t, matey!
I confess now: at 88% through the book I quit. I just didden give a crap anymore. I don't care how it ends.
Brad Thor spins a nice intricate story. However, the story seems rote, predictable, slow, and lacks touches that tell me Brad personally knows about fear, death, and how it feels to loose one's freedom or be threatened. His gun knowledge is so weak as to be very irritating. I don't get the feeling he actually has any experience at all doing the things his characters do.
For intance; when the character Carlton hot-wires a car, the method seems right out of Youtube, to near-exactness. This event includes nothing about how it feels, maybe getting poked by a wire, sweat in the eye, fear of getting spotted---what really goes on---nothing. Only the Youtube rollout to near-perfection. Th entire book is like that, only full of errors.
For instance, the character Nicholas has custom-built guns because he's so small. He's so small that his SMG is a .22, which Thor tells us is too weak to do much damage. Well...the old .22 will kill very well, especially at the range described, if it hits heart, head, etc. Mossad and other agencies use the .22. Special Forces uyse the Colt Woodsman .22. Conversely, Nicolas' .45 in a mini hand gun would pack waayyyy more kick than any .380 or 9mm SMG. After running rounds through a Glock 36 compact I can't open or close my hand without pain for a week. So this is all merely irritating and too cute.
I did not like any of the characters. I thought the whole midget thig was silly, distracting, and needless as a device. I rooted for nobody. I was in awe of nobody. Horvath as a character is a bag of wet cement. Every "private citizen" Horvath calls upon for help instantly puts their entire life, family, fortune and freedom at his disposal, not caring one bit if they all die, etc. This is silly.
Brad: it doesn't work that way. It never worked that way for me in 35 years. People may help out here and there through loyalty or ignorance or fe3ar or for a fee, but for the most part they will run away or turn you in or kill you themselves.
HOWEVER! Thor is successful, and what the hell do I know, right? :)
I would have given this 2 stars, but it was prophetic, so i gave it 3. Brad, I apologize; I know this stuff is really, really, really hard to do, and you have talent there, but I'm not feeling anything authentic. And please don't do guns unless you consult?
Buy this book; you can't be alive in the wasteland of Today without knowing Brad Thor and his work. All authors are still learning and I feel Brad Thor will distinguish himself in new ways.
I went back and changed it to 2 Stars anyway---like I know anything about this I no right?? It was either that or Urget Care to get my eyes rinsed with peroxide.
on August 22, 2013
My second try at a Scot Harvath novel was more rewarding than the first. As opposed to "The Last Patriot", where the hero rarely seemed in real danger, the heroes in this book are in mortal danger and on the run from the very beginning, and Thor winds the suspense professionally throughout. The central plot is scary and believable, a cautionary tale that gets you thinking on how much information the government and other entities are collecting about you and already using to manipulate your choices and thinking. "Black List" moves very fast and has lots of action, although the ending is weak and rushed, as if Thor realized he'd set up too complicated a scenario and decided to unwind it quickly. We've been told of how the villain and his organization have files on everyone for their own safety, but those files seem to be forgotten by the book's end.
I continue to have problems with the video game-influenced world in which Harvath operates. Like "Call of Duty" and other first person shooter games, there always seems to be a cache of high tech brand name weapons and ample supplies of ammunition just lying around whenever Harvath needs it. (This sort of thing was lightly parodied in "Skyfall" when James Bond arrives at his ancestral home expecting a well-stocked gun room, only to find everything has been sold to a collector in Idaho.) This "stash of weapons" motif appears to run through all Thor's novels.
Another problem I had comes at a key point in the novel where [spoiler alert] Harvath becomes aware that a four man kill team has penetrated the ranch where he is hiding. He and a friend openly drive around confirming his suspicions. He decides not to return to the safe house and instead ambush the killers from behind. Really? Four highly trained operators have penetrated the property and not one of them is watching when the target drives off AND then no one notices that he doesn't return to the house? I found it convenient and hard to believe. Professionals, aware of their target's prowess, would have kept the target house under constant surveillance.
And though he pays lip service to conscience, Thor's heroes are not above stooping to a little bloodthirsty sadism when it serves their ends.
on January 14, 2013
I'm shocked by these reviews. I thought this book was terrible! It's boring, slow-paced, and the action that is there isn't suspenseful. It takes way too long to set up the back story, which is believable, just not interesting. This is my first and last Brad Thor novel. If you like action packed, non-stop suspense, read a Vince Flynn novel. Now those will keep you on the edge of your seat!
on September 14, 2012
Interesting concept. I found it slow to develop and somewhat confusing. It took
some time for me to identify the various characters and their relationships.
Too much detail. I probably won't read more of this authors work. Kind of
like Tom Clancy's books which I quit reading years ago.