65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting First Installment
The last thing Charlie West remembers is going to sleep after one of the best days of his life. That morning he wowed his high school classmates with a black belt demonstration at school, only to have the girl of his dreams write her phone number on his arm. Later in the day Sensei Mike encouraged Charlie to follow his dream of being an Air Force pilot, and even an...
Published on April 15, 2009 by Jake
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A great book, but climax leaves too many unanswered questions
Before reading "The Last Thing I Remember," I knew a little bit about Andrew Klavan. I knew he'd written books that had been turned into movies like True Crime and Don't Say A Word. I also knew he was a conservative and his last book, "Empire of Lies," had been criticized by some for actually containing a character that believed in God and loved his country. The first...
Published on May 28, 2009 by Bill Garrison
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65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting First Installment,
The last thing Charlie West remembers is going to sleep after one of the best days of his life. That morning he wowed his high school classmates with a black belt demonstration at school, only to have the girl of his dreams write her phone number on his arm. Later in the day Sensei Mike encouraged Charlie to follow his dream of being an Air Force pilot, and even an argument with his friend Alex couldn't take away the buzz of an unforgettable day. Charlie falls asleep on top of the world only to wake up strapped to a chair battered, bruised, and bloody. As Charlie tries to make sense of the situation he soon discovers he is being held captive by men who want him dead. Using his black belt skills he finds a way to escape only to find out things are much worse than he could have ever imagined.
Edgar Award winner Andrew Klavan takes his first foray into young adult fiction with this riveting first installment of The Homelanders series. This is a fast paced thrill ride carried effortlessly along by the first person narrative of Charlie West. From the intriguing opening hook we are whisked along on an action packed jaunt that is full of twists and turns and is impossible to put down.
In the midst of the shootouts and riveting hand to hand combat scenes, Klavan builds character depth through Charlie's flashbacks of the last day he remembers. We soon find out that Charlie is not just a good kid, but someone that has a strong faith and a great love for his country. It's these solid foundations that help Charlie find the strength to face the overwhelming circumstances in front of him.
The Last Thing I Remember does everything the first book in a series should. It grabs our attention with a hero to root for and delivers a plot that will have readers begging for more in the end. Andrew Klavan gives action thriller fans a story they will love, laced with some powerful messages of honor, duty, and sacrifice. This is only the beginning for Charlie West and I can't wait to see what's in store next.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, but it feels unfinished,
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I finished "The Last Thing I Remember" the other day, and my stepdaughter finished it last night. (It speaks well for the book, no doubt, that she started it last night at bedtime and didn't go to sleep until she'd finished it!)
We both liked it -- the action was good, the premise was very interesting indeed. My stepdaughter felt that it was begging to be made into a movie -- which, given the bankruptcy of ideas currently reigning in Hollywood, seems a safe enough prediction.
She felt, however, that the book didn't have enough of a point to it. I disagreed on that -- a boy who suddenly finds himself in strange and dangerous circumstances, who must figure out who he is and what to do next, seemed a fine premise to me.
On the other hand, we both felt that the book leaves too many issues unresolved. (Why does our protagonist not remember ANYTHING of the past year?... we've seen nothing to even suggest how this could be possible. We get a brief glimpse of his parents reacting to his predicament, but not enough, and nothing at all from his Sensei; that didn't feel right either.) Granted, it's the first book in a series, but leaving such major issues unresolved makes the ending unsatisfying. Perhaps it would have been better to resolve the major issues, at least partially, and leave one or two minor questions as enticement to read the next one. As it is, I may read the next Homelanders book, hoping to figure out what happened -- but it'll be out of irritation, not excitement.
Nonetheless, I did enjoy TLTIR for the most part. Reading an adventure story with a center-right perspective was also refreshing; they don't seem to be thick on the ground these days. I found it a bit heavy-handed at times, but not annoyingly so. I did wonder when the protagonist had a crisis of conscience about himself, but never for a moment about his country (which seems to have dealt him a cruel hand); but perhaps that, too, will be explored more in later books in the series. The brief cameo appearance by Winston Churchill was great! -- I hope we see more of our hero's inspirations and role models, and how he is helped by them.
All in all, an enjoyable read. I'm encouraged to check out Mr. Klavan's other work. Keep 'em coming!
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Captivating,
I bought this book as a gift to my grand-daughter so I took a Sunday afternoon and read it myself. It was a good read for a young person, full of suspense and held my attention through to the end. Which sometimes, if the book isn't good, I will just get up and leave it. I didn't have that problem with this book. The only disappointment was finding the sequel won't be out until next year. It's nice to be able to read a book without having to cringe at the language and message, especially when it is geared to our young people.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Promising. Maybe. I don't know.,
Let it first be said that I hold the so-called Young Adult and Teen genres to the same standards that I hold books aimed at an older audience. Just because kids and teens happen to be younger does not mean their books should be of lesser quality in any way.
And so that's what I have in mind as I write this review--which I may rewrite one day in the future, after I read the other novels in what could potentially be an incredible series. But whether this Homelanders series becomes another Great in the realm of YA/Teen really rather depends. It depends on how complex, both in terms of plot and thematic concerns, this series becomes.
Should The Homelanders fulfill the potential I sensed in the 3 hours in which I devoured it (we'll get there later), I'd rewrite this review in a heartbeat and give The Last Thing I Remembered a hearty 5-star. However--and I don't want to spoil anything--if Homelanders doesn't go to that level of depth that it could achieve, it'll get a 3-star for being a run-of-the-mill, America-rules-EveryoneElse-drools thriller. I'm not a fan of those whatsoever.
But since I haven't read the sequels, I'll tell you what I do know about The Last Thing I Remember.
1. It's ridiculously fast-paced. It took me 3 hours to read, but I was reading late at night and into the morning, where I was reading at 2/3rds if not half speed.
2. It's 100% kid-friendly over the age of, say, 10. No bad words, no suggestive language, the main character is a morally-grounded good student.
3. It was a lot of fun to read, part of its appeal. I found myself trying to think of all the reasons Charlie woke up in this chair. Aliens, wizards, alternate universes, ultracomplex conspiracies. It gets your imagination going, that's for sure.
In the end, though, I still struggle to arrive at a conclusion. I can tell you that I recommend this book, even if just for a fun read to kill a few hours, to both adults and teens, but whether I can say if it's "good" or "bad" just...depends.
It could be any number of bad Bond movies, or like CSI Miami, where the main character can do no wrong, where America and the rest of the West can do no wrong, like any number of thrillers that features a good ole American boy facing down stereotypical Nazis and Russian Communists, only a bit more modernized.
Or, The Last Thing I Remember could join the ranks of the Bourne novels/movies, or any other number of fantastic thrillers/action works.
If truth be told, I have a lot of hope for this series. Even though it is somewhat predictable, and even though certain elements revealed in the second half of the book (I won't say which, because I don't want to spoil them) left me worrying that this series will go the shallow route, I have reason to suspect--I see the potential--for Homelanders to be, in a word, awesome.
Foremost among those clues is the fact that I'm so determined not to spoil anything at all. And with that said, I'm not going to drag this thing out any longer, because I don't know. I just don't know how this series is going to go, and unfortunately, that's dominating any thoughts I have on the book itself.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definite Actioner And Psychological Puzzler,
Award-winning writer Andrew Klavan has penned a humdinger of a suspense thriller for the young adult market. And he's not holding back the trademark action, pacing, and psychological tension that mark his other books. Not only that, he channels a riff from The Bourne Identity in the creation of his hero, Charlie West.
The book seized my attention immediately by opening with Charlie tied to a chair by unknown assailants next to a table filled with blood-curdling torture tools. It's really like a 007 opener in one of the movies. Then it shifts to what Charlie last remembers, going back to when he was a tongue-tied seventeen year old karate black belt who was still afraid of asking out a pretty girl.
This back-and-forth between present and past put me off a little at first because it felt like stalling, then when I realized that the past actually held clues to what Charlie was doing there, I read both with equal interest. Honestly, I might not have been nailed to the book if I'd just gotten introduced to Charlie while he was in school struggling through young love and working out at the dojo. And I couldn't have handled the sustained tension of the escape without knowing more about the character.
Klavan pulls both off, then makes a hat trick of it by hiding how long it's been between those two points in Charlie's life and what has happened in between. The Last Thing I Remember is a great mixture of thriller and psychological puzzle. Even as Charlie makes his first escape, the author drops in hints and pieces of the puzzle and lets the reader know they're not getting to see everything he's got up his sleeve.
I sat with this book from beginning to end, pulled in two directions. I wanted to know more about what Charlie was going to do, and I wanted to know more about what had been done to him. And I couldn't decide which I wanted worst.
When it comes to writing nerve-wracking suspense or bone-crunching fight scenes, Klavan is a champ. He doesn't waste or mince words, driving straight to the tension or the action. The pages on this book turn way too easily and will keep unwary readers glued to the story until they finish it. The subject matter is a little heavy-handed in regards to nationalism versus story. I appreciate the author beating the drum upon occasion, and the story plot is definitely tied to these views, but every now and again it did detract me from the story.
The Last Thing I Remember is a great book for reluctant readers, especially male readers, because it focuses a lot on the young male mindset. Charlie may be a little too "good" and "straight-laced" for some kids, but others are going to definitely see him as hero material.
Since this book is obviously marked as Book 1 of The Homelanders Series, expect the deliberate cliffhanger ending. The next installment comes out the first of 2010 and readers are going to be anxiously awaiting it. However, there is a teaser chapter at the end of this book that will even further whet appetites, so at least readers will know a little of what is coming.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great Story line,
This book is more heavily steered towards a young adult and teen age group, but moreover is has a very moral concept, however it's up to the reader to figure out what the moral is... Overall it is a great book and a real page turner.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A great book, but climax leaves too many unanswered questions,
Before reading "The Last Thing I Remember," I knew a little bit about Andrew Klavan. I knew he'd written books that had been turned into movies like True Crime and Don't Say A Word. I also knew he was a conservative and his last book, "Empire of Lies," had been criticized by some for actually containing a character that believed in God and loved his country. The first book I read by an author is usually from the library because I want to make sure I enjoy the author before buying there books. "The Last Thing I Remember" is a young adult novel for teens, and it is published by Thomas Nelson, a Christian publisher.
The target audience and publisher did not bother me a bit. This book takes off from page one. Charlie West is being held captive. He's bruised, beaten and burned, and then he hears his captors talking about killing him. Charlie escapes and is now on the run, being pursued by thugs. The most amazing thing is that Charlie doesn't know why. He can't remember how he got there. When the book is not covering Charlie's quest for freedom, Charlie recalls the last day he can remember, including going to Karate practice and asking the girl of his dreams out on a date. Charlie desperately tries to put together the pieces of his memory to figure out why he is being hunted by killers.
There is a lot to like about this book. It is fast paced and Charile is a good hero and a good role model for teenagers. Although this is published by a Christian publishing company, there is nothing overtly preachy. Klavan definitely lets the reader know how he feels about the country and God and it is refreshing to hear an author stick up for America for a change.
There are a few things not to like. I believe this is a change in genre for Klavan, publishing in the young adult Christian category. I think fans of his will enjoy the book, but it won't be what you usually expect from Klavan. Also, Klavan sets up an elaborate plot where Charlie has no idea what happened to him. There are murders and secret men and also the Homelanders. but those plots are for the rest of the series. I was very disappointed how abruptly the book ended, with tons of unanswered questions. I understand Klavan wanted to entice me to read the second book, but absolutely none of the questions raised in this book were resolved. A good series book will answer many questions and leave a few unanswered, and this book didn't do that. I can equate this book to the opening episode in a TV series like Lost. There is just too much not explained.
Bottom line, this is a really good book for the genre. Readers will just have to be prepared to wait for the next book in the series. WARNING: This book is released by a Christian Publisher. His previous book, as mentioned above, Empire of Lies also contains a Christian character. But, it is also full of bad language, sex and violence that readers of this book may not enjoy.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A lot of promise but no punch.,
An interesting premise -- but good grief, is this author, Andrew Klavan, long winded! How long does it actually take to describe a five minute escape?? Apparently, at least 97 pages. Some may love the minute attention to detail -- and usually I might even be considered one of them -- but Klavan made this supposed high-paced thriller, drag, and drag, and drag... I hate to admit it but I found myself skimming entire passages, sometimes pages -- just to get to another action or scene. And then he repeats everything the poor hero is thinking over, and over, and over... to really make sure the reader gets the point. Is it really necessary to repeat Churchill's quote over, and over, and over? Really, there's dramatic effect-- and then there's redundancy. I get it all ready: "Never give up." So, I didn't "give up" on the book, and hung with it until the end-- just to find that all of this could have been summed up in a nice, three page Prologue... to lead us to the real adventure, which is sure to come in Book 2, called The Long Way Home -- scheduled for release in February 2010. Seriously, The Long Way Home? Could it be any longer than this 336 page novel that said so much of absolutely nothing. I give it two stars for being an interesting story concept about a thoughful, smart, conservative teenage boy. I really wanted to like this book for those very reasons. But really, I can't with good conscience recommend this when there is so much better to choose from. Like "The Hunger Games." Oh, the cover is also nice.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My son took it away,
I was reading this book before I gave it to my teenage son; but when an injury had him down with ice packs and heating pads, I thought it might relieve his boredom for a little while. He won't give the book back!! He has even turned down playing Xbox when his best friend came over for a visit, and instead started telling him about the book. Now they're both hooked on it. I love it!! The story is fast-paced and sucks you right in. The main character, Charley West, is one that my son and his friends indentifies with and I think he's a great hero for them. Kudos to the author for a great read and thanks for giving my kid something to read that has some good values in it.
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NERVE RACKING ADVENTURE!!!!,
FIRST RATE ADVENTURE FOR THE YOUNG ADULT READER. THE SUSPENSE NEVER LETS UP, AND THE ENDING WILL LEAVE YOU ANXIOUS FOR THE NEXT INSTALLMENT TO ARRIVE. WELL WRITTEN, BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS---JUST REALLY A GOOD READ.
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The Last Thing I Remember (Homelanders, Book 1) (The Homelanders) by Andrew Klavan (Hardcover - April 28, 2009)
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