Nothing really happens until the 16th chapter, page 87 ... unusual for a Jack Reacher novel. Lee Child likes to set the foundation in detail. I realize that it's necessary to a point, but this novel, unlike the others I've read, focuses primarily on strategies, hypothetical situations & scenarios, and way too much detail about the artillery and ammunition used or not used as in some cases. All the technical stuff such as velocity of bullets, ranges, angles, specifications, material used, etc., I mean pages of this type of stuff. "Personally," this reader just wanted him to get on with the story. The knock-down drag out fist-fighting is much the same, blow by blow description of how it went down, to get the bad guy ... and when he finally gets the bad guy, which we all know he is going to do, it seems anti-climatic.
I've skimmed through this part of his novels in the past, but found myself tempted more often by this one. I've read all the Reacher novels and enjoy his character. It pains me to give such an acclaimed author a rating as low as a 2-star, but I'm trying to be honest here. If you haven't read Lee Child before I would pass this one over. The series can be read out of order, each novel can stand alone, but it's more enjoyable and you can see how the character of Jack grows if you start at the beginning with book 1: "The Killing Floor" and go from there. It is a great series.
Disclaimer: I was provided a complimentary pre-release ARC of this work by Amazon for my unbiased, true opinion and review on Amazon.com, of which any opinion I give for review always is the truth, like it or not, IMHO.
on September 9, 2014
Had Trouble Finishing This One…
I have read all the Jack Reacher novels numerous times and enjoyed them immensely—until this one.
I pre-ordered from Amazon and counted the days until it arrived. After the first few pages it was obvious this book was different. What happened?
Jack Reacher is famous for his habits. He buys clothes every few days and dumps the old ones in the dressing room. He only bought clothes once. Jack Reacher folds his clothes and places them under the pillow at night. He didn’t in this book.
Jack Reacher thinks seconds ahead of everyone else and has the ability to make decisions in advance that benefit him, we don’t know why he does something until later and then ping we figure it out. He didn’t in this book.
Jack Reacher likes to hitchhike. He didn’t in this book.
Jack Reacher always gets the girl. He didn’t in this book.
Jack Reacher is witty. He isn’t in this book.
Is this a Jack Reacher imposter?
I really had trouble finishing this book. Why change something great? Why fix something that is not broken? I do not think I will attempt to read it again.
on September 14, 2014
Personal is one of Lee Child's least effective Jack Reacher novels. Once noted for novels with hallmark action scenes, Mr. Child's Personal is tepid, although it seems to start well with a planted newspaper on a bus which is a call to action for Reacher. Unfortunately, there are perhaps 4 principal action scenes scattered throughout the book lasting perhaps 6 pages in total, with a great deal of wasted space as Reacher travels from the United States to Paris, to London and elsewhere in an attempt to stop an assassin from killing world leaders. Throw into the mix a man Reacher sent to prison fifteen years early, an inexperienced CIA/State Department rookie analyst named Casey Nice--a name belonging in a Bond novel--assorted thugs, ruthless Serbs, and others and we end up with a cliché-ridden piece about a worn-out Reacher.
Reacher is over the hill as an action hero. He says in the book that his father served in WWII and his mother worked with the French Resistance as a young girl during that same war. All of that places Reacher close to 60, hardly the same man he was nineteen years or so ago when he came on the scene. Now, he is ready to be put out to pasture; yet, Mr. Child seems to think that Reacher is ageless, although he does limit the amount of action and fighting to a minimum. But the Reacher that readers know and, generally cared about, is gone. This Reacher seems to be looking ahead to Social Security, Medicare, and retirement.
It is curious that, while Mr. Child pairs Reacher with an inexperienced, twenties-something analysis, there is no sexual tension there; it is much like a grandfather/granddaughter relationship. In fact, Reacher is intimately involved with no one, although he does imply that he might have had a lover before he found the newspaper on the bus.
Beyond his age, Reacher is placed in an unbelievable plot beginning with a failed assassination attempt on the French President, a sort of audition for the best assassin in the world, and the usual lies and misdirection that seem to be the fashion when various agencies such as the State Department and the C. I. A. have to work together.
All of it leads to a resolution that seems to come from nowhere, but is clearly identifiable as soon as a central character appears, and the assassin is pursing someone other than a head of state. The reasons for the final target being chosen are extremely murky; how that is resolved is as an afterthought although, had it succeeded, it would have lead to another direction in the Reacher series.
One of the more distracting parts of the novel is Jack Reacher constantly working the numbers in his head--sometimes even sharing them; one time that is fascinating, but quickly becomes tedious and appears to be designed to replace the relative lack of action. Poor Reacher is almost showing signs of early dementia, reminding the reader of someone who is constantly reliving the past or is focused on some tiny, manageable part of a life that has slipped by.
There is a lot of padding and repetition in the story, which only highlights the weak plot; remove the excess baggage and there would be a relatively tight novella. Instead, it appears as though Mr. Child was forced to have Reacher repeat himself so much to "flesh out" the novel so it would reach it the required length of 300 - 400 pages for mystery novels today.
The characters are all weak cutouts, stereotypes with no depth, merely set pieces moving along the turgid plot. Reacher still has problems using a cell phone, only changes his underwear after 3 days or so--which means he must be really a challenge for those who work with him--buys cheap new clothes rather than wash his, and now just goes through the motions of doing what his bosses tell him to do. He is a plodding middle-aged man who should be retired. As mentioned earlier, he is nearly 60; let him live in a home for retired heroes where he can share his past adventures with others who might be reliving their own glory days...just don't call Reacher an action hero.
One final point: The writing style is not that found in the earlier books by Mr. Childs. Perhaps Personal was written by someone else, since Mr. Child has directed his efforts toward movies; indeed, recent books by Mr. Child are little more than film scenarios. Since most of the Reacher novels have been optioned for the movies, perhaps Mr. Child sees that as his goal, now, rather than raising the bar for writing better novels. The use of Tom Cruise, a 5' 7," under 150 pounds actor to play a 6' 5", 250 pound force suggests that a serious compromise was made just to get a Reacher book on the screen. A second Cruise/Reacher film is in production. Where has Reacher gone?
on September 10, 2014
What the what?? Waste of time. I think that Lee Child really got sidetracked after allowing Tom Cruise to portray Jack Reacher in that dog of a movie. He must still be reeling from that catastrophe. The book started out pretty good with an interesting premise but then got bogged down with all the factions and characters and the ridiculous and tedious speculations about distance, velocity, time, blah de blah blah blah. Stupid resolution. That's a fact, Jack.
on September 4, 2014
Let me save you the trouble of reading this book, and the money buying it. No spoilers. Mostly because that would require something to spoil.
I'll start by saying I've read every Reacher / Child book, and most of them twice. But this one and the last few are just total garbage. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING happens for the first half of the book. Could it be more boring? Way to phone this one in, Lee- if you even wrote this tripe. Boooriiing... Then Jack gets in a brief fight, 1 page, then another 10% of the book, then maybe 5 pages of action, then nothing until the finale.
Oh wait, I'm sorry, "nothing" isn't exactly accurate, the whole book reads like some inane Facebook update bred with a Fodor's Guide Book. Please, devote another 9 pages to what a wall looks like and document every worthless minute of every day. I get it- you like to describe things, Mr. Child. Here's an idea: Describe a decent book where things actually happen. Clearly Child missed Leonard's rule of writing: Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
If you can't tell, I'm actually angry at how stupid this book was. Just painful to read. Was anyone else wanting to pull their hair out every time Reacher went on, and on, and on about the stupid Zoloft? Leave her alone, you nosy bastard. And let me get this straight, Reacher can always tell the time with his superhuman internal clock down to the minute, but he asks questions like, "What day is it?" Stupid.
This book, however, is still on my reading recommendation list. It just moved from the "I recommend you read" column, to the "I recommend you tear out your eyeballs to avoid reading" column.
Thanks for wasting my time.
Edit: I swear I'm a nice guy in person- but, another thing that pisses me off about this book are all the fake glowing reviews. This is so clearly all part of an orchestrated marketing campaign to manipulate the general buying public and prop up a lame product. It's like the publisher had a meeting and was like, "OK guys, this book is awful, and we know it's awful- the question is, what are we going to do to get in front of this thing?"
I always promise that I won't read another Jack Reacher series by Lee Child and always break my promise because I want to see what Child has done this time to continue to breath life into this long running series. In PERSONAL Jack Reacher moves on from his nomadic life in the US to face up to a threat to the peace of the world.
PERSONAL starts with a bit of a bang when Reacher arrives in Seattle, reads a discarded Army newspaper left on the bus and sees that one of his senior officers from his Army days wants to talk to him urgently. The first shock to the system is that within a couple of hours Reacher finds himself travelling across the US again, but this time he is the only passenger in a luxurious Army executive jet. At the other end he meets two Generals and a couple of CIA operatives (female and pretty of course) who brief him about an unsuccessful sniper attempt on the life of the French President and they believe that the sniper will target a forthcoming G8 meeting of world leaders. The punchline comes when Reacher is told that the main suspect, a former US sniper recently released from 16 years in jail, is also targeting Reacher because he was the military cop who put him behind bars.
All this sends Reacher on the same jet over to Paris to check out the unsuccesful shot. There he meets heavies from the intelligence services of France, Russia and the UK who are chasing down other top snipers who may have gone rogue. The chase then takes Reacher and Casey Nice, one of the CIA operatives (female and pretty of course) over to the UK, undercover this time, to prevent the assassination of one or more world leaders.
In the course of trying to save the world almost single-handed, Reacher takes on powerful Serbian and British gangsters, takes out more victims in unarmed conflict at one time than ever before, and meets an opponent who is considerably taller, larger and heavier.
The first thing that struck me was Child's decision to write in the first person, cutting out the time honoured introduction to Reacher's size, physique and appearance that must have appealed to Reacher's many female fans. The second thing was that Child decided to go with an over-the-top plot to keep the series alive. IMHO this time he went too far. Probably the best thing in the whole book was the twist in the plot in the last chapter, but then you will need to read the book to find the answer.
No doubt this book will please many of Child's readers who are looking for an escapist read. No doubt many readers will be pleased to know that at the end of the book Reacher is waiting for a bus to resume his nomadic existence. No doubt I will promise myself that I won't read the next in the Reacher series, but no doubt I will also break my promise to see what Child does next to keep the series alive.
PS Seasoned Reacher watchers may wonder how someone without an ID can get a passport. Child's magic answer is that Reacher is working for the State Department who supplied him with a lovely new passport, valid for ten years, without asking for an application.
on September 4, 2014
This is by far the weakest of the Jack Reacher novels. Big chunks of plot are signaled way ahead, and long periods go by with nothing happening except Reacher working it all out in his brain, but not sharing his conclusions. If yuo have read the others I'd say, maintain your illusions- don't read it.
on August 31, 2014
Nothing like Mr. Child's prior books. Very little action, an improbable and boring scenario with most time spent on descriptions of London streets and reassurances to Teacher' s female partner that everything will be OK. Do not see why you have to write a book, after so many successful ones, when the inspiration is missing.
on September 11, 2014
I don't think I'll ever enjoy a Jack Reacher book as much now that Hollywood tried to pass Tom Cruise off as the main man. I mean seriously, he's not 6' 5" and 220-250lbs. Imagination is pretty endless but I'm afraid I just can't bridge that gap. Personal is not a great Jack Reacher novel. It just doesn't hit all the right notes. Some of the narrative is irrelevant and some of the thoughts seem just too hectic. I think Lee Child has a serious job on his hands getting back to the Jack Reacher we all remember.
on September 4, 2014
I was quite a bit disappointed in this latest Jack Reacher story. To me it seemed about 20% storyline and 80% technical jargon and overly descriptive about the scenery and the traffic in London. I found myself just skimming the overly long descriptive passages and fight scenes. Maybe this story is more appealing to male readers, but as a female I really did not enjoy it. Sorry if that sounds sexist, but I really have enjoyed most of Lee Child's other books.