Customer Reviews: Threat Vector (Jack Ryan, Jr.)
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on September 16, 2015
Threat Vector is the fourth book in the Campus books starring Jack Ryan Junior. For those unfamiliar with the series, the series takes place in the same universe as the majority of Tom Clancy's work, starring the son of his CIA-analyst-turned-President hero, Jack Ryan (Senior). Masquerading as a member of an innocuous brokerage firm, Jack Ryan (Junior) conducts assassinations of terrorists and other off-the-books missions with his cousins as well as several friends of his dad. This is all made legal by the power of a number of blank pardons issued by his father before he left office during his first term as President.


Remember when Tom Clancy's books were paragons of accuracy and realism?


All kidding aside, I enjoy the Campus series as a delightfully off-kilter spy series about a bunch of heroic do-gooers against EVIL terrorists. It's a series you can turn your brain off for and still enjoy the lengthy descriptions of actions, locals, and likable protagonists. Tom Clancy novels are an acquired taste of jingoistic movie action fiction which don't attempt to aspire to anything higher than being really fun contemporary spy fantasies--and I'm okay with that. The right-wing preaching is actually considerably toned down from Dead or Alive and Locked Down, perhaps because Jack Ryan is now President of the United States and all is well in the world.

The premise is the Chinese government is going bankrupt. Decades of expansion are about to lead to a devastating retraction and its current President is desperate to avoid a coup by his enemies using trumped-up charges. Allying with the military, he discovers they intend to force him to go to war in order to secure Tawain. Meanwhile, the Campus is under surveillance by a new and powerful enemy in Center.

Possessing computer hacks into much of the United States' infrastructure, Center is capable of inflicting devastating damage and have a network of coerced operatives across the globe. Faced with a foe able to uncover their true identities and operations, the Campus' leadership must decide whether or not it will proceed given the risks to its operational security. Jack Ryan Junior is unaware his girlfriend Melanie is spying for the FBI while all this goes down, the young woman being blackmailed into serving as an operative for an unscrupulous agent.

The treatment of China is of an oppressive communist dictatorship seething with resentment against America as well as possessing a personal desire to destroy President Ryan. This is not unexpected given past treatment of them in The Bear and the Dragon but may put off some readers. Tom Clancy makes notes to include dissidents, Asian heroes, and Asian American agents to show he's not racist but his anti-People's Republic of China slant is on every page.

Computer hacking is handled in a manner which is both amusing as well as informative. The authors clearly want to use the right kind of lingo and technical jargon but it comes off as a somewhat silly at times. Still, A for effort. I was reminded of the original Splinter Cell game due to Georgia (the nation, not the state) crippling the United States with the use of computer hacking techniques but if a plot is good, it shouldn't be shied away from.

The villains, as always, are mwah-ha-ha evil with the Chinese antagonists including a warmongering psychopath as well as his sociopathic computer hacker terrorist leader subordinate. They have the man who tortured John Clark in Locked On and a child-pornography-loving creepy FBI agent assisting them as well. That's in addition to their henchmen in the form of Libyan secret police, Russian mafia toughs, and a Hong Kong Triad.

If you're looking for moral ambiguity or villains with convictions, this is not the place to find it. I disliked the treatment of character Melanie Kraft this time around as I was quite pleased to have another strong female character in the books. Here, she's reduced to a weak puppet of her FBI handler and a horrifying secret is introduced to make her more pliable to the villains. I was hoping she'd find some way to extirpate herself from the problem by the end but, sadly, that falls to Jack Ryan Junior.

The action in the book is, as always, highly entertaining and I enjoyed the various twists and turns throughout the book. As much as I disliked the retcon to Melanie Kraft's character, I enjoyed her dealing with the shame and unease she has about her father's treason. It's just a shame this is a quality that's unforgivable for her but would have been overlooked for any of Tom's male heroes. After all, they've all done things which are highly illegal and threatening to national security.

I like Center and his henchmen as a set of villains even if I find the idea of a computer terrorist organization working for the PRC hiding with the Triads ludicrous (even if they lampshade how ludicrous it is--it's still ludicrous). There's also a well-written subplot about John Clark struggling with his decision to retire despite the fact, it turns out, it's not as fun as he'd imagined.

In conclusion, Threat Vector is a fun spy fiction adventure weighed down by the portrayal of the Chinese government as well as its outdated techno-jargon. I also disliked the treatment of Melanie Kraft, a character I really came to like in Locked On. The book is still enjoyable, though, mostly for the action and entertaining characters.

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on December 25, 2012
There's no doubt that Clancy can still churn out international clashes of powerful nations. Here, the now aged John Clark has to be called back into the fray to make a special ops team function right, after a number of the good guys are killed by Chinese agents of the top of Communist Party, who meets his fate, finally. All the old actors, including Mary Pat Foley are resurrected for Clancy afficianados, and Jack Ryan (Jr.) is being primed for future stardom in a movie sequel. The techno-speak for computer geeks will attract those who fear international control of computer networks, or are sure that there are armies of programmers hidden in some underground lab, with walls of Coke cans surrounding their cubicles. They never see the daylight, but are all aware of everything that is passed electronically.
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on February 21, 2014
I also was a big fan of the 'old' Clancy novels and enjoyed them very much but as other reviewers have commented - something has changed in the style of Clancy and not for the better. This story is loaded with technological jargon and detailed technical descriptions that add no value to the story. At one point I began to skim page after page trying to find something of substance that contributed to the storyline/plot. I started to read it and then about half way through I almost gave up. If I wanted a travelogue on the places that the Hendley crew went to I would use a different source. I felt the overall plot was reasonablle but the way they went about resolving the conflicts was unrealistic including the ability to be transported all over the world in an instant. The details of the capability of the fighter jets and the related technology do not contribute anything to the story. In fact they are a distraction. I struggled to finish the book and I will not be reading another Clancy novel unless I find reviews that support his old style of writing. Two stars is generous!
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on January 20, 2013
I am a HUGE fan of Jack Ryan and Tom Clancy. This is the first Clancy book I have not finished (and probably won't). I have literally read everything else Tom has published, even if I wasn't really interested in the subject. He has previously consistantly grabbed my attention, sucked me into the action, made me care about the characters. Did I mention I haven't finished this book?

I have started reading this five times thanks to the portability of the Kindle Books. Each time I would read for about an hour and decide I had other things to do with my life. I am truly disappointed.

Unfortunately, I can't precisely identify why I am not interested in finishing it. Clancy's wonderful characters are there. A complex plot to change our nation is there. The bad guys are really bad, the good guys are really good. But the magic isn't there.

I look forward to the next Clancy novel. Yes, I will buy it. But you might want to read the sample completely before paying the relatively high Kindle price on this one....
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on January 27, 2013
Another gem from Tom Clancy. Great story that weaves topical issues into the character's histories in typical, detailed to the hilt, Clancy style. Not the best Clancy has ever done, but a quality read that leaves you wanting more at the end.
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on January 16, 2013
Ever since Tom Clancy moved his storyline from Jack Ryan, Sr. to Jack Ryan, Jr. and The Campus, his books have turned away from lots of military hardware and more towards cloak and dagger activities. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but there definitely has been a shift in the narrative.

Once again, John Clark, Domingo "Ding" Chavez, Jack Ryan, Jr., Dominic Caruso and the other members of The Campus get involved in a crisis which has global implications. I would say this is predominantly a spy v. spy novel, so don't let the aircraft silhouette on the cover fool you. The action comes quickly and continues right on until the end...although the ending seemed a little abrupt. Personally, I think a few of the storylines could have been stretched out for a few more pages, but that's just me nitpicking. Once I started reading this one, I found it very hard to put down--hope you feel the same way.
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VINE VOICEon May 28, 2013
After Clancy's last debacle of a book, I swore I'd never waste the money on another and so waited to check this one out from the library. Unfortunately, it's no better than the weak previous efforts. It's all about money at this point - Clancy puts his name on the cover, a minor talent of a co-writer pumps out the bulk of the novel and the readers get deceived that it's truly a TC novel. Although the characters will seem familiar and the plot line is well developed, it's not a book worth reading. There are better writers out there now, many of them independent authors where you can enjoy their work for 20% of the cost of something like this.

At this point, for me, even free from the library isn't going to get me to read any more of these so-called collaborations because it's not worth 3-4 days of my time.
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on January 27, 2013
The collaboration between Clancy and Greany teamed up last year with Dead or alive and locked on. This book was great!
In true Clancy fashion real life situation comes at you, and warfare now elevates to cyberwar between China and the U.S.A. One general imperialist ambitions coupled with a crisis like red storm rising. couple that with the MSS knowing about the campus.
The cyberware directorate is hitting the US infrastructre hard.

But then we come back figting and as always their's no victories without sacrifices of people and relationships.Including the retirement of Mr. Clark. I hope we see him in a future book. Maybe he work at the campus as head of security. He has been my favorite badass since without remorse. The writing was belivable and fast paced. It kept glused to the edge of my proverbail seat. I recomend thsi book to any Tom Clancy fan!!!!
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on December 12, 2012
This book is certainly an improvement over the completely ghost-written junk Clancy has tied his name too, and also improves on his recent co-written books. I like the book overall, but still nowhere near the great stuff he used to write.

Lots of wasted filler on John Ryan junior's relationship with his girlfriend. He's whipped, we get drop it.

Good techno stuff on cyberwar, this is the reason the book didn't get 2 stars. It does have relevance to the modern world. usual the authors overdue everything, and in the process make it look unrealistic. It's the typical "US is soft and unprepared, and the bad guys almost stomp us...then we come back with a vengeance". Tired, same old same old cliche.

Frankly, Clancy is only 65, you'd think he'd have time to get off his rear and write some really good books again. Maybe his is already senile, or just greedy and lazy.

Not worth the money, but if you are a fan, you'll read this book, and probably enjoy most of it, as I did.
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VINE VOICEon December 20, 2012
This has got to be my favorite author! Like his previous books, this is a riveting tale of a future that is all too possible: a clash with China over the South China Sea. It starts out slow: I had a little difficulty getting started, having just finished another thriller. But getting through the background is so worth it! The story build and builds! You can't put it down! It keeps building all the way to the last few cleanup pages! Magnificent! How does he do it? What a gift!

I love the depth of the characters: not too much detail that you get bogged down as with some authors. A perfect mix of action, suspense, characters, and threat that is Clancy's hallmark. A Must Read!
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