Customer Reviews: The Inner Circle
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Showing 1-10 of 102 reviews(1 star). Show all reviews
on January 22, 2011
Normally, when a book proves itself to be non-entertaining and unreadable, I just quit. In this case, I was snowed in in the mountains and read all the way to the "end." ("End" is in quotes, because the story just stops during Chapter 121, with no resolution of any of its silly and implausible plotlines. It just stops like a 1940s serialized Saturday drama -- "What do you suppose will happen next week?") But, it's a relief to be done with it. There's no reason to start in the first place. An unappealing protagonist with no apparent virtues or competencies is the narrator at the center of this confused jumble of unpersuasive and virtually unconnected scenes. Meltzer trots out the laughable, "conspiracy-of-a-secret-society-whose-members-remain-active-today" gambit, and demonstrates his inability to ride it. Incoherent plotting, wretchedly awkward dialog and clumsy depictions of "action" scenes make this torture to read. Meltzer creates what he probably thinks is dramatic tension by never allowing a character to complete a sentence before being interrupted by another character with an emotional outburst. Physical fights, with and without weapons (with which Meltzer shows no famliarity), are ridiculously naive and unrealistic; verbal confrontations and expositions are stilted and implausible; sub-plots are irrelevant to each other; the main plot evolves from incomprehensible to silly. It's as if the author tossed together some discarded notes from different books that would never have been published and unified them by having the same group of clownish characters show up in scene after scene, wondering how they got there. Skip it.
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on February 12, 2011
I had not read any of Brad Meltzer's previous works before, but was drawn to "The Inner Circle" because the plot synopsis soundly very intriguing, and it had been recommended by some individuals whose opinions I generally tend to trust. Sadly, as it turned out, all the positive buzz turned out to be untrue.

"The Inner Circle" focuses on Beecher, a young staffer at the National Archives, who gets drawn into a historical mystery of sorts by the accidental discovery of an artifact that ties to George Washington's ultra-secret spy ring. Also drawn into the mystery is Clementine, a classmate (and childhood crush) that Beecher recently reconnected with. Of course, their discovery has ties to the President, and - without completely spoiling all the details for those who might still want to read the novel - involves numerous other characters, all of whom Beecher cannot be sure to trust.

As it turns out, Mr. Meltzer bogs down the plot - and makes it far more convoluted than it ever should have been - with almost unnecessary side stories and flashbacks to Beecher's childhood. Probably 99% of these side stories and flashbacks didn't seem to be fully fleshed out, or worse, had absolutely no bearing on the supposed outcome of the main plot. Additionally, characters came and went in the story that had what seemed to be significant roles in the plot, but that ultimately were left hanging out there, leaving the reader more questions that were unresolved.

So as the chapters flew by, I figured this would be a classic storytelling style of the genre, where the first three-quarters of the novel was setup, followed by a lightning-fast final quarter where everything was satisfying tied up and resolved. That never happened. It was all buildup, side story, flashback, buildup, buildup, flashback, side story, flashback, until suddenly there was a conversation with the President, followed by a drive off into the night - and that was it. Absolutely nothing - except for maybe one plot thread that was never really interesting - was resolved. Instead, it felt to me as though Mr. Meltzer created what to me is a cardinal sin of storytelling: leaving a major plotline - or series of plotlines - open for what is likely to be a sequel. Tom Clancy did this a few years ago with "Teeth of the Tiger", which drove me away from his books. With "The Inner Circle", Mr. Meltzer seems to be doing it by setting up a future novel where the Beecher character continues his pursuit of this plot. What should have happened is that the major pieces of this plot should have been resolved in this novel. Then, if Mr. Meltzer intended to have the Beecher character return in a future novel, it could be with a different story, perhaps to include one of the minor story threads that wasn't necessarily key to this novel. In my opinion, that method of storytelling leads to a satisfied reader, and one who will be more inclined to return to other works from the author in the future.

In the end, I feel like I wasted my time reading "The Inner Circle", and also feel let down by being misled by the positive recommendations that led me to purchase and read this novel. I don't think the people who recommended it actually read it, or maybe hadn't finished the novel. It has been quite some time that I have read a book that had so promising a concept turn out to be so poorly executed. At any rate, I am hoping that my other friends and fellow readers who are looking for a good book will avoid "The Inner Circle", so that they don't experience the disappointment that I did. I will certainly not be returning to Mr. Meltzer's novels anytime soon.
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on February 7, 2011
The story is hard to follow, with no clues as to who the good guys or bad guys are. I stuck with the story hoping for some enlightenment but none came. I am not impressed with Meltzer's writing and will not be reading another of his books.
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on February 17, 2011
I had to give it one star; I would rather give it none. I listened to the book on CD until I gave it up.

I read a sampling of those reviewers who hated the book but I didn't see anyone mentioning my particular beef (and there might have been some such comments I didn't see): Meltzer's ability to constantly bore with numerous insignificant, unimportant details and repetitions (like what the "green ink" said once found--the ENTIRE TEXT time after time after . . .).

The need to end each chapter with a "hang" and the constant reference to even the most minute facial features (and this list could go on and on, like Meltzer does) makes this book so bad to listen to that I have finally simply stopped. I had long since ceased caring about the characters or what was happening to and around them. Thrillers like this are supposed to MOVE--this one had completely stopped (after creeping along for half its length).

Good writers of this genre know well when to add details, but most especially when to LEAVE THEM OUT for the sake of pace. I'll never pick up another Meltzer book; and I want my money back. What a disappointment.
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on January 30, 2011
I looked forward to receiving this audio book, I was expecting a smart version of National Tresure. Wow, was I disappointed. Uninteresting characters, ridiculous story line, and a melodromatic narrator. Such a waste of time and money. To those celebrity autors and magazine reviewers who gave this a top review. I am taking notes and will no longer trust your "can't put it down" "Don't miss this book" reviews. Have some integrity - if the book is a stinker, either say so or decline the review. The Inner Circle
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on January 30, 2011
This book was a waste of my time and money. The plot was confusing, and got increasingly convoluted as the book progressed. The ending was abrupt and unsatisfying, as if the author finally ran out of weird plot twists and thought "Oops, time to stop writing". I actually thought my Kindle had malfunctioned and failed to download the entire book, but the Kindle was fine--the book was the problem.

Meltzer's writing style is amateurish. He has a penchant for awkward contractions (to've, shouldn't've, those're) that I found quite annoying. This is the first Meltzer book I've read, and it will definitely be the last
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on February 12, 2011
The premise of the book, a spy ring started by George Washington and continued to current times by US Presidents, was fascinating and drew me to purchase the book. It was
quickly apparent the writing was below expectations. The story development was not credible. I forced myself to read a few pages every evening just so I could say I finished the book. At no time was I "pulled in" and wanted to "read on". Instead, I will give a sigh of relief when I decided to put the book down each evening.
I have not read any of Meltzer's other books so I can not compare this to his earlier works. My recommendation is to look for a good "read" elsewhere.
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on February 17, 2011
I have plowed through 200 pages of this book and quite frankly I cannot tell you what the book is about. I am very confused as to who the characters are and what they doing in the plot or scheme of the book. I think it has something to do with a book that was found. I also think the President is involved in some capacity. The dialogue drones on and on and seems to lead to nowhere and is disjointed. One encouraging thing about this book is that apparently anyone can get published.
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on August 26, 2011
Horrible - worst yet. I've been a fan of Meltzer's early works and definately of his TV program Decoded. I watched the program on the Culpepper Ring and it was full of facts, logical and interesting. This book is all over the place with horrible characters that seem like a high school senior wrote the book. Not a Meltzer - and I am wondering if he has the idea and some lackey writes the book. Don't bother - and reconsider any new books to come out.
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on February 13, 2012
Albert Einstein is reputed to have defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome. That's pretty much the way I feel about Brad Meltzler. He's the author of what I call airplane books, the kind of brain-candy thrillers you pick up to read while whiling away the hours in an airport bar or on a plane. Lee Child and Vince Flynn are a couple examples of excellent airplane writers. Elmore Leonard comes to mind. Steve Martini used to be, before he made the leap from legal procedural to fighting international terrorism.

Sadly, the best thing about Meltzler's books are the cover blurbs. Whoever encapsulates his plots does a masterful job. Each time I read an interesting description, I think, "Well, maybe he's gotten better. Maybe he's learned how to write. Maybe he's learned how to draw a character that doesn't look like a stick figure."

Wrong, wrong, wrong. If anything, he's gotten worse. He is now providing sound effects. When he describes a car door lock popping open he adds a "tunk," usually in italics. There are also chunks, thunks and Krkkk's. That last, apparently is the sound someone makes when they kick someone in the knee. Sometimes heavy doors go "kuh-kunk" when the locks are released, as well as the sound of a Diet Dr. Pepper makes when someone selects it from a vending machine. Or my favorite, after his junior high school crush (who has miraculously reappeared in his life after 17 years in search of her father--who is locked up at St. Elizabeth's Hospital for the insane, either because he once tried to kill the President, or because he thought Brad Meltzler might improve as a writer--I forget which) finishes trying to choke him, he gasps for breath, which reads like huuuh-hgggh.

Great stuff, really. Oh, there's an unrealistic plot, and some rather thinly drawn characters, and some pedestrian writing, even by Meltzler's standards. It's not the worst book I've ever read, just the worst one I've read this millennium.
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