on September 4, 2013
Where is Jack Reacher? Who is this imposter?
I am a huge Lee Child / Jack Reacher fan, and have been reading these books for years, but it has got to the point where I say that this could very well be my last Jack Reacher purchase. It pains me to say this, as these books have been the highlight of my reading calender for so long, but the decline has become more noticeable with this book.
There were a few times when I seriously considered not finishing the book, but this is Lee Child and Reacher, surely it can only get better? No, the writing was consistent throughout, it was boring and repetitive. The plot was weak, and every solution to a problem on both sides was just too convenient, unbelievably so on many occasions.
Jack Reacher, in my opinion, has become arrogant - he is no longer the Jack Reacher I have enjoyed reading about all these years. This new Jack does things because he can - not because he must in order to survive. The ridiculous fire episode and the aeroplane scene clinched the deal for me.
The ending, and the reason for all the trouble Jack found himself in, was crazy, far-fetched and not what we have come to expect from Lee Child either.
I have been holding back on this review for days, but when you take the price of this book and what is between the covers, I think it is important that potential readers know that this is not up to Lee Child's earlier standards.
I am definitely the minority when it comes to reviewing this book - the 5 star reviews are rolling in on both Amazon and Goodreads. Maybe you will still enjoy this book if you are a die-hard Reacher fan, if not, I would give it a skip and rather try Lee Childs earlier Jack Reacher novels - they were brilliant.
Would I recommend this book? No
Will I buy the next book? Not on pre-order, I will wait for the reviews to come in first before buying - if at all.
For the last couple of books, Jack Reacher has been trying to make it back to the East Coast to meet the woman who has, up to this point, simply been a voice on the phone helping him out on his adventures.
Well, he finally makes it, and when he shows up at the headquarters of the MP unit she now commands, he's mousetrapped. She's been arrested and relieved of command, and he's been accused of crimes he'd allegedly committed back when he was an MP himself; he's recalled back into active duty - making him subject to military discipline and judicial punishment - and placed under arrest.
He manages to break her and himself out of jail, and the rest of the story is about how he tries to clear both their names by getting to the truth at the bottom of these events.
I've long been a Reacher fan, having read the entire body of work, and thoroughly enjoyed them until the last few offerings. I thought the last two were particularly weak. There are elements of this book that I thought were pretty well done... somewhat reminiscent of the classic Reacher of yore.
Unfortunately, when I got to the end of the story and it was revealed what was actually driving this entire plot against Reacher and his girlfriend, I had to wonder what author Child had been smoking. I can't say more because it would be a huge spoiler. I will say this: I thought it was absolutely ridiculous.
Further, there wasn't much "payoff" to the reader in the way the story ended. Certainly not in the sense of the "classic" Reacher books of old. In many ways, Reacher's somewhat of a bystander or observer in the resolution of this story.
Overall, I found the book to be somewhat shallow and rushed. Not nearly as emotionally engaging as the earlier Reacher books. I have to wonder if, after having written so many of them, Child is getting tired of flogging a dying horse; if the well's going dry.
Anyway, 3 stars. Not as bad as the last two books, but not nearly as good as the early works.
Getting a Reacher novel in the mail is a lot like being handed an ice cream cone on a sweltering summer day. It's simply not there for admiring or slowly savouring, you tuck right in and enjoy every lick. And like the cone, "Never Go Back" does not disappoint.
This time, Reacher travels back to his old MP unit to meet its new commander, mainly because he was intrigued by the sound of her voice on the telephone. Once there, he finds that she's been locked up, and he is being brought back on active duty so he can answer to a homicide charge and paternity suit. As always, nothing is quite as it seems, and Reacher has to peel back layer after layer to get to the truth. All while staying one step ahead of the law, drug dealers, and the Army.
I don't know if the Reacher series can get any better, but it certainly isn't getting any worse or showing any author fatigue. The writing is crisp, the pacing brilliant, and the plot is deliciously convoluted and innovative. You simply cannot put this book down, it's that compelling and addictive.
The one weakness is Child's lack of understanding of the U.S. military. Reacher refers to an Army major as "miss", something no recent field grade officer would ever do except as a deliberately provocative insult. He has a base with three checkpoints at the entry and exit. I've never seen a base with more than one entry checkpoint, and only an exit checkpoint during exercises or times of heightened security. Checking everyone's ID and trunk three times on the way off-base is manpower intensive and utterly pointless. There are other things that seem hinky to me, and I think an Army staff officer would point out more flaws. It doesn't ruin the book, but if you're going to write about the military, you owe it to the readers to have your facts straight.
That aside, the book is simply outstanding. The Reacher series clearly has a lot of life left in it, and I'm already looking forward to the next one!
on September 15, 2013
Lee Child like the Shadow has the power to cloud people's minds. How else can you explain the success of his most recent book Never Go Back?
Most of the reviews here are favorable. The New York Times gave the book a rave review. Why?
I was a Reacher fan. I read every one of his books. The early ones were fantastic. They were as much fun as you could have with a book.
Then the gradual decline. The last three were unreadable. In fact I couldn't finish them, but I still bought them because it was hard to give up the Reacher habit. It was like losing an old friend.
First of all a novel has to be well written. This one wasn't. I found myself rereading sentences to see if he really wrote that. A High School English teacher would flunk him. Bad sentence structure full of cliches.
The plot. I am not looking for realism here, after all it's Reacher, the smartest toughest most capable man on the planet. This plot seemed to be made up as he went along. It was silly, not clever, and the ending was a letdown.
And the there is the filler, endless descriptions of cars, geography, and idle chatter. Doesn't this author have an editor?
I am much older now than when I read my first Reacher Book and I have retired. It's time for tired old Reacher to do the same.
on September 27, 2013
Sorry Lee Child, you have obviously bowed to pressure to get another book out there. I must admit, I am partly to blame, I couldn't wait for my Reacher "fix:". I had solved the case shortly after starting the book and what a long time it took Reacher to figure out the plot, was excruciating, like "watching paint dry". My husband spent 20 years in the navy and let me tell you, Recher would never have have gotten away with his antics in this story. And then again who, today, is allowed to sit through an airport landing without a seat belt on? I'm a frequent flyer and I can assure you, it doesn't happen. Plus, we expect Reacher to be violent, part of what makes his character is his dealing deadly with his foes. But to sit on a plane and break a man's fingers and another man's arm.....give me a break, there isn't a man in a middle seat has anything going on that his neighbour's don't know about. And, then, the Reacher in my head, would never in a hundred years get in a tollet with another man, there just is not enough space. Oh, I guess I have to change the view I have in my head, of Reacher into Tom Cruise. What a sell out that was, not that it was a dreadful movie, just that it was a "wee" man trying to play a "big man." I wil keep my library of "Lee Child's previous books but this is going into the charity. bin!
There are not many authors who can write 18 books in a series and keep people's interest. Lee Child has done that for years with his very successful Jack Reacher series and I was looking forward to reading this book to see if it was sufficiently different to maintain my interest. The answer is that I still found the story entertaining but, despite the unusual plot line of Reacher being dragged back into the military after many years, the rest was repetition of a well worn theme.
After leaving the military Jack Reacher has become a nomad, wandering the US to wherever takes his interest. Recently his interest went back to how his old unit, the 110th MP, was faring and he had spoken with the new CO, Major Susan Turner, on the phone. Reacher liked her voice and wants to meet her so travels to Washington DC where the unit is still located. What he doesn't expect to find is that there is now another new commanding officer who promptly tells Reacher that he is under investigation for two offences, the death of a suspect who he is accused of attacking and a paternity suit for a 14 year old girl.
What Reacher didn't realise was that, because of his rank and security clearance, he can be recalled to the military at any time if he is in good health and under 55 (if you have been in the US Military I would carefully examine your discharge papers). The new CO tells him he has been recalled and "You're back in the army, Major. And your ass is mine."
So far so good - a scenario to make a new Jack Reacher book different. But from then on it was more of the same for Reacher - on the road escaping from trumped up charges, taking on and injuring the baddies, and getting evidence to clear himself (and on this occasion the attractive Susan Turner who is also under investigation) and sleeping in worn out motels to avoid detection.
While overall I enjoyed the book I found the repetitious parts overwhelmed the different scenario. So I repeat something I said in my review of "A Wanted Man", 17th in the Jack Reacher series, that IMHO the series showing signs of running out of steam. Nevertheless I know that this book will be another bestseller for Lee Child (the back cover of the book tells me that a Jack Reacher novel is sold somewhere in the world every four seconds and the sales of this book will keep up the momentum).
Many of you may not be aware of the minor stoush between Lee Child and David Baldacci which continues in this book. Baldacci has written two books in his John Puller series with a lead character with very similar size, background and abilities as Jack Reacher. In "A Wanted Man", Child included a dim witted deputy named John Puller. When Reacher met Puller and found he was a dim wit, he said "Were you dropped on your head as a baby?" In "Never Go Back" two of the pursuers gets onto a plane with Reacher, but one gets his fingers broken and the other his arm broken by Reacher (incredibly without other passengers knowledge). The name of one of them was Ronald David Baldacci. This may seem funny but I found it a bit childish (please excuse the pun).
on September 29, 2013
I loved all the other books in the Jack Reacher series, but this one didn't even feel like it was written by the same author. Reacher is supposed to be extremely smart. He is constantly thinking about his situation and examining every angle. But the coin flip fifty-fifty device that he uses throughout the book seemed to dumb down this thought process. Every time he used it to tell someone about choices it was as if he was saying "It might happen and it might not". This did not seem to fit with the essence of Reacher. Also, I felt the storyline of the girl to be unbelievable. Again, I have read all the other books in the series and really enjoyed them, which in the end amplified my disappointment in this book.
on September 22, 2013
Amazon summarizes the plot well. To avoid giving spoilers, I cannot give more details than the book has 2 potentially very important developments in the Reacher saga--both of which wind up being minimally explained huge letdowns.
Yes, it is always fun to read Reacher's wiseass comments and beating up of bad guys, but:
1. It is all the same old stuff.
2. The physical encounters are not only totally rote, but the adversaries are obviously badly overmatched.
3. A key character--a 14 year old girl--is utterly unbelievably precocious and lacking credibility.
4. The 3 lawyer characters are paper thin and lack credibility.
5. The evil masterminds lack believability and the climax is neither credible nor exciting.
6. The more you think about the plot, the less sense it makes.
7. Does anyone believe Reacher always knows the correct time to the minute without ever looking at a watch?
on September 15, 2013
I was quite enjoying the latest Reacher novel until chapter 16. Author Child's rhetorical device is introduced here and is repeated for emphasis throughout the book.
Reacher, the man with a clock in his head, who read recreational mathematics as a child, who can recite interesting properties of numbers at will, becomes dumbfounded by simple probability.
He reduces every decision or choice to a simple "either it will happen or it won't. yes or no. fifty-fifty." No matter how complex or nuanced the situation becomes this mantra is repeated.
The Savant Reacher becomes like just another confused contestant on the Monty Hall Show "I'm keeping my door Monty cause it's fifty-fifty".
I fully expect in the next book Reacher will have settled down and became a real estate agent. After all, he either will or he won't. Yes or no. It's fifty-fifty.
on June 27, 2016
I really enjoyed this story, a typical Jack Reacher tale with lots of excitement, action and a mystery to be unraveled. Unfortunately for me, I ended up having to purchase this story twice. Why would that be necessary you might ask? Glad you asked! My paperback version (2014 Dell Mass Market Edition, April 2014 edition) arrived brand new and everything was fine as I really got into the story, quite a page turner. Then I finished chapter 56 on page 416. The very next page in this book was page 129 (again) and the pages continued through page 176. The next page after that was page 465. (see the photos I've attached to my review) The pages continued as normal after that, however this paperback version of the book is quite worthless as a story with dozens of pages missing from it. So in order to continue where I left off I ended up ordering the kindle version for my tablet to get the whole story. This is why I dinged my review a star. Obviously, the problem is not with the retailer, nor the distributor but with the publisher for putting out such an incomplete book. Hopefully mine was just a fluke and others printed as they are supposed to be. But be warned and check the pages just in case! To their credit, Amazon was very quick with a refund for this defective book.