When I told my boyfriend that I needed an “espionage thriller” for the Pop Sugar challenge, he handed me this book, one of his favorites. I had no idea what to expect. As I read I found myself thinking along two lines: about the story, and also about the story as it is placed in time. For people who like reading about spies and guns and international intrigue, I would absolutely recommend this book. The genre isn’t generally my thing. But the way I was able to connect to the story was through the characters. There are a handful of significant characters, and their interpersonal relationships were the most interesting to me. There is a father figure, an older brother figure, a younger brother figure, and a love interest. That’s plenty for all kinds of conflicting interests to arise. I didn’t find the book to be thrilling, but I think I’m in the minority, since it rode the New York Times Best Seller list for some time. (It was also the first of a trilogy, and that was made into a mini-series.) I did find the book to be well written, and there were parts I liked a lot. I like YA and I like kid or teen main characters, so when I got to the section of the books that relives the backstory for the two brothers as boys, that’s where I could really hook in to the story. The overarching story barrels toward a kind of inevitable conflict & resolution that might be predictable, but the intensity of it still grips you, and any other ending would’ve felt dissatisfying.
Thinking about this book and it’s placement in time was another puzzle I considered. This book was published the year after I was born, in 1983. The technology available to these characters, even as elite spies, is nothing compared to the tech in any teen’s pocket today. The characters used coded phrases on pay phones; I’m not sure millennials know what a pay phone is. Where today we’d use a cell phone, the characters had walkie-talkies. How many times might gps tracking have saved the day? But the characters are innovative with the tech they have: in one scene, Saul uses a remote controlled toy plane, and it reminded me of all the tv shows that feature drones. Their printers made a lot of noise—I’m guessing dot matrix. But no time period is without its delays and inconveniences. Today we deal with load time, lag, dying batteries and forgotten chargers, no signal or wifi passwords. Is any of it really so different? We’re always going to root for the underdog or the hero who’s giving it all they’ve got, cleverly employing whatever they have. In that way, any story has the potential to be timeless. Just don’t be quick to knock driving an automatic up a hill, Saul. You can have your clutch and changing gears. Everybody knows you just put it on cruise control. 😉
Here we go for reading challenge updates:
- PopSugar 2017 reading challenge No. 9 an espionage thriller.
- Book Dragon’s Lair Audiobook challenge Nope.
- Book Dragon’s Lair Pages Read challenge This 353 pgs brings me to 7,273 pgs.
- Read It Again, Sam Nope.
- My Reader’s Block Mount To Be Read (TBR) and Rock My TBR challenge Nope.
- For the Diverse Reads challenge (here and here) the mini-monthly challenges are sexuality and gender for June & July. I’ve met the June requirement and this does not satisfy the July requirement, but I’ve got some leads.
- The Book Date Full House challenge This is my “borrowed” book, loaned to me by my boyfriend Christopher. Thanks, Chris!
- The Book Date Read the Books You Buy challenge Nope.
- The Worm Hole’s What’s In A Name challenge Nope.
Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
July is practically half over. Passage of time is so weird.