Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Faithful Spy, Alex Berenson: 2 Stars

Kicking it off with a little Alex Berenson.

This was a fairly fast read, which can be a blessing sometimes. I am not good at putting something down once I've started it because I have an insatiable need to find out what happened. If you read a lot or even moderately, be wary of predictability. I really get irritated when you can tell the author thinks he's in the middle of snagging you into his plot (NOTE: I use "his" in a non-gender descript type of way here). I think the author identified with his leading "bad guy", Khadri. The bad guy who thinks he's 5 steps ahead of everyone else. Berenson, you came across as having that same sort of attitude ... a little trying for my soul. Next time, give the readership some street cred, please.

MILD SPOILER ALERT (which for this kind of book, you really shouldn't care much about):
No one good dies. Come on!! A spy novel where no one that the author makes you care about except the bad guys die? How am I supposed to really get sucked in? Relying solely on Patriotism inspired by 9/11 just doesn't seem to do it for me. Not that I feel any less about that date as I lived through it, but the causes for targeting certain ethnicity has been tainted by ongoing politics. I'm not getting on a political soap box here because I've always thought people should be judged on their own merits and not stereotyped (otherwise, despite my brown hair, I believe I would be known as a "blond").

Kill someone that means something to me IN THE BOOK. I was almost happy thinking about the main character dying, but I knew you wouldn't do it. There was no motivation in anything else so whenever he was in danger, it just didn't seem real or believable. It wasn't really page turning. I think maybe he should have had a stronger name than plain John. I know lots of Johns in my time, some even have great meaning in my life, but as the lead character in a novel like this, it just makes it seem like Berensen was trying desperately hard to use that so every man in America reading the book would say 'John Doe could be me'. Unfortunately, it wasn't very inspiring (albeit this might be due to my gender as I'm fairly certain this type of novel is written toward men).

This other mild irritant in the book may also be because of my gender, but seriously she told the story about losing her virginity when he wanted to hear a story about her? Really? Really? Not only was the topic not believable, but the story itself was L.A.M.E. It's a story that a woman tells herself to make the truth feel more like the person she is, not what really happened. It doesn't do a lot to forward her character building. Lame. I'm not saying lame because it was about sex (virgin or otherwise) or because it had anything to do with sex at all, I'm just saying that story she told was lame and absolutely unbelievable from a woman's perspective. I can't even say any man that I know would fall for that crap either. Give us something real. If you need more ideas on making it real, please interview more people for their experiences before trying to piece together these types of things.

One perk: the writing didn't drive me nuts so it wasn't painful to read or finish. The plot made it a little tedious and made me glad it was a fast read, but the overall writing didn't get in the way.

Not everyone's cup of tea. If you have a flight from San Fran to NY, it'd be great and probably better than any of the movies offered up (it was better than any of the movies offered up on my ride for sure).


  1. I love the tag "man lit." Off to a good start! :)

  2. Try First Family by Baldacci--same kind of genre, but less lame. Excellent road trip book.

  3. LY: Sweet. I always love a book suggestion. Will check it out.

    April: nice to see you again :)