Today I thought I’d share with you some of the books I’ve been reading. Specifically a couple of traditionally published authors whose books I’ve been exploring, as well as a return to an old interest.
In the thriller world, Lee Child’s creation, Jack Reacher, is all the rage. Sometime ago I picked up Number 15 in the series in a used bookstore. I’d never heard of Lee Child or Jack Reacher at that point and since the book was the fifteenth in the series and because I have a penchant to read series books in order, I set it aside until I could get the earlier books.
Then I learned of the Jack Reacher craze and bought the first two books just to see what all the fuss was about. I bought them used because I have a policy not to buy any new books published by the Big Five. Mostly because the Big Five charges way too much for books, especially e-books.
And without a doubt I’m glad to say I didn’t pay anymore then the two cents plus shipping that I paid for the books, because I’m not at all impressed with Jack Reacher.
What I actually found most helpful was Mr. Child’s introduction to the first book in the series in which he explained how he created Jack Reacher and a bit about his philosophy of writing. That was valuable information and should be read by all writers.
So what didn’t I like about Mr Child’s writing?
- Mediocre writing. The books are over 500 pages long in the paperback versions and that’s about 200 pages too much. They are wordy and Mr Child continually defuses the suspense with lengthy descriptions and explanations. Which seems odd that one would want to kill suspense in a suspense novel.
- Technical inaccuracy. The first two books are riddled with inaccurate terms and information regarding firearms. Mr Child clearly knows nothing about guns — and he apparently didn’t bother to do sufficient research.
- An unbelievable main character. Jack Reacher clearly fulfills Mr Child’s intentions as to what he wanted to achieve in a main character. Child wanted someone who never loses. A wish fulfillment for everyone who’s suffered at the hands of a schoolyard bully. The problem is, Reacher is boring. He is never in any real trouble. He’s always in control and the few times he isn’t he always knows he’ll get the upper hand eventually. He has a few quirks which come off as more stupid than interesting. And Reacher’s personality is about as interesting as a cold fish.
Personally, I think the only reason Lee Child got a publishing contract is because he was a TV writer before he turned to fiction. It’s all about who you know.
Needless to say, I won’t be buying anymore Jack Reacher novels. I might read more if I were to get the books for free. But even then that would be iffy. Just too many better books out there.
Lydia Chin/Bill Smith
S J Rozan was an architect who decided to try her hand at novel writing. She’s garnered numerous awards and nominations for her mystery detective series featuring Lydia Chin and Bill Smith.
The series currently numbers 11 novels and since the last one was published in 2011 it may be at an end, as her two latest books our paranormal thrillers which she co-authored.
The series is somewhat unique in that the odd numbered novels are told from Lydia’s point of view and the even numbered ones from Bill’s.
I’ve read the first 3 and number 4 is in the queue.
Ms Rozan’s style is exquisite. Very polished. No extraneous anything. Lydia and Bill are well-drawn. They end up winning, but aren’t infallible. They come across as real people. By way of contrast, I’d say Jack Reacher is about as complex as a comic book character.
Lydia’s and Bill’s world is New York City. And Ms Rozan makes their world come alive for us. Her word painting is superb.
Of the two characters, I prefer Lydia Chin. She is more colorful and her Chinatown world is fascinating. Even Bill Smith is more interesting in the books where Lydia is the point of view character.
When Bill tells the story, everything is duller and somewhat darker. At least in the one Bill Smith point of view novel I read. We’ll see if that changes in the next one I read.
As of right now, I plan to get all of the Lydia Chin/Bill Smith mysteries. They are pretty much as good as it gets.
U-Boats? Why U-Boats, you might be thinking. I’ve studied history all my life. Majored in it for my B.A. and continued with courses in grad school. There are many aspects of history one can study and technological development is a very intriguing aspect.
Most know I’m crazy about airships. What most don’t know is that I’m also fascinated by submarines. The two are very much the opposites of each other. What it takes to fly a rigid airship is the same skills it takes to navigate a submarine. The one is in air, the other water.
I’m also fascinated by the losers in history. It isn’t always the good guys who win, unfortunately. They do, however, get to write the history books.
Recently, I watched a World War II movie about an Allied force that captures a German U-Boat in a stealth operation. Complete fiction. And complete propaganda. All the typical war movie tropes: all the Germans get killed and only one American does; the Germans can’t fix their diesel engine but the Americans can; the Americans in the middle of a tense situation with only one person able to speak German, figure out all the German instructions on how to run the boat; the German sub trying to recapture the U-Boat has all its torpedoes miss, but the Americans with only one torpedo left are able to sink the pursuing German sub; and on it goes.
What the movie did do was spark a renewal of my interest in submarines. Currently I’m reading two books from the German’s perspective on the Battle of the Atlantic. One from World War I and the other from World War II.
To me, the most interesting thing is if you were to simply change the perspective the books could have been written by the victors. In other words, the motivation behind the Allied and Axis troops to fight was the same. A vague sense of patriotism mainly. Rarely a devotion to ideology
To achieve balance in one’s understanding of history, one needs to read both sides.
We, as individuals, are the sum total of not only our past, but the past of our people. The more we understand the past, the more we understand ourselves. Our past defines who we are at this very moment. It may or may not define the future. That usually depends on how well we understand past drivers.
To read the exploits of the U-Boat commanders and their crews is giving me an appreciation for those men who have been so brutally demonized by Allied propaganda, but who in reality were no different than those men they were fighting.
A study of history quickly shows the historian people are people, no matter where they are found.
That’s some of what I’ve been reading of late. I’ve, of course, been reading other books and reviews of some of those will be forthcoming.
As always, comments are welcome! And until next time, happy reading!Share This!