Ok so I am aware that I am in a fairly aggressive genre phase, and I am LOVING IT UNAPOLOGETICALLY, but I am also using it as a launch to try other genres. I mean, not that apocalyptic YA/fantasy/more YA but with kissy times/YA fantasy, not that that’s getting old. But what if I really enjoy, say, mysteries, and don’t know it yet? Even when they don’t contain wacknuttery banter? (Georgette Heyer, I want to kiss you on your clever mouth.)
So here’s a crack at…whatever this is. Thriller? Gov Lit? Anywhoozit. People like Lee Child. People I know, people who are articulate and amusing, THESE people like Lee Child. So I sample a Lee Child, and I know this is Book 2 in the Jack Reacherses but Book 1 was unavailable through my e-library and I’ve been hankering to noodle with my nook. God, that sounds dirty.
SO! Lee Child and I? Not compatible. I’m sorry, Lee. Your four-word sentences might feel very nouveau-Hemingway to you, but my eyeballs cannot handle the stop-and-go driving. Here’s a bit on a gun (there are a good many bits on guns. I sort of glaze over them, but then that’s probably how many people who are not me feel when there’s talk of slashed silk and ruched chiffon in Tudor Times): ‘Seventeen rounds to a magazine, hence the name. And it was light. For all its power, it weighed under two pounds. The important parts were steel. The rest of it was plastic. Black polycarbonate, like an expensive camera. A fine piece of craftsmanship.’ And this isn’t, like, a particularly exemplary sampling. This is how the whole book goes on. Like this. Very choppily. I can’t seem to stop.
Maybe we could sum up the plot a bit? Because that was quite good. Ok so Jack Reacher is just sort of wandering around and helping lovely, slightly crippled ladies when said ladies are kidnapped because they are actually slightly wounded Feds and Reacher is accidentally kidnapped with them (ok, her. There’s just the one lovely lady). And Holly (the lady) is the Most Perfect Thing Ever, aside from being wounded. She’s lovely (you may recall) and also smart and also very physically strong despite being a fox and also tough and hard-working and also shooting up the federal ladder but no one resents her for it on account of her charm, etc. and so when she is kidnapped all of her co-Feds go predictably ape. THEY STOLE OUR HOLLY! they thunder. IF THEY DARE TOUCH A HAIR and so forth. Mens, am I right?
Oh and also, she is the daughter of Someone Very Important In Government But I’m Sort Of Bad With Titles, which is why this particular anti-government cult has kidnapped her (and, accidentally, Reacher). So that’s happening. Meanwhile, back in the Kidnap Van, Reacher and Holly are trying to one-up each other in Figuring Out Shit Like What Direction They Are Travelling And Where They Are Parked And Whether That Was Train Tracks They Just Went Over And The Geographical Implications Of Same before they realize they are both super-qualified to kick some ass, and also to make out because they are two extremely attractive people in addition to being savvy and locked in a van.
And then they reach the cult-camp and the cult-leader is all ROAWR THE GOVERNMENT and Holly is all, I’ll save you, Reacher! and Reacher is all, I’ll save you, Holly, and the Feds are like, WE’LL SAVE YOU, HOLLY, but not you, Reacher, because we are misinformed re: your pro/antagonist status, and think you are evil. And there is quite a lot of dynamite stored away somewhere and many people are killed in various ways and there is a bit where Reacher gets stuck in an underground tunnel, like, physically stuck, and my cramped heart almost exploded. Plot ahoy!
But the writing, ye gads. I would be MURDERED if I handed in a paper with this much passive construction. And, in a paragraph that I will spare you, Child begins EIGHT CONSECUTIVE SENTENCES with the word ‘She,’ with the exception of one lone ‘Then she’ thrown in for spice.
And I know I already mentioned the choppy choppers, but I just found a good one. ‘Fowler was waiting there. Stevie next to him. He nodded to a chair. Reacher sat. The guards stood behind him.’ It’s very See Spot Dig. And I know that I complain sometimes about authors not conveying a scene visually enough, but this is beyond. Reacher was here. Stevie was there. A man stood over there. He wore a blue coat. The coat was from Moores. In 1994.
And now that you have a precisely detailed view of the scene, let’s make some stuff happen. Let’s have people gesture, and then let’s de-code all of the gestures so that you understand PRECISELY what is going on. Nuance is for assholes. Even saying, like, He gestured understandingly, even that is for pansies who can’t commit. No. The General nodded, and it ‘was a personal gesture, individual to individual, and it said: we’ve leveled with each other, and we both know what humiliation that cost us, and we both know we appreciate it.’ OK, READER!?! DO YOU FULLY UNDERSTAND THE NOD? Moving on.
And I am aware that I am not the Ideal Reader here (see above comment re: guns vs. ruched chiffon) so maybe most people reading Lee Child know more about dynamite than I do. But. ‘Holly Johnson knew no more than most people do about dynamite [emphasis totally mine]…She knew ammonium nitrate and nitrocellulose were in there somewhere…she figured dynamite was some kind of a sticky fluid, soaked into a porous material and molded into sticks.’ And as I say, I MAY BE WRONG, but what I and most people know about dynamite is that it is red and you can get it at the Acme store.
And then sometimes, ‘People, he could handle. Dogs, he had very little experience.’ Please tell me that is a formatting error and that a preposition was lost in the scramble. I won’t be mad.
So, Mr Child. Despite your plotty shenanigans, I will not be able to continue our relationship. I’m trying to cut back on my Inner Shouting, and you clearly are not helping.
Five caterpillars, mostly for plot.