I’m not going to lie: I’m a little biased in my reading. Serious, Important, Literary, Award-winning. These are all important members of my reading vocabulary, and how I choose which books to read and review. Maybe I’m snobby, but whatever. These are my tastes, and there’s not much I can do about it.
Occasionally, I branch out. I’ll give new genres a try, or pick up a book by an author I’m normally suspicious of. Sometimes, this turns out well. I never expected to like Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz, with her brand of slightly-smart chick lit. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was also a surprise, considering all the old women in book clubs who came asking for it at Half-Price. Then, there are the flops. I didn’t review it here, but soon after The DaVinci Code came out, I gave it a shot just to see what all the fuss was about. Worst.Decision.Ever. Why I wasted money on that atrocity plagues me still. From that day forth, I vowed never to read a book “just because” it’s popular, and my faith in the general public’s taste in literature took a big hit. Plus, the experience justified my distaste of books in the action/thriller genre. While I love a fast-moving, plot-driven yarn by Stephen King, the experience just doesn’t carry over to action.
But what about really famous thrillers—books that have stood the test of time, and have even carried over into film? And what if I actually liked that film, a rare occurrence when that film has a lot of explosions, men grunting, and women in low-cut dresses. Rare, but it happened when I saw The Bourne Identity in 2002. I liked the dense plot, the twists and turns, the fact that a hired killer had no idea who he was. I liked Matt Damon. Suffice it to say, I liked it so much, I thought I might like the original novel by Robert Ludlum. The book was WAY out of my comfort zone, but I thought I’d give it a try.
And I’m trying, but…well, I won’t start writing a review (I’m barely a quarter of the way through the book), but I can bring you some not-so-great quotes that illustrates how silly and poorly written this action/thriller is turning out to be.
“What’s in there?”
“I wish I knew,” he said, glancing through the rear window at the door of the Drei Alpenhauser.
“You said that before.”
He looked at her, at the wide brown eyes that were searching his. Searching in fear, in bewilderment. “I know. Hurry up.”
Whenever I see the phrase “wide brown eyes,” I think “like a cow.” This unfortunate image stuck with me during the rest of the scene. Also, can you be more melodramatic Jason? Geez.
He reached across and pulled the door shut, then looked at her closely, trying to understand something in himself. Thirty minutes ago in another car he had experienced a degree of nausea when he had pressed the barrel of the gun into her cheek, threatening to take her life if she disobeyed him. There was no such revulsion now; with one overt action she had crossed over into enemy territory. She had become an enemy, a threat; he could kill her if he had to, kill her without emotion because it was the practical thing to do.
Thank you Ludlum. Since we obviously weren’t paying attention when you described Bourne’s revulsion a mere two pages ago, it’s a good thing you reminded usin such detail. And again, thanks for being SO comprehensive in detailing ALL of Bourne’s thoughts. Human nature is completely beyond our comprehension, and we wouldn’t have understood what Bourne was feeling without your expert, certainly not-redundant prose.
Because I have to know. Because I’m going out of my mind. I see things and I hear things I do not understand. I’m a skilled, resourceful…vegetable! Help me!
This was one of Bourne’s interior monologue, taking place when he’s interviewing a suspicious old man in Zurich. He goes on to kill this man, like, 10 seconds later. Suffice it to say, a highly stressful situation. But here, Bourne is almost angsty and moody. And honestly, who compares themselves to a vegetable?
When you’re a word hound, like I am, it’s difficult to read and appreciate a book when you’re constantly stumbling over duds like these. If it wasn’t so annoying—and Ludlum wasn’t so serious—it would be funny. Bad writing always is, except when it’s masquerading as quality. Then, it’s just insulting.
Now, I plan to make my way through the rest of The Bourne Identity, but I’m seriously considering tossing out The Bourne Supremacy, and moving on to the next book in my list. Life is too short to be spent on bad books.