I Am Pilgrim – Terry Hayes

At first, I was going to write a generally positive review about I am Pilgrim. I mean the story is very cool. But I thought about it, and I realised something. It’s a cool story, but giving it a positive review would be letting the author, and his editors and publishing house, off easy. Honestly, this book was a disappointment. It has all of the elements of a great story – amazing plot, intriguing characters, and it grabs your interest right away. You want to know about the murder victim, you want to know about the super-agent who is the protagonist, you want to know about everyone the author is talking about.

It’s the story of a mega super spy who decides to retire and write a book about investigative techniques, and is called into help solve a murder and through that drawn into a potential plot to destroy America. While working on the murder, we go through several stages of this agent’s life – and through it all, he remains two dimensional and boring, he’s obviously so amazing and the best at everything, but we don’t ever see it. We are just reminded of it constantly. It was almost as though the author was trying to deny the man’s mediocrity by telling us how kick ass he is, versus actually showing it to us. I want to envy his badass-ness, not hear it. I want to see the world through his eyes. Not have you tell me how he sees it. Even worse, the voice changes throughout the book, so it’s clear that the thoughts and opinions are not of the protagonist himself, but of the author.

This is what makes it even worse. The book is filled with racism, sexism and obvious propaganda. If properly written, we’d hear it in the protagonist’s voice, and try to understand his point of view, even if we don’t like it (Conn Iggulden’s Dunstan is a good example of that). The multiple references to boobs, lack of intelligence, curves, exotic features, etc. show the little thought he gives to his female characters. Plus all of them are beautiful with deep set eyes, of course. In addition, the author’s obvious disdain for the Muslim word smacks you on the head continuously. Now don’t get me wrong – there are a lot of problems with what is happening in the Muslim world, but America is no picnic either. Or other countries for that manner. And while you’re supposed to think that this is the point of view of the protagonist – this book is so badly written that you can tell it’s the author’s point of view.

Honestly, if you’re a person who likes badly written spy stories and you don’t like women or Muslims, I have a great book for you. Otherwise, put it on the self and forget it. Not worth the 600 pages. I am 100% certain there are better thrillers out there.

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