Jim's Books


Matthew Reilly

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ISBN: 9780330487597


As 'Scarecrow' Schofield watches his mission to eliminate a Siberian turn into a bloodbath, he realises he has been tricked - and now become the prey rather than the predator. For a shadowy consortium of staggering power and wealth has included his name on a list of fifteen targets to be eliminated without fail by twelve noon that same day. Now every high-powered bounty hunter on the planet is on his trail, while he must simultaneously track down the perpetrators of a conspiracy about to reduce many of the major cities of the world to ashes.

Reviewed on 18th February 2010

A one-star review - which means a book that I failed to finish. The first for a long time. I'll admit, I should have been tipped off by only having paid £1 in the discount book shop, and that it's by an author with a seemingly substantial output and yet of whom I had never heard. I was also put off by the title 'Scarecrow' - a name that really doesn't fit a good character in a story.

The book feels like it was written as a film script and then very roughly chopped around to make it into a novel. The action is described in short sharp sentences that sound like instructions from a screenplay, and the characters back-stories seem to be chopped from a profile and dropped in the middle of the narrative, breaking the flow completely. The writing style is very casual, although inconsistently varies from page to page, which is quite distracting. It feels like it is meant to be a fast, action-packed thriller, but it just doesn't work.

I was also unimpressed by the plot - it's almost like a failed Tom Clancy. The characters are military, but there's nothing about them at the start of the novel to make them likeable - they are almost 2D cut-outs of the 'American Hero'. The characters all have silly nicknames: Scarecrow, Book II, and worst of all Bull. Every time the characters address him ("Bull!") it sounds in my head like they are using the expression which accuses someone of telling falsehoods.

Another big put off is the amount of jargon - the number of military terms and acronyms really put me off the flow. I'm no expert, and I really don't care what exact model of gun a character is using, just that it's a hand gun would be sufficient to fuel my imagination. Yes, Clancy does the same, but (as I recall, it being a few years since I've read a Clancy) his style explains the terminology and technology outside the flow of the narrative, which makes everything flow together much simpler.

So yes, this is a book I could not bring myself to continue with. I'm afraid I can't review most of the plot, because I've not found out where it is going to go, but it didn't excite me.

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