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2017 Reading Challenge

Jill Elizabeth has read 2 books toward her goal of 150 books.
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Book Review: Target Omega by Peter Kirsanow

“Many Americans, it seems more of them every day, expect comfort as an inalienable right. They think their government can and should provide a subsistence. These Americans are not our concern. It is the segment of America that expects nothing more than freedom that is our concern. The cowboys. The United States may have its problems, but it still exists. The Soviet Union does not.”

This was a great thriller… Mike Garin’s talents are exceeded only by his charms – charms that he wouldn’t recognize, but that readers instantly will. He is a superman who remains human; a hero with his feet on the ground. Kirsanow has written a protagonist who is a perfect blend of uber-commando and everyman – I don’t know how he managed to keep his elite special forces operator from ever feeling over the top or too specialized to be relatable, because this is a character who is, quite literally, at the top of his game. He doesn’t skip a beat when his entire team is slaughtered, when his enemies seem to constantly be one step ahead of him, or even when he can’t find a single person to believe in him… Of course he ultimately does find a believer in his tale – and she turns out to be as unique as he is. From there, the drama and intrigue grow even thicker on the ground until the ultimate confrontation delivers a one-two punch that is just as action-packed as the rest of the book.

The geopolitical thriller as a genre has suffered since the decline of the Cold War. Once upon a time, not that long ago, there was A Bad Guy (the Soviet Union) that could be easily contrasted to The Good Guy (the U.S.). But since the fall of the Soviet Union, and the rise of a broader-based, more diffuse “enemy”, the genre has suffered more than a bit to my mind. That’s because it is much harder to paint a story-able conflict when there isn’t a singular black hat to set in opposition to a singular white hat. As a result, the drama and opposition are spread out more in the more contemporary iterations, which makes the plots more convoluted (much like actual geopolitics) and gives the stories a different, less straightforward, feel. There have been a few exceptions (most notably, in my opinion, I Am Pilgrim by the indomitable Terry Hayes and pretty much anything by Matthew Reilly), but generally speaking, I think it has gotten tougher to write spy/geopolitical thrillers that deliver the same punch that the old-school “Us vs. Them” Cold War authors like Nelson deMille or Tom Clancy (in his Jack Ryan heyday) could… With the introduction of Mike Garin, Kirsanow has revived the old school feel in a way that somehow still manages to be fresh and entertaining and not at all derivative. No small feat, that, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing more in the series as a result!

My review copy was provided by NetGalley.

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