Monday, May 5, 2014

A Clear And Present Danger...Of Sucking (Yeah, take that Clancy!)

Clear and Present Danger (Jack Ryan, #5)Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There was a clear and present danger that I wasn't going to finish this.

I don't watch soap operas. I used to. I'd get home and General Hospital would be on (Mom was heavily invested in the Luke & Laura saga,) so I got stuck with it. Consequently I know a soap opera when I see one and Clear and Present Danger is a soap opera.

How so? It jumps from character to character, from scene to scene. Some of it's nearly as melodramatic as a soap, but I won't go that far in my analogy. Mainly the issue is in the episodic nature of the storytelling. The scenes are big-time ADHD in how they flitter back and forth.

This has an adverse affect on character development. In fact, it seems as if Clancy attempts to counter this with info dumps. Often he introduces a brand new character, who may not even be particularly important, with a mountainous info-dump… This is Joe Schmoe. Joe was born in Eastbumfuq, IL, went to school at… and a minute later Mr. Schmoe is dead. I know it's a writer's attempt to instill an instant reader-connection to the character so that his death means something, but it doesn't work for me. I don't give a shit if a thousand such Joe Schmoes die at the hands of the baddest of bad guys. Nice try, but perhaps the issue is that you're trying to pack too much stuff into an already chunky book. Emotional bonds take time to develop.

Okay, I've been too nasty those far. Let's look at Clancy's good points...

Action is his strong suit. He puts you right in it. Whether it's firing a gun from a helicopter or stalking an enemy in the jungle, you're in the shit with the characters.

However, if you were to debate that his strongest point is his research and application of military technical details within his books, I would concede. Guns, ships, helicopters, military rank and decorum, wartime politics, spy craft, covert missions, etc etc etc phew-eee! This book grunts and oozes the stuff! I can see how military buffs, special ops fanatics, and "gun nuts" would go gah-gah over a book like this. We've all got our little fetishes and Clancy provides the porn for violent techies. (Before you start calling me a liberal, hippy, pussy, tree hugger or any of that shit, just shut the fuck up. I've owned guns since I was a kid.) I just don't get a woody over firearms anymore. I shot that load when I was pre-teen and moved on. But I guess if reading a Clancy novel satisfies the sort of person that gets off on that shit and it helps them get it out of their system, well then I'm glad these books exist.

Okay, back to the nasty…

Where the F is Jack Ryan? He's barely mentioned in the first half of the book and then when he does show up it's only to look around and ask, "what's going on?" And that is really his only purpose in the book, and it's purposeless. Sure, the main character fumbling about trying to figure out what's going on works great for murder mysteries, but that's because we the reader also don't know what's going on. We're finding out the truth with them. But here we already know what's going on because that's what's being related in the main story. That's the more interesting part! Every time Clancy cuts to Jack the book bogs right down into a full-on snorefest.

Like I said at the top, I almost didn't finish this. After about the midway point the whole freakin' thing turned into one of those snorefests for me. The writing was only adequate, the storytelling too jumpy, the spot-lighted details not my cup of tea. Perhaps if I spiked my tea with testosterone? Nah. I'd only end up inadvertently ripping the book in half out of sheer excitement.

Rating: 2.5 stars. I generously gave it three stars only because I'm in a good mood and GR's rating system is ridged.

* * * * * * * * *

(Note upon the author's death)
Seems like it's becoming a thing where if an author's book sits on my nightstand waiting to be read for more than a couple weeks, the author is doomed to die. Yikes.

No comments:

Post a Comment