Friday, December 17, 2010

The Ghost War by Alex Berenson

Book: The Ghost War (John Wells #2)

Author: Alex Berenson

Grade: C

Recommended To: Anyone who enjoys a quick action novel, but doesn't mind a lot of plot holes.

The Ghost War is Alex Berenson's second book and like many authors he has chosen to focus on one character and place that character in a different situation in each novel. That character is John Wells who is a Jack Bauer/ 24-esq type figure that can basically save America, no matter what. In this novel John Wells has to stop a imminent war between China and the United States.

Here's what I liked about the novel:

1. It is a fast read. Alex breaks up his novel with short paragraphs and large text which made the 539 pages of this paperback fly by. Further, if you don't really care about plot and just want something entertaining, then this is a great book. But, I found that the holes were too numerous and treacherous to allow me to enjoy this book.

Here's what I didn't like about the novel:

1. Compared to the first John Wells novel, this plot was extremely thin. Berenson spends 500 pages working up to a finale that is only about 50 pages long and then struggles in those last few pages to explain the first 3/4 of the book.

***Spoiler Alert***

The reason that China is in a struggle with the US is that one man, Li, wants to rule China all by himself. So, he orchestrates an incredibly complex plan involving Iran, Afghanistan and North Korea in order to provoke the US into attacking China. Honestly, WHAT? The whole "reason" presented behind this nonsense is that Li thinks he can do a better job of running China than the current guy in charge. I felt like I waited 450 pages to find out the excellent reason behind this "war" and then was totally disappointed as Berenson struggled to put some emphasis behind this completely ridiculous reason.

2. Berenson has obviously researched his novels, even though his plot line is inexcusably weak, and he likes to show off his knowledge by making the dialogue authentic. So, he uses a lot of military and CIA lingo that the average reader probably wouldn't know. Then, annoyingly, he explains what the lingo means even before allowing the character to finish the sentence. This results in a series of asides where the narrator is explaining a bunch of stuff to the reader that adds nothing to the book and just draws attention to the choppiness of the narrative. It. is. distracting.

Overall, I give this book a solid C. I think it was a marked step down from The Faithful Spy which was his first John Wells novel and merited at least a B grade. Look for that review in the coming weeks as I try to catch up on everything I've read this year!

Happy Reading!

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