Tuesday 6 October 2015

I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

It is always a good idea to have some time to pause and think before writing a review. In an ideal world, I would write down all my original thoughts about the book, without giving a rating. I would then leave it for a few days, and come back to the thoughts, edit and tidy up what I’d said, add a few things and decide on a rating, after mulling over it for a while.

It almost never works like that.

One thing I try not to do is read any reviews before I post my own. In this case, I broke that very important rule.

All I knew about I am Pilgrim before I started it was:

1. My hairstylist recommended it, saying it was hectic.

2. It looked like a thriller, with about 800 pages – which was a good sign.

3. I needed a new book on Audible, and with nearly 23 hours of listening pleasure, this would work for me.

When I started, I was enthralled. I followed Pilgrim and the Saracen all over the world, gasped in shock when they did terrible things, was suitably impressed when they were clever, and wondered how all these many threads were finally going to weave together.

Terry Hayes, in his first novel, knows how to get a reader hooked, and also how to keep one guessing. A thriller of note, but with a touch of the international espionage and detective work, and less of the psychological, this was written with a movie and a sequel in mind.

So why, when I reached the heart-wrenching and harrowing conclusion, did I feel the need to see what others thought? Silly me.

You see, for every ten gushing reviews of this book, there is one that completely slates it. In a very intellectual, critical, what-was-the-author-thinking-this-is-drivel kind of way. And when I read these reviews, I could see their points. And I wondered why I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Perhaps I am not as smart or well-read as these reviewers? (Or perhaps they were just a teensy weensy bit bitter that such an “undeserving” first novel has had so much success?) 

I'm going to say "Bah, humbug" to the critics, and admit wholeheartedly, that I thoroughly loved this book.

I suspect that part of my enjoyment was because I listened on Audible. When listening, the little details are not as crucial, and you listen more for the flow of the story and the connections than for the errors and the omissions. Also, you cannot easily flip back and check things, so you have to trust the story as it unfolds. Reminiscent of the Ken Follett and Nelson de Mille eras, but firmly set in today’s world, this was a wonderful tome of entertainment.

There was a lot of detail in the beginning, and towards the end, I did feel that it dragged a little, and there was some contriving – yet another mystery created to be unraveled, that slowed the pace unnecessarily. But it all came together, and no plot construct was wasted - all made sense in the end.

My final judgement – a great thriller and wonderful entertainment value.

4 out of 5 stars

Did you love it or hate it? Leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you.

No comments: