Wednesday, November 16, 2016
I Am Pilgrim by, Terry Hayes
I wish I could remember who recommended this book because I'd never listen to a recommendation from them again. I Am Pilgrim is described as a "breakneck race against time", but you're more likely to want to break your own neck than read another page.
The novel starts out with an unnamed narrator at a murder scene in New York City and ends up being a globetrotting chase for a terrorist who developed a vaccine resistant strain of smallpox. In mysteries where there are two unrelated cases, they almost always end up being different sides of the same coin. In this novel, the two story lines are only connected by the thinnest of coincidences. In fact, every link of the plot is made by either dumb luck or coincidence.
Terry Hayes is a seasoned journalist and a successful screenwriter, which makes the amateurness of this novel surprising. If you drop about 150 of the first 170 pages, the novel is greatly improved. With that said, you'd still have to deal with a ton of overwriting, a whole mess of passive voice, confusing points of view shifts within the same scene, and what I can only assume he thinks is foreshadowing but comes off as annoying and not in any way suspenseful. Never mind the fact that the book is all tell, tell, tell. The balance between scene and summary is way out of whack.
There are elements in here that could work if there were many more drafts or a better editor, but as it stands, the book is not very good.