Review: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

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star rating     star rating     half sar

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Published: 2013

” ‘It’s a terrible commentary on our times…when a suitcase nuclear bomb is more palatable than the truth’…How did the world ever get this crazy?” (355)

As a former screen writer and journalist, I had high expectations from Terry Hayes. Combined with the positive reviews online and dubbed “the only thriller you need to read this year” on the cover I thought that I would finish the 888 paged book in a mere couple days. Sadly, the book fell rather flat.

There are no real thrills in the book. Maybe the last 100 pages things get interesting, but the rest of the book is just following along the detective and searching for clues. More like just stating clues.

To be fair I did give this book 2.5 stars, mostly because I enjoyed the international aspect of it, particularly the connection to the middle east and Europe. The mention of Berlin, Natzweiler-Struthof, Geneva, Paris, Jeddah, Sofia, Bahrain and Greece just to name a few countries and cities mentioned in the book. The plot was interesting and I did want to find out how the individual stories were linked, but stylistically it lacked any unique traits and many aspects of the mystery were predictable.

The characters were very dry. Yes, all the characters are clever, brave and fit, but otherwise there was no depth to them. The characters are made to be the ultimate demi-gods making them lack any human quality which make you empathize with the characters. At the end for example, when Pilgrim is being tortured by Sacaren and his henchmen, how does he not die?! True, Hayes did try to give Pilgrim a troubles past, but it wasn’t believable and wasn’t expanded enough in the book. Pilgrim also knew absolutely everything. Who likes reading a book about a know-it-all? It’s like reading a tale about Barbie dolls. Sure, the characters were embroiled with tragedy and extreme situations, but the way the author conveyed it didn’t make me care.

I also disliked the author’s writing style. The entire book read like a journal article. The novel lacked any actual literature in the tale. The writing style was very matter of fact, and void of anything interesting or aesthetically pleasing. I felt myself cheering for the narrator only because I wanted the book to end. I felt no empathy for any of the characters and I felt disconnected from them. Stylistically it was a major fail. The only thing I did like were the short chapters, which enabled me to motivate myself to keep reading.

I do believe this book would be more interesting as a motion picture. It just lacks any literary prowess.

Verdict: Lacked any sort of star quality. There is no really literary aesthetic. If you want to just read English words then read this. Pick up a good ol’ Sherlock mystery or Gone Girl. Both are more thrilling than this bland read.

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7 thoughts on “Review: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

  1. TO be fair, a LOT of people really liked it based on the type of reviews you see online. I just really thought it fell flat. I can see how it can be more exciting as a film but as a book it was too far fetched and unbelievable. I just failed to connect with any of the characters leaving the book rather reserved in my mind.

  2. Pingback: August Update | friendlybookworm

  3. Having just finished the novel, I tend to agree that it would probably work better as a feature film; there’s just something about it that didn’t quite live up to the hype for me unfortunately.

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