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Lee Child and Jack Reacher : Book Discussion • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Lee Child and Jack Reacher

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wdarcy
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Lee Child and Jack Reacher

Postby wdarcy » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:50 pm

I don't usually read this sort of thriller, but the interview with Lee Child in WD and the new movie with Tom Cruise piqued my curiosity. So I downloaded a sample of "One Shot" (the basis for the film "Jack Reacher") to my iPhone and prepared to encounter some pretty bad writing.

And boy was I right. Child is a terrible wordsmith. His short, choppy sentences a la Hemingway (but believe me, he is no Hemingway) and his propensity for minutely describing every simple physical motion, not to mention his tendency to begin seven sentences in a row with the same word, really put me off. Next to him, Dan Brown is Shakespeare.

But somehow I couldn't stop reading. I kept flipping the pages to see what happened next. When I got to the end of the sample I was furious, because I needed to keep reading. I didn't want to read the whole thing on my iPhone, so I checked out Amazon, but they would have taken two days to send me the paperback. So I ran to the bookstore and bought a copy. And read it to the end.

Final analysis (my opinion, of course): Child is an awful writer but a fantastic storyteller. After a while you forget how wretched the prose is, because you become engrossed in the story and can't wait to see what happens next. Now I'm almost finished with my second Jack Reacher novel, "Tripwire," which is terrific. It's a much earlier novel than "One Shot" and seems better written. Maybe his writing skills, such as they aren't, deteriorated over time. But not his storytelling skills.

So now I'm hooked on Lee Child and Jack Reacher. Just glad there are so many other novels by this author to read. :-)

Happy New Year, everyone!

--Warren
"Wagner's 'Das Rheingold'" (Oxford 1993). Winner of the Society for Music Theory's Wallace Berry Award, 1995.

"Elements of Sonata Theory" co-authored with James Hepokoski(Oxford 2006). Winner of the Society for Music Theory's Wallace Berry Award, 2008.

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Dostxbook
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Re: Lee Child and Jack Reacher

Postby Dostxbook » Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:47 am

Like you, because of the new film, I decided to read the first Reacher novel: Killing Floor. At first glance, I wasn't sure that I wanted to spend over 600 pages with this writer. And after 600 pages, I'm still not sure I want to read any more since it appears that Child has a tendency to run long on telling his stories (the 2nd book is over 600 pages as well). I can't speak for the book you mentioned since I haven't actually read it, but Killing Floor felt too... coincidental. It was hard for me to accept the story because of Jack Reacher's weak connection to the conflict (just by chance through the death of a brother he hadn't seen in years, and only because he happened to take a detour while traveling through Georgia). It didn't work for me, and the prose didn't do much either. I may give Child and Reacher another chance, but it will only be through the local library.
Stephen Book

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wdarcy
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Re: Lee Child and Jack Reacher

Postby wdarcy » Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:40 pm

Yeah, I downloaded a sample of "Killing Floor" and decided to pass, primarily because it's written in first person, and I'm not about to stay locked in one person's PoV for 600 pages unless the author is a helluva lot better writer than Lee Child. Besides which, I don't find Jack Reacher all that interesting or likable a character. However, "Tripwire," like "One Shot," is written in third person limited with multiple PoV's and has quite a gripping plot and a terrifying villain (much more interesting a character than Reacher himself).

Child has been criticized for his overuse of coincidence, but I find that the least objectionable aspect of his writing. He does keep me turning the pages, and really that's all I ask in a genre novel.

--Warren
"Wagner's 'Das Rheingold'" (Oxford 1993). Winner of the Society for Music Theory's Wallace Berry Award, 1995.

"Elements of Sonata Theory" co-authored with James Hepokoski(Oxford 2006). Winner of the Society for Music Theory's Wallace Berry Award, 2008.

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gesler0811
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Re: Lee Child and Jack Reacher

Postby gesler0811 » Wed May 15, 2013 3:57 pm

Agreed and agreed. The stories have a way of gripping at you, and not letting you go.

I've read Killing Floor, Die Trying, and Tripwire, the first three books in the series.

I actually started reading the first book as an accident. I was looking for Lincoln Child, found Lee Child, didn't realize I had come across a different author, and started reading :D

Anyway, Killing Floor was plagued with coincidences that really struck me as too much even for a suspension of disbelief. If you don't want to read a minor spoiler, skip to the next paragraph. ......... What are the odds that Jack would wander the countryside aimlessly and just happen to walk right past the very place where his brother had just been murdered the night before?

Anyway, I love the books, despite their shortcomings. I love the cool, dispassionate way that Reacher evaluates his predicaments and finds a solution. I think of him as something of a cross between the deductive sleuthing skills of Sherlock Holmes but the kick-butt can't-be-beat awesomeness of Schwarzenegger in the 80s. Completely unrealistic, but there it is.

As it stands, the coincidences don't just happen in the books themselves, but if you step back, the coincidences from book to book kind of pile up as well.

For instance, in the first book, he walks past a murder scene, gets suspected, and gets drawn into a conspiracy. In the second book, he is walking past a cleaners, and the woman he helps pick up her clothes just happens to be an FBI agent who gets kidnapped AT THAT VERY MOMENT and he is drawn into a conspiracy. Then in the third book a private investigatort happens to get killed right after speaking to Jack, and again, he gets pulled into a conspiracy. How many conspiracies can one guy get involved in by pure, dumb luck? Despite the good storytelling, I finally just had to stop after the third book.





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