#SundayReview Lee Child and Jack Reacher

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I apologize for the fact this was not uploaded yesterday. I attended a family get together and then I displaced a bone in my wrist and had to reset and rest it. It’s fine, happens quite frequently as I broke my wrist a few years ago. I popped the bone back in and wore my splint for the rest of the day. It’s all good now! XD Anyway. This week I’d like to review the book Worth Dying For by Lee Child. Actually, it’s not really just a look at that one book, more a review of Jack himself.

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Author, Lee Child, created Jack Reacher as the lead character in a long running series of action novels. Next month will see the 21st Jack Reacher instalment–Night School, and I can’t wait to read it! Two of the books have been made into major movies, the first entitled Jack Reacher was based on the novel, One Shot. The second, due for release this month, is based on the book Never Go Back and is one of my favorite stories of the Jack Reacher series. While some dismiss the movies because they can’t accept Tom Cruise as Jack, I rather enjoyed the first instalment. As I often do with the books, there are some things you have to just believe, in order to enjoy them to their fullest. I bought all the books in paperback then replaced them with hardbacks when I fell in love with them, and Jack.

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Jack Reacher is an ex military cop. He served his time in the army as his father did before him. Blessed with a large athletic build and lightning reflexes, he is a stubborn man–one who seldom does anything outwith his own decision. He is a drifter, a traveller and he never stops roaming and hitchhiking across America. He goes to places which interests him then moves on to the next–but, not before finding trouble somewhere along the way. He has very few belongings, no bags or cases travel with him. The clothes on his back are never laundered, they are replaced with brand new store bought items when he feels they need replacing–usually after a few days wear. He stays wherever he can get a room and isn’t too picky about where he lays his head so long as there is a constant flow of good, strong coffee.

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No matter in what situation Jack finds himself, he always has a way out of it. Whether he is picked up by police or lands himself in the middle of a gun fight, Jack just needs to use that intelligent brain of his and brute force to find a way out of the situation. He has faced many a villain in his time. From mob bosses to serial killers, Jack has met and fought them all. He has survived bullets, bombs, crashes, falls, beatings and breaking of bones. The guy has scars all over his skin, one of which was caused by another soldier’s jaw bone which ripped open his stomach when the soldier was blown up in a bomb attack. Seriously, Jack is like the Wolverine of the Lee Child universe–you can beat him up, blow him up, and he will heal and come back angrier and stronger than before. He fights like a titan, delivering punches which could potentially tear the head off a person in reality. For many of the books, you have to regard Reacher–not as a man–but as a superhero, a man with preternatural powers and therefore read the books with some suspended judgement as they can at times be so out there in terms of believability. But this is what makes them so fun.

Lee Child created a character who is more human than any other human. Stronger and more capable than anyone he ever meets. He senses injustice like a dog smells food and often feels such righteous indignation over situations he stumbles over that he places himself in danger to right all wrongs. The man is larger than life and bigger than most. A monster to some and a warrior angel to others.

But Reacher is still human and that is where the best of the books comes in.

The reason I chose Worth Dying For, is not only because it is one of my favorites, nor even because it’s one of only four in the series within an actual story arc, but because we get to see a slightly less God-like version of Jack.

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In the book previous–61 Hours– Jack was injured so badly he can barely use his arms. It was a miracle he survived that book at all. He is tired, worried, looking for a place to rest and recuperate. He meets a doctor in a bar of the new town he visits. The doc is stinking drunk when he receives a call from a woman who has a nose bleed. After saying he won’t attend, Reacher reminds the doctor of his moral obligation and oath as a practitioner, then eventually drives the man to the patient in the doctor’s own car.

So begins one of the darker Jack Reacher books. The villains in Worth Dying For are not clearly defined to begin with. We know they are bad in the way they treat the town’s folk. Selfish and vengeful for some misdeed handed to them many years previous. And they have the town’s folk fully controlled, with contracts and threats and their army of pumped-up bad boys.

Jack should just walk away, this is none of his business and he is in no condition to fight. But then, Jack often inserts himself into other people’s lives and business. How he gets away with it, I don’t know. He just does. Maybe he is just there at the right time and people accept his help because at that particular point in their lives they are on their last nerve and have nothing left to lose.

It takes Jack a while to uncover the truth, and when he does, it is a real doozy. Unlike most of the other Reacher novels, Worth Dying For has a truly dark and seedy tale. It is a tale which many people face every day, and one which everyone prays they never encounter. By the end of the book I held a new appreciation for Jack. I felt chills down my spine at what he had uncovered. It’s not often a book can make me question humanity in the way this one did. There is only one other of the Reacher series which affected me so much–Make Me, another one of my faves.

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Both these books took us to a whole other level of evil and Jack found himself almost over his head in trouble. His thought process is unquestionable, his righteousness undeniable, but he is not the larger-than-life unconquerable hero in either of them. He gets hurt, he hurts back. He falls behind then struggles to catch up. He makes mistakes and he makes others pay for them.

Jack is human, and not always a very nice one, nor a very healthy one. It’s almost sad to see Jack in such a way, but he really isn’t a nice guy. I certainly wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of an argument with him. So why do I like him so damned much? Why do the Jack Reacher novels sell so well? Why do so many love Jack and wish he was real?

Because, Jack is a superhero. He is larger than life. And no matter how unbelievable the stories might be, we need him to be the hero. Everyone loves a hero, even one as broken and damaged as Jack Reacher. Perhaps it’s because we wish there were more folk like him. Travelling warriors who will make wrongs right, and put the baddies out of commission. Like a larger, dirtier, better and human Littlest Hobo, (if you remember the old tv series) Jack just makes things, right. A large brutish thug with questionable morals who does the business no one else will dirty their hands with. A hero. A superman. This is why we love Jack Reacher so much, and why when a new book or movie of the series is about to be released, we all scramble to reread the books in time to catch up. 😉
You can read more about Jack and his creator Lee Child here on the official site. If you are interested in reading any of the Reacher series, I recommend starting with the first; Killing Floor. It is a good introduction to Jack, and you can travel with him as he wanders America in search of some sort of peace.

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

 

 

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About oneofthedragons

Samantha K. Balk and F. R. Donaldson met on An Archive of Our Own, one of the many fanfiction sites online, when Sam asked Frankie to illustrate the fanfiction that would one day lead to Sam's first novel. They've been friends ever since! This blog was created as a way to share the oftentimes difficult journey any new author experiences on the uncomfortable quest of an introvert for attention to his or her most personal work. It is meant to remind you that authors don't just appear fully fledged like a George R. R. Martin, that all of us start out unsure and feeling inadequate. Feel free to ask us anything. Sam: sammykaye9@gmail.com Frankie: reluctant.fraggle@gmail.com

Posted on October 17, 2016, in #SundayReview, Frankeh Updates, Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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