American Assassin, by Vince Flynn
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: October 12, 2010
Synopsis: “This action-packed prequel sets the stage for the ten previous Mitch Rapp thrillers. American Assassin takes readers back to the event that changed the future operative’s life, the 1988 Lockerbie Pan Am Flight 103 bombing that killed 270 people, including the woman he loved. This act of mass terror puts Rapp irrevocably on a death-defying path against evil extremist conspirators.”
Review: When writing this review, I had just finished reading it for a second time, and let me tell you: I enjoyed it just as much as the first time. I really, really love this book.
And my reasons are numerous. First and foremost, it was amazingly written. Yes, as you will find out from most other reviews you read (customer reviews on barnesandnoble.com, for example), there were some spelling and other mistakes that the editor should have caught, but personally, I did not think those mistakes distracted too much from the story — and they are definitely not as numerous as some reviews would lead you to believe, even if there are quite a few. I myself am usually quite picky about grammar and other errors, but because of Vince Flynn’s excellent writing, it did not drag the story down at all.
Bottom line: Yes, there were some mistakes. No, I don’t think they ruined the story. Rather, his writing grabs your attention from the start, and keeps you hooked until the end. He balanced descriptions, dialogue, and explanations so as to keep the story moving, especially if you enjoy characterization.
Which leads me to my next reason: the thing I liked most about American Assassin was the characterization.
Mitch Rapp is my favorite character from any series by far, and this book is all him — this is his beginning, his recruitment, his training, his first kill. And actually his training was my favorite part. I almost wish Vince Flynn would have stayed with his training longer, though I understand that that may be tedious. In some other reviews I was reading people were complaining about how much training there was already and how there wasn’t as much action as usual. But hey, maybe it’s just me; I love having some not-completely-full-of-action-but-still-exciting scenes that go into the character. Or in this case, a lot of them, as a good third/half of the book is just his training. Another reason for that would be Stan Hurley — Rapp’s mentor/trainer. He is also a very awesome character and you get to see a lot of him here.
Part of the training that was also good were a few hand-to-hand fights that Rapp took part in/witnessed. I thought they were incredibly well written. I know from experience that it’s really hard to write a good fight scene while being able to describe what’s happening and allow the reader to know what’s going on while at the same time not over describing things and still making for a quick, fluid, and exciting read.
My second favorite part of the book would be the latter part of the book [heh, my favorite parts are the beginning and end, it seems]. I don’t want to give too much away [I don’t think this gives away too much; at least, I would be fine with hearing this before I read the book, but whatever], but:
I really liked the torture scene of Stan Hurley. Not the torture itself, mind you, but again, we get some great characterization of this awesome character here, and it just really shows who he is. And he’s definitely awesome. Now, yeah, some parts were slightly hard to read because of the gruesome ways in which he was tortured, but I loved the characterization that you got out of it.
All the characters are awesome, though, really. Director Stansfield, Dr. Kennedy, Dr. Lewis, the people Rapp work/train with, etc. Every minor character that doesn’t seem all that important is interesting, and Mr. Flynn makes them each interesting and a joy to read about.
As I kind of said earlier the plot was very well done. And even though there is less action in this book than usual, I still really, really enjoyed it, and it’s probably my favorite book [though I love all of Vince Flynn’s books so it’s hard to decide]. The dialogue was also very realistic, I thought.
So really, the only critique I have for this would be that it didn’t stay longer with the training and there were a few editing errors. But really, I wouldn’t even call that critique; the former is just something that I would enjoy, but the story didn’t by any means feel lacking without it, and the latter is moreso the editor’s fault.
Definitely recommended if you can get your hands on it.