Dead or Alive, by Tom Clancy
Release Date: December 2010
Synopsis: “For years, Jack Ryan, Jr. and his colleagues at the Campus have waged an unofficial and highly effective campaign against hte terrorists who threaten western civilization. The most dangerous of these is the Emir. This sadistic killer has masterminded the most vicious attacks on the west and has eluded capture by the world’s law enforcement agencies. Now the Campus is on his trail. Joined by their latest recruits, John Clark and Ding Chavez, Jack Ryan, Jr. and his cousins, Dominick and Brian Caruso, are determined to catch the Emir and bring him in . . . dead or alive.”
Review: In one word: Wow. If you want a really good, long book, Dead or Alive is it for you. I barely have any criticism for this. The only thing that I disliked slightly, was that the chapters (and some paragraphs) were at times longer than I would like. That isn’t really criticism, though, and more of a preference. While I do prefer shorter chapters — it keeps me wanting to read more, for some reason, ’cause I can just say “just __ more pages until the next chapter” and then keep saying that over and over again until I’ve read many chapters — it definitely did not distract from this wonderfully written novel. Then the only other thing is that he doesn’t put the place at the beginning of each chapters, as some other writers do. Not that it really matters, as after a few paragraphs or so you’ll know where it is, but it’s nice to have it right up front, and also to remind you in case you’ve forgotten exactly where this is or something. But anyway.
The thing I liked most has to be Tom Clancy’s writing style. The only author that has satisfied me as much as this book has (and maybe slightly moreso, but Clancy comes very close) would be Vince Flynn, and I have to admit, I liked Dead or Alive better than some of Vince Flynn’s (who is my favorite author) books (and the only reason why I like Flynn’s books better would be mostly due to the characters, as I like both of their writing styles). But still, whether it be action, description, dialogue, or whatever, Tom Clancy nails it. I’ve also heard some say that Tom Clancy goes overboard with descriptions. Maybe that’s the case with some of his other books, but not in this one, IMO. I really enjoyed all the descriptions he gave, and they didn’t seem to slow down the pace of the story.
Which leads me to the next thing: I am quite amazed by Clancy’s level of knowledge. It actually kinda discourages me from writing a novel myself, because I can’t fathom how I’d ever be able to know as much as he does, lol. It makes for a very enjoyable read, though; it always helps to think that the writer knows what he’s talking about, and I know Clancy does. And plus, you get to learn in the process of enjoying a great book.
I was slightly disappointed with one of the deaths that took place during the novel — it seemed like it should have had a greater impact on me as a reader, but it didn’t. Maybe the writing was realistic in that sense (as I am 16 and haven’t experienced a great impacting death), or maybe I just read it too fast or something, but still — I wasn’t left with the usual feeling that I get when something like that happens during other novels/movies/et cetera.
The last thing is that I think I could have enjoyed it more if I had read his other novels, but that didn’t distract from the novel itself, and is probably just me. Clancy did a good job in writing so that you didn’t have to read the other novels to feel like you know what was going on, but I still think it would have been cool (but of course I’m one of those guys that likes to read the whole series in order).
In conclusion, definitely a thrilling and enjoyable read. Some day I’m going to read through Clancy’s Jack Ryan books in chronological order as I really did enjoy this one. Definitely recommended to anyone that hasn’t read it yet.