I Am Pilgrim

“I’m afraid that what follows isn’t pleasant. If you want to sleep easy in your bed, if you want to look at your kids and think there is a chance they will live in a world better than the one we leave behind, it might be better not to meet him.” (I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes)

I Am Pilgrim by Terry HayesMy biggest reading pet peeve is when authors don’t respect the intelligence of their readers. Sometimes, authors over-simplify a character or plot. Other times, they over-explain in the end of book wrap-up. Occasionally, as in the case of Terry Hayes, they over-foreshadow so that the reader cannot help but understand the complex web of cause-and-effect that the author creates. Hayes not only predicts/constrains the reader’s reaction to the book with the above quote, but he also foreshadows in real-time, promising the reader that they’ll understand the effect of each action in due course. Personally, I prefer my narratives unadulterated in this fashion – I rather like to pick apart all of the causes and effects myself.

On the other hand, Hayes does take an incredibly complex, multi-layered plot and makes it comprehensible to anyone that might chance to pick up the book. Having forced myself through a number of incomprehensible thrillers/police procedurals, I admire Hayes’ ability to clarify a muddy situation. Though he may make the mistake of over-emphasizing correlation and causation, he keeps the pace even with wry, un-phaseable characters and light, understated dialog. So, don’t read this book for its foreshadowed reactions of sleepless nights; read it for the promises it doesn’t make: the promise of a satisfying ending, and plenty of self-effacing, charming characters.

Recommended Action: BuyBorrowTBR Avoid
Length: 611
Ending: Satisfying and wrapped-up
Incidental Learning: Secret Intelligence World, Geography/Customs of Turkey
Further Reading: If you, unlike me, enjoy a lot of foreshadowing, you might want to check out She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb and (though nonfiction) Come as you Are
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