The Bourne Betrayal by Eric Van Lustbader (Book Review) ~ BitterSweetLife

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Bourne Betrayal by Eric Van Lustbader (Book Review)

First, the small print: The Bourne Betrayal was my first experience of Jason Bourne in print, as opposed to the screen. I realize that I probably should have backed up and read the original books by Robert Ludlum, but, time-pressed thrill-seeker that I am, that did not happen. If you're willing to forgive the fact that I have no basis for comparing Eric Van Lustbader with the original Bourne mastermind, and that the films are my baseline Bourne experience, let's get on with this flash review.

The Bourne Betrayal is apparently the fifth book in the Jason Bourne franchise, but references to the earlier storyline revealed that the movies, which I love, absolutely wreak havoc with the original books. So much for continuity. But if you're reading the newer Bourne books, like I was, simply to get a fix, then picking up at this point works well.

In favor of this novel is the fact that the pages turn as if they've been placed directly under a high-powered ceiling fan. The action is fast and furious. The plot is as tricky as you'd expect. The characters are numerous and lethal, and frequently square off to kill each other. If you have an imagination, than the action sequences, fights, and chase scenes are every bit as explosive as their movie counterparts. In addition, you get the "world" vibe the movies maintained, since there are frequent changes of scenery. And Lustbader makes the military maneuvering and technology sound believable.

This is a good, action-packed spy novel. As such, you wouldn't expect the dialog to be deeply thought-provoking or even essential to read slowly. And it's not. Related to this, the characters are mostly quick sketches, with the obvious exception of Bourne, who by this time has been developed by both Ludlum and Lustbader in the previous four novels. However, Bourne comes across as more unusual than heroic in this book. More a paranoid hollow man, less a repentant killer making good. I wanted more insight into Bourne's character--but maybe I'm just spoiled by Matt Damon's acting.

** / *** All in all, The Bourne Betrayal was a satisfying page-turner with lots of excitement and cathartic violence as good beats the mess out of evil. Real life is not this way, but we sometimes wish it was. Missed your summer vacation? Everyone needs a book like this once in awhile.

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