If you grade Kyle Mills relative to other authors who recently were tasked with continuing a popular series (i.e. David Lagercrantz / Stieg Larsson, Grant Blackwood / Tom Clancy) then I think he deserves high marks. It reads and feels very consistent with the Mitch Rapp that Vince Flynn unleashed on the world.
However, if you set aside everything else and simply critique the book in an objective manner, then a couple things distracted me. For the first third of the book the bad guys are continually lamenting how hard it is to kill Rapp. He’s a “survivor,” hence the name of the book. It felt really over-the-top, but at the same time, it was cool because it also felt like a tribute to Vince Flynn that his character is going to be continued. I assumed that any book that spends so much time setting up a theme would see it through to the last page, but then everything shifted mid-stream and suddenly it wasn’t important anymore. It was a major disconnect, and probably had more to do with Kyle Mills stepping in to finish something started by Vince Flynn than anything else … but still, it was really distracting.
The other thing: for the last two-thirds of the book it felt like Rapp was a comic book super hero instead of a serious literary character with a unique worldview. Kennedy didn’t even bother trying to control Rapp. He literally did whatever he wanted. His reaction to every colleague was to threaten him or her physically. He offered to kill a senator or even the president if necessary. I mean come on, this is a serious character? Rapp has always had a singular us vs. them mindset. Rapp has always been difficult to get along with. But Rapp has always been heroic. For much of the final chapters he was nothing more than a bad caricature.
I will add one thing: I think a lot of this was done by Kyle Mills to set up a way to evolve and grow Rapp as a character. He gave us a glimpse of that toward the end of the book, as we see an introspective Rapp for the first time. It will be interesting to see if this continues in the next book and how Mills plans to develop Rapp.
3.5 / 5 stars.