I’ve said before that Mark Greaney is my favorite of the Tom Clancy “co-authors” and the perfect choice to continue the Jack Ryan series — however, I was disappointed with Commander in Chief.
On the plus side, it is very true to the Clancy formula, which has many characters and disparate plot lines developing simultaneously. I have always loved this, because even if you knew what was going to happen, you also knew the plots were going to converge in a tense, dramatic way.
But the problem here is that the convergence is completely void of suspense or any kind of tension. I’m not even sure why, because the story itself is actually good. It involves an out of control Putin-esque Russian president who is annexing former Soviet states and daring NATO to intervene. It’s very much straight from the news and relevant to the times we live in … but it’s just not written in a way that’s very exciting. I found much of the book to be predictable and boring, and was actually hoping for an ending reminiscent of Debt of Honor because otherwise the events in the book would be entirely forgettable.
I was also disappointed with the way a number of characters are now being written: Clark, Chavez, Dom and Ryan Jr. are more like characters from a James Bond movie than the realistic, gritty characters from an old school Tom Clancy novel. And in Commander in Chief there are also two professional assassins from Amsterdam that, if I’m being honest, felt like they were from a really bad B movie or even a no-name dark comic book series.
The plot is old school Clancy, but the characters are pseudo-Jason Bourne — and I think that’s why it fell flat for me. I will continue to read the series though, with the hope it gets back on track.
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