Thursday, January 21, 2010

Review: The Long Way Home by Andrew Klavan

This book was provided to me by Thomas Nelson Publishers through Book Sneeze.

Title: The Long Way Home (Due out Feb. 2, 2010)

Author: Andrew Klavan

Pages: 342

Challenges: Read 'n' Review challenge

First sentence: "The man with the knife was a stranger."

Summary (From the back cover):
Charlie West went to bed one night an ordinary high school student. He woke up a hunted man. Terrorists are trying to kill him. The police want to arrest him for the stabbing death of his best friend. He doesn't know whose side he's on or who he can trust. With his pursuers closing in on every side, Charlie makes his way back to his hometown to find some answers. There, holed up in an abandoned mansion, he's joined by his friends in a desperate attempt to discover the truth about a murder he can't remember -- and the love he can never forget.

My Two Cents:
The Long Way Home is the second book in the Homelanders series by two-time Edgar award-winning author Andrew Klavan. I've not read the first book in the series (The Last Thing I Remember) , but I don't think it's absolutely necessary to have read the first book to understand the second. Actually, I think it makes the second book more intriguing because you don't know what happened in the first book.

The book starts out with a fight in a library bathroom between Charlie and an unknown assailant with a knife, and the action rarely lags from there on out. Charlie is on the run from a lot of very powerful -- and dangerous -- people, so it makes sense that he has a kind of Maniac Magee thing going on.

Since the book is so action-heavy, it's a really quick read, even by young adult standards. I think I finished this whole book in under three hours, pretty good considering its page count.

In terms of characterization, I thought Klavan did a good job with creating a believable fall-guy of sorts in Charlie, as well as creating some believable (albeit somewhat stereotypical) teenage characters in his friends. The two adults we see are also fairly believable (again, somewhat stereotypical) characters. But, since this seems to be a book about plot and action, I can forgive the stereotyping of the teens -- the nerdy friend who has all the technological hook-ups, the big lovable guy who looks scarier than he is, etc.

There was one point on which my suspension of disbelief kind of wavered. His friends try to help him out by providing him with food and clothing, and they spend a lot of time with him. I found myself wondering where these kids' parents were, that they didn't notice their kids weren't home a couple of nights, and where the kids got all the money they needed to help Charlie out. It's a small point, but it kind of bugged me.

Another thing that kind of got to me was the constant repetition of certain words and phrases in sentences. For example:

I was running out of time. I had to get out of here.
I scooped up the knife from the floor. I slipped the brutal blade under my belt so that it went into my pocket. I pulled down my fleece so that it hid the handle.
Maybe it's the writer in me, but I couldn't seem to get past the fact that Klavan began five sentences in a row with "I."

I also wasn't a fan of how heavy-handed the love of country plot got at times. Sure, I realize that it was necessary to show that Charlie really loves America and would be about the least likely kid to join a homegrown terrorist group, but I didn't really need paragraphs popping up every few dozen pages to tell me that. Paragraphs such as this:

The page was headlined: "Real True America: Debunking the Myths, Getting the Facts Straight." There were a lot of links on the page, but I only had to go to a few of them before I realized what they were. Basically it was a list of every bad thing that had ever happened in this country, everything people had ever done wrong. You know the stuff: slavery and some of the unfair attacks on American Indians and so on. Some of it really was bad and some of it only looked bad when taken out of its historical context. And there was none of the good stuff at all. Nothing about the Constitution and the way it preserved and protected the freedom God gave people to do and think and become whatever they could. Nothing about the fact that America's influence had brought that freedom to places where it had never been and protected it in places where it was under attack. There's so much about this country that is unique in history and great for humankind. But none of that was there. It was only about the bad stuff people do, which happens in America just like it happens everywhere else.
 OK, Charlie, I get it. America's great. But, wow. Did you need to go on about it that much? It was a little too "America's great and can do no wrong" for me.

Despite these criticisms, I really did enjoy this book, especially since I'm not usually into the thriller genre, young adult or otherwise. I think it's a great book for teens and adults who want some action and a quick read.

My rating: 7/10


bermudaonion said...

The book sounded pretty good when you compared it to Maniac Magee! I'm surprised all those sentences starting with an i weren't edited better.

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