Jennifer's Reviews > Worth Dying For

Worth Dying For by Lee Child
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's review
Feb 14, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: read-2011
Recommended to Jennifer by: Stephen King
Recommended for: fans of Reacher
Read from February 09 to 14, 2011

I have mixed feelings upon finishing this latest Lee Child novel. Slipping into the world of Jack Reacher (lots of violence and very little angst) is comforting and familiar. Child has a formula going in many of his books and for the most part, it works pretty well. Jack Reacher comes into a small town in Nebraska (but it could be Montana or Texas or anywhere else with wide open spaces and sparse populations) and discovers that something is not right. Even though he is on his way to somewhere else (in this novel, he's headed to Virginia to meet an important character from 61 Hours), he decides to stay and get involved. In Worth Dying For, Reacher's decision to drive a slightly drunk doctor to take care of a battered woman leads him to cross the Duncans, a family who controls this Nebraska county economically (and otherwise) with an iron fist. The events this one action set in motion are complex, layered, and ultimately bloody.

That said, I felt a bit uneasy in how the whole plot plays out and the phrase, revenge porn, again comes to mind. These are all bad, bad men but the fact that Reacher kills without remorse feels like a fantasy of what being a cop or a soldier is like. I think of Arkady Renko and Dave Robochieoux (sp?) and of how violence and rage lead to alcoholism and nightmares. In this novel, Jack Reacher is like a robot or an avenging angel, playing at humanity. I rooted for him the whole way but then felt kind of sick about it afterwards.
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02/25/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4)

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message 4: by Sara (last edited Feb 22, 2011 05:37PM) (new)

Sara Jen:

I, too, felt torn about this book and now know what you were talking about when you were describing it as revenge porn. Even bad, bad men have some sort of story to tell and I felt like some of that was absent. The unrepentant maiming and killing could maybe have been a bit nuanced had Reacher ever stopped to think about what had JUST happened to him (last book for us, but days before for him). What makes him stay? What makes him go for maximum hurt on everyone deemed guilty? Why can't he walk away? I want to know these things.

Reacher is always capable of extreme violence, but he's also usually somewhat thoughtful about the process and the decision to become violent (even if it's in a split second). In Worth Dying For, there's never any doubt that he's not going to die (not if he survived the last book, at least) and he seems chillier, colder, less human. He looks at the situation, does the math, and commences with the bloodshed. Arkady Renko and David Robicheaux (and Patrick Kenzie, etc) are so compelling to me because they are pierced by the things they have done and seen, and they are fully immersed in their worlds, sometimes painfully so. And though Child's has always made Reacher a wanderer and nomad, he's never before seemed so unmoored and adrift. This is not the Reacher I want to meet when he gets to Virginia, nor is he a Reacher who is a worthy partner for the woman who's waiting for him there. And that's plain disappointing.

Jennifer I was just watching some extras on the second Justified disc and they were talking about how Elmore Leonard doesn't just love his good guys but he's honestly intrigued by his bad guys as well. That's certainly what makes Justified so good, I think. Hearing the writers of the show talk about this helped me see why this book felt so empty.

Nona I have to agree with your classification of 'revenge porn'. I've watched shoot-'em-up action movies that weren't as soulless. I'm not surprised to see Child settling into a formula, but I wasn't expecting something so problematic.

Jennifer Nona, I couldn't agree more. I don't mind the formula in general but if this aspect becomes part of the formula, I'm out.

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