James's Reviews > The Faithful Spy

The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson
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Sep 11, 11

liked it

This book really caught my eye when I found it on here. It takes a unique - as far as I know - viewpoint on the war on terror, with the protagonist being a deep cover CIA agent in Al Qaeda. During his time there he has come to see the west as decadent and has converted to Islam, but he still works against Al Qaeda. So when he is sent home by Al Qaeda to do a mission, he is confronted by a decadent world, mistrusting employers and a plot to re-ignite the Jihad on America and its western allies. Yeah, sounds like it should be really, really interesting read.

But coming out of it all I got was a distinct sense of, 'meh'. I mean, I liked the subjects that were covered and the way that he did it, I just didn't connect with the book. All the way through it was damnably obvious that this was a average book, no more, no less. Three Stars all the way.

It had its good points.
- It wasn't your typical america is great so-on-so-forth, it was a nice investigation into the war on terror.
- The plot was anything but boring.
- It gave an insight into the mindsets of those fighting the war on terror.
- I really liked the music references; its like a nice bonus to read a book and have artists/songs you like being relevant to the book. It almost makes it that much more real to you, and being a big fan of Springsteen myself it was really nice to hear him mentioned more than twice.

And of course it has its bad points;
- When he escaped and the CIA just let him go. That was a perfect opportunity for the plot to really go into the whole do we/don't we trust him saga, but they just sat back and let it all be. It felt like a waste, and somewhat unreal - I mean, knowing that there is going to be a terror attack soon you don't just let one of your agents who may have flipped to Al Qaeda just walk away. You know?
- There was way too much emphasis on the terrorists. It almost felt like Wells had become a bit-part player in his own novel. The amount of time that was spent going over and over Y. Pesticide (or what ever it was - the plague) and the Al Qaeda scientists relationship was annoying as hell. I wanted more Wells, more... hero. Personally I think this is where the novel is weakest; for me, book's greatest strength comes from the ability to weave complex characters, for you to be one with the character to understand them like no one else. And this book lacks that. To be honest I think that this book would have made a great film, but as a book it just lacked characterisation for me.
- For an author who is also/used to be a journalist his English skills were lacking a little. I mean, the most obvious one was his inability to make lists. It was 'I have X and Y and Z and B and S', when a 'I have X,Y,Z,B and S works so much better! The amount of times I was jarred out of the book because of this alone...

But still, this is worth a read. It is not amazing, but it does delve into interesting ideas and is reasonably well presented. If you are looking for award winning material look else where, if you are looking for a beach read or just a relaxing thriller(ish) then this is your book.

Have Fun Reading.
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