Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Book Review: The Bourne Identity
The Bourne Identity
by Robert Ludlum
* * * * */5
An espionage novel that thrills from start to end.
If there is ever a novel worth labelling thriller, this is it. A real page turner from the word go - from first page to last and everything in between. This is the second Ludlum novel I have read, first being The Matarese Countdown which was quite average. This so much more infinitely better, well researched, well plotted, planned, characterised, thought out and with a fastpaced action packed narrative. If anyone thinks NYT bestsellers are not literature then they have never come across such masterpiece storytelling and probably live in a remote cave with their loathsome copies of Shakespeare or John Updike.
The Bourne Identity is a gripping tale of a man, his origins, his uncertain present and conspiracies that entangle a range of ruthless or unsuspecting people somehow associated with the man they dont really know. The movie version is set in a modern setting and far different from this novel but both are definitely greatly enjoyable taken individually. The book set quite a few decades ago (when it was written) deals with the enigma known globally as Carlos the jackal. Bourne and Carlos drive this story with each proving their worth without which they could be dead. A race against time across varying locations in differing situations that make you glued to the book you hold closer and closer as plans unfold, dead bodies discovered, news and its targets manipulated and an ever changing landscape for the protagonist with an unknown past and bleak future.
The beginning is the end and the end is the beginning. There is a covert mission for Jason Bourne but unexpected circumstances have made him lose his memory. His mind throws glimpses of images, some words stand out and he has not lost his ability for being a highly talented operative. The man is plagued by these things, not knowing where it comes from and what it means. Only one thing is clear - there are people out to get him, kill him and he needs to solve the puzzle that is his mind. To uncover where he comes from and why he has talents that are so unusual.
The novel is an exploration of not just the man's mind but the unexpected possibilities of covert missions, deception and the dangerous world of terrorism. This book does work as a standalone but of course Ludlum wrote 2 more of Bourne adventures. The thrill of the first ignites a passion to read on. Pick this up and forget the movie version for the time being. Both are great in their uniqueness. There are no cell phones or other gadgetry in this old novel but the novel isn't dated. If anything it proves how effective a trained person can be when dealt with uncertain and life-threatening circumstances. A real masterpiece from Ludlum.