Wednesday, September 21, 2022

[Review]—"Blowback" by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois is a Boring Presidential Thriller


Every new James Patterson book claims to be the author's "best thriller in years," although depending on the coauthor, his works seldom rise above average. In case you didn't know, James Patterson doesn't write his co-authored books. According to his memoir, James Patterson by James Patterson, he constructs the plot and characters, creates a detailed outline of 70–80 pages, and then hands it on to his coauthor to write. Blowback, his latest thriller, is co-written with frequent collaborator Brendan DuBois (The Summer House, The First Lady, and so on), and the cover slogan is "An American President Goes Insane." That one sentence alone suggests that the novel's fictional president is probably inspired by the 45th President of the United States. 

The concept of Blowback is simple: freshly elected US President Kegan Barrett orders CIA agents Liam Grey and Noa Himel to organize an undercover task force to eliminate anybody on his "kill list" whom he deems a danger to his presidency. Sounds familiar, right?

I won't go into further specifics regarding the story. To put it simply, this is a dull read. After a few chapters, the storyline soon grew uninteresting, and I skimmed the last remaining pages to finish the book and write my review. There's not a single likable character that can be found in this too lengthy novel. 512 pages? That is going too far. In contrast to Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, and Diana Gabaldon, who can write fascinating, lengthy epics on their own, James Patterson can't write epics of this level, even when working with a co-author. If at least 150 pages of unnecessary dialogue had been cut from Blowback, the novel may have been much better. 

Once more, breaking my golden rule, I read a few reader reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I'm perplexed as to why this book has received four or five stars and sugar-coated reviews. Even if it's not completely terrible, it only deserves two stars at most, and I'm being very generous. Writing is a skill that Brendan DuBois does have, and he makes the most use of it with Mr. Patterson's thinly laced plot. But you need real thrills if you're going to create a suspense novel about a corrupt president, and I couldn't find any in Blowback.╌★★✰✰✰

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