I didn't enjoy this book. It was an effort to finish it. Although quite detailed, the story was a bore. The narrator was easy to understand, but it just wasn't that interesting.
The reader was so monotonous that I kept finding myself "returning" from a long reverie elsewhere. Also I didn't "love" the characters as I did say in Cardinal of the Kremlin .. everyone was "there" but either I've changed or they have because I could take them or leave them.
Driving over 100,000 mile a year since 1983, I got hooked on audible books on tape 30 years back. I now listen from my bicycle 2 hours a day
Clancy's politics pretty much destroy an entertaining terrorist killing story. He types his non-right wing characters as if he had a High School educated T Party member mentality. In the post 9/11 world it would be very difficult to find anyone who would not applaud the deaths of some Afghan Taliban Al-Queda nut jobs in cave. Much less a President who would prosecute some soldiers for eliminating them in their sleep. Simply beyond belief and so very silly. I doubt you could find anyone in Washington now who isn't fulling in support of eradicating every one of those murderous nut jobs.
For Clancy it seems if you have a care about the environment and decry the thieves on Wall Street you must be against the young mostly minority people who defend the nation and that's really just too stupid to stomach.
Still I enjoyed reading the exploits of the young mostly black men who took out the people responsible for state sponsored terrorism and simply ignored his ignorant and transparent wing nut BS. Clancy could be so much more subtle and accurate and still score some political points but anybody that buys his characterizations is already past any reason or intelligence so what does it matter?
I've read many Tom Clancy novels, my favorite being "The Sum of All Fears". It was intelligent and had compelling characters with their own problems to overcome while unravelling a terrorist plot agains America.
"Dead or Alive" is much the same, but had none of the hallmarks of good storytelling. The characters are uninteresting and do not develop nor learn anything over the course of the novel. As a result I care little about any of them.
Clancy's portrayal of the antagonist, (a would-be Osama bin Laden) is equally flat and overall, the story seems more of a catharsis for Clancy. I felt more like he wanted to purge his anger at Al Qaeda than make the story interesting.
Every obstacle is solved with ease and the overall objective (and outcome) is telegraphed early on in the story. What little research Clancy did in preparing his story is evident as he uses Cold War-esque tactics (and solutions) in our modern Information Age environment. The result makes so many situations in the story simply implausible.
This is a big FAIL for a novelist of much greater ability.
Lou Diamond Philips does an adequate job, but without a good story his performance is hard to judge as great.
I think I've read or listened to everything Tom Clancy has written and am generally a huge fan. But, as I finished this book, I kept thinking - 1. the plots and subplots seem much more disjointed than in a typical Clancy book and didn't seem to naturally come together 2. the technical information common to Clancy's work (which I normally love) was, for the most part, boring 3. even the "action" scenes (shooting, stabbing and blowing things up) are more subdued. Lou Diamond Phillips does a great job so no problem there. Maybe the genre is getting more crowded with good writers so the bar has been raised but I found myself comparing this book to a typical Vince Flynn offering and I think it falls short. Just my two cents - I'll still read the next book Clancy writes.
I understand some people don't like Clancy's style, and this book probably won't change any minds. If you don't like his politics (I do) or you get lost in the details of military equipment (after 24 years in the AF, I still occasionally do), you probably still won't like him. I have read or listened to every major novel he has written from the beginning (Hunt for Red October) and I have always enjoyed them. ---------------------------
This book one has a similar pace and feel to other Clancy books - there are lots of sub-plots and the characters can be difficult to keep straight, although many of the characters are recurring from previous works, which helps. The change of focus from Jack Ryan to his son, Jack Jr., seems to breath a little fresh life into the series by allowing Clancy to develop a new lead character while maintaining continuity with his previous story lines. Jack Jr obviously has many similarities to his father, but the differences are are well-developed and don't seem forced. ---------------------------
Lou Diamond Phillips' performance in the reading was among the best I've heard, which really surprised me, since I was never much of a fan of his movies and had low expectations. His voice has a hint of a whisper to it, which gives the right feel for this story about black ops. The characters were distinct, but not over-done. There were no cringe-inducing female voices, which is good thing. ---------------------------
This isn't my favorite Clancy of all time (that is Cardinal of the Kremlin), but it's in the top half. It's definitely in the classic Calncy mold - iIf you liked his previous works, you will probably like this one as well.
I really enjoyed this book and I was especially pleased to discover the voice of Lou Diamond Philips. I was skeptical going in, but Lou did a smashing job and I would now consider him amongst my top 3 Audible narrators. This book is worth a listen for this reason alone, but I will also add that as a first time Clancy reader, you don't need to know the back story to enjoy this one. Story is contemporary and characters are dimensional. I recommend this one.