I found this review in my draft folder and since it is already all written out it seems a shame not to post it!
This was a beast of a novel not only physically but also mentally. I am completely drained after reading this one! Don’t get me wrong, it was good, almost amazing; the amount of detail gives it a ‘wow’ factor but there is so much to take in. It’s a good job Terry Hayes is a good storyteller – he made sure even when he was jumping around the timeline that you had all the information you needed – you never felt completely adrift in a sea of nonsensical words which to be honest is impressive given how much detail the narrative needs.
The paperback copy of the book I read weighed in at 888 pages and I felt every.single.one. This is not a book to skim or speed-read, this book deserves your attention and if that wavers, trust me you will miss something. If I break it down I know those first 200 pages are the hardest, you just want to get into a story but I Am Pilgrim keeps you waiting, it needs you to know the story right from the very beginning. The next 200 pages are building, you’re intrigued. You now have a solid background for the two main characters and you’re wondering how it is they come together. You’re now halfway through and you just need to know everything, the last 400 pages fly by in a blur, you’ve read them before you know it and then it’s over, you are left feeling complete, satiated.
If I had to compare this book to any other I would struggle, to me it is in its own category however I definitely got a Dan Brown feel while I devoured it (old Dan Brown, Digital Fortress style) only more grown up I would say. Dan Brown’s older brother! The characters are real and gritty, their actions have awful consequences and you get to picture their indecisions and apprehensions before they make those actions. This really makes the novel, it leaves a lasting impression – you’ve spent a lot of time with these characters and by the time the novel closes, you’re ready to say goodbye, because you know the story is complete and you haven’t been fobbed off with a quick exit.
Seriously, I cannot stress enough how immersive this text is. The first 200 pages were overwhelming they were so detailed in telling this backstory which you weren’t sure you really needed to know – but you do. Every miniscule detail gives you an insight into the mind of an operative and into the actions of a terrorist, I often stopped to try and imagine where Hayes gets his inspiration from, it is like he has lived it. Like I said, impressive. However, it is easy for me to say to you to persevere through those first 200 pages, I have the hindsight and know that it is worth it and this is the reason I can’t give this book 5 stars. For me, it was a slow starter and I know others would give up but I was recommended this book so I pushed through and found it was worth it!
I will definitely recommend this book to everyone.