Series: Evan Smoak 2
My version: Hardback
Penguin Random House
He was once called Orphan X.
As a boy, Evan Smoak was taken from a children’s home, raised and trained as a part of a secret government initiative buried so deep that virtually no one knows it exists. But he broke with the programme, choosing instead to go off-grid and use his formidable skill-set to help those unable to protect themselves.
One day though, Evan’s luck runs out.
Ambushed, drugged and spirited away, Evan wakes up in a locked room with no idea where he is or who has captured him. As he tries to piece together what’s happened, testing his gilded prison and its highly-trained guards for weaknesses, he receives a desperate call for help.
With time running out, he will need to out-think, out manoeuvre and out-fight an opponent the likes of whom he has never encountered if he’s to have any chance to protect those whose lives depend on him. Or die trying…
You gotta go into this with your eyes open. Of course, this ‘secret government initiative’ is vague enough a premise to play into the American insecurity about what their own govt is ‘really‘ up to. And the Middle East’s insecurity and/or certainty that the CIA are both the capability to be and are, behind everything (that they don’t like or think shouldn’t happen). It’s crept into Europe as well, this feeling that the CIA are all-powerful, the whole ‘deep state’ crap, the conspiracy theorists, giving credibility to every ‘oh the sky is falling!’ crock of shit there is. Let’s face facts, a minor administrator managed to steal just about everything the US govt/various agencies had on everyone – and escape to Russia. Another later changed into a woman. 11 September happened while George W. Bush was leader of the govt. These are among the people you suspect are ‘keeping a lid on things’? Yeah, right…
The ‘secret government initiative’ is also vague enough for anything Gregg Hurwitz dreams up to happen with the books. Like the fact that our universe is so large, infinite in fact, that anything you can imagine happening, as long as it follows the laws of physics, does. Somewhere.
“That just wouldn’t happen!” “Secret Government Initiative.” “Ahh…”
So, once that’s established, is it any good? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Very. Not just a repeat of number one (in fact it isn’t, not really), it doesn’t quite go down the TV series-type version that they would make. Where each story is contained within each episode, and the next one starts with a repeat of how the character gets his assignment/book its plot. It’s still about settling the character in to the series – there is a number three out soon, and I can’t for one moment think there are not more, even open-ended, contracted for. It’s about learning more about what makes Evan Smoak tick, and us seeing if that works, if we like him, or not. He learns more about his background about why he is how he is and there’s a pulverising shock in store. Amongst other things. I did think “here we go again…” when he was confined by
Blofeld the guy, but Gregg Hurwitz writes his way out of it very well indeed.
If you liked Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne (both know very little about their past, or we know very little about them until the series starts) and Taken (“I will find you, and I will kill you”), but with a modern, sleek, intriguing edge, then this is for you. It’s most certainly for me.
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