Author: Russell Blake
Published: February, 2014
Characterization and badassery
Jet definitely ticks the boxes here for weapons, fighting, and killer instinct. All the bang-bang definitely takes the driver’s seat, but there’s a wee bit of motivation behind it. Overall, this is a spy/assassin adventure story, so grab your glock and get ready.
Plot and pacing
This cooks along really well until about the 2/3 mark, where it slows for some reason. Prior to that, I felt well-entrenched into the scenes and exotic locales. Ironically, the slowdown occurs amidst a slew of the aforementioned bang-bang scenes. So even though lots of stuff is happening, it just started stretching out into one very long action sequence. Those previously excellently-described locales disappeared, which made me less rooted in the story.
This is great if you’re after something that plays out like an action movie, as it clicks right along. Not as great if you like to really get absorbed into the wrinkles and creases of a written story. This seems to be Blake’s particular style, and will work for some and not others. I like it, as it’s different. It works for me as a change of pace.
Prose and editing
The prose does well, when Blake is taking the time to describe. As noted above, he sometimes chooses action over description. But even when that’s the case, the prose is straightforward and makes itself clear.
The editing is good. No habitual errors or typographical issues. There were times that the head-hopping bothered me, but again, it’s Blake’s style, in the tradition of movies that show what the villain is doing in cut scenes even as the hero is doing, you know, hero stuff. I personally didn’t care about Henchman #3’s background as a setup for him getting shot in the head, because I kept trying to read it as a book and this movie-scene stylistic approach is different than the kind of flow that I look for in a book.
But then I’d remind myself that this is a style thing, and I kind of like that Blake is doing something different. So I dig that the book made me think about what I did and didn’t like, and whether I really didn’t like it. (Follow that?) In other words, I like that this style challenged me, but kept me reading.
Nah. It just doesn’t happen. It’s not really that kind of book.
What we’ve got here is a book in the style of the Salt movie with Angelina Jolie, with some Kill Bill mixed into a couple of backstory places. There’s an Alias sort of scene in there, too. (I miss Alias!) Fast-paced, lots of shoot-em-up. A fun ride.
Russell Blake did a good job of not going sexist with this character, and it would have been super easy to do. For the most part, Jet was just an assassin, and the fact of her being a woman was fairly incidental. Which is exactly how I like my woman heroes. Because how often do books about men assassins explain the guy’s motivation for being a killer with a childhood of sexual abuse? Never, or adjacent to never, I’m guessing. So that one gave me Forest Whitaker eye, as did a rape-her-before-you-kill-her scene that I should mention in the interest of triggers. (Thankfully, that was brief.)
But if I can get by those things, I imagine just about everyone could. In the end, I was glad I read Jet, and appreciate that a fun character like her is being written.