Book review: I am pilgrim

“I Am Pilgrim” by Terry Hayes is a book that can stir up quite the debate. The recommendation for this read came second-hand from a boss, and it carries with it the weight of expectation. It’s a hefty volume, spanning over 600 pages, and right off the bat, it asks for a commitment.

The book starts off slow, which might test the patience of even the most dedicated readers. With a lot of details that might seem unnecessary at first, those initial pages may feel like a bit of a trudge, especially if spy novels aren’t your cup of tea. But if you stick with it, the story starts to grip you, pulling you into a world of tension and intrigue that is hard to escape.

As the plot of “I Am Pilgrim” unfolds, it’s important to suspend disbelief. There are moments when the leaps in the storyline might challenge your sense of what’s believable, particularly the methods the protagonist uses to track his nemesis, Saracen. These elements require you to just roll with it and accept the story as it is presented, which can be a big ask for some.

The narrative is very much a product of its genre, with a clear-cut America versus Islam undertone that feels a bit tired. The reliance on 9/11 as a plot device feels like well-trodden ground and not particularly creative. Additionally, the broad strokes used to paint the Middle East and Islamic culture could be seen as oversimplified and could be off-putting for those looking for a more nuanced portrayal.

The protagonist, known as Pilgrim, is something of an enigma. However, this isn’t necessarily a good thing. He feels a bit hollow, and his backstory—including a convenient inheritance that sets him up for life—doesn’t do much to flesh him out. This lack of depth means that Pilgrim sometimes feels more like a plot device than a fully realized character.

Comparisons with “The Da Vinci Code” are inevitable. Both books share a knack for keeping readers hooked despite plots that stretch credibility and protagonists who aren’t particularly well developed. There’s a style to Hayes’ writing that propels you forward, urging you to find out what happens next, even as you’re aware that the story is far from plausible.

In the end, “I Am Pilgrim” is a book that will keep you turning the pages, eager to see how the story ends. It’s not without its faults, and those looking for a deep, character-driven narrative might want to look elsewhere. But for those who can overlook its more outlandish elements, there’s enjoyment to be had in the suspense and global chase that Hayes so vividly describes.

For its ability to entertain and keep readers engaged, “I Am Pilgrim” scores a 3.5 out of 5.

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