It’s time to take a look at The Bourne Betrayal by Eric Van Lustbader from a writer’s perspective.
This post may contain spoilers.
The Bourne Betrayal* by Eric Van Lustbader
Jason Bourne is a spy who has lost his memory. Now he fights to stay alive while he figures out his real identity and pieces together his past.
Robert Ludlum wrote the first three novels in the Jason Bourne series: The Bourne Identity (1980), The Bourne Supremacy (1986), and The Bourne Ultimatum (1990). After Ludlum passed away, Eric Van Lustbader continued the series, starting with The Bourne Legacy (2004). The Bourne Betrayal is the second novel written by Van Lustbader. The novels have also been made into a popular movie series starring Matt Damon.
Summary: In this novel Jason Bourne goes to rescue his friend, a CI deputy director, who has been kidnapped. The chase takes him to Africa where he discovers he might be a pawn in a plot to destroy America.
Van Lustbader’s novel is the epitome of a thriller. The pacing is incredibly fast. The action starts strong and just keeps coming. Plus there’s plenty of twists and turns as nothing is what is seems and nobody is who he or she appears to be.
As a thriller we learn about the antagonists early in the book. Now the mystery is whether Jason Bourne will be able to defeat them.
Jason Bourne is the quintessential thriller main character. He has a mostly flat character arc. Instead of the world changing him, he’s out there changing the world with his daring rescues and superior cunning.
In addition, there’s an extensive cast of supporting characters. Some of the characters are part of Bourne’s back story, such as his wife Marie and his mentor Alex Conklin, who have both died. In fact, it seems like anyone who gets close to Bourne ends up dead.
Jason Bourne’s friend Martin Lindros serves as the impact character. His disappearance while out “in the field” sets the events of the story into motion.
Most of the characters are clear cut, but a few have incredibly similar names, which is confusing for the reader. When Martin Lindros goes missing, Matthew Lerner steps into his position as deputy director. Jason’s wife was Marie, and Martin’s girlfriend is Moira. The bad guy is Fadi, but Bourne gets help from Feyd. It is a kindness to readers to vary the length and letters in names so the brain can discern them based on only a glance.
In this novel the characters often speak in acronyms, which adds a bit of realism because that’s what people in the intelligence field do. The organization Lindros works for is CI, or Central Intelligence. As deputy director he is DDCI. His boss is the DCI (director of Central Intelligence). Another character is an AIC (agent in charge). They are chasing the purchase of TSGs (triggered spark gaps).
“Of freelancers, former NSA operatives now in the private sector.” The DCI shook his head. “That idea is DOA…”
You get the idea.
Extensive use of acronyms can be difficult to carry out. The author must not assume the acronyms are well known, so must define them or give the full name at their first usage. Even then, readers may be jettisoned from the story when an acronym is used later on and they’ve forgotten what it means.
The first question we have is why might the computer algorithm have picked this particular book out of all of the series. Although Bourne is mourning his wife and looking for his friend, I don’t think human closeness is really a central theme here. One factor it does have in common with the other novels we’ve read so far is the up and down beats and the fact it is narrated by multiple characters. Perhaps those factors override some of the others.
Eric Van Lustbader has taken on the difficult task of continuing the Jason Bourne series. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to satisfy the expectations of super fans of the original trilogy by staying within the boundaries set by Robert Ludlum, yet move the story along with your own vision. In The Bourne Betrayal Van Lustbader has done a good job with both.
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The next book is number 70. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (2007) – Discussion begins December 26, 2017. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008.