The Bourne Betrayal by Eric Van Lustbader is next up on our 100 Bestsellers List reading challenge. The Bourne Betrayal is Book #5 in the famous Bourne series first written by Robert Ludlum (Books 1-3) and then continued (with approval from the Ludlum estate) by Van Lustbader (Books 4-14). Van Lustbader is also the author of many thriller and fantasy novels outside of the Bourne series.
Since this is book 5 in a series, there is some back story the author assumes the reader already knows. If you’ve seen the movies, you have most of that back story. I was a bit aggravated, though, that I had not read Book 4 in the series, which adds some to Bourne’s back story – I really wanted that tiny wee bit of knowledge, knowledge which this book gave clues to, but didn’t elaborate on. Otherwise, though, this book does stand alone (if you’ve seen the movies or read the first three Ludlum books).
This post does contain spoilers.
The Bourne Betrayal* by Eric Van Lustbader
I’m glad bestselling novels come in a variety of genres. Our last book was a fun, sexy romance and here we jumped right into a non-stop action thriller. And thrilling it is! By now almost everyone is familiar with the Jason Bourne character, thanks to the blockbuster movie series. Before the movies, though, there were the Robert Ludlum novels, which I loved – all of his novels, not just the Bourne trilogy. I was unaware that the Bourne series had been continued, though. I guess I stopped looking for them when I heard that Ludlum had passed away. So when I saw that this was a continuation authorized by the Ludlum estate, I was hopeful that The Bourne Betrayal would be worth reading – and it was!
In true thriller form, the chapters are short, the action is intense, the characters hop around the globe, the hero is almost superhuman, and sometimes the lines blur between the good guys and bad guys. While Bourne is chasing the bad guys in Africa and Afghanistan, he gains a useful ally, Soraya, (female, of course) back at the CI in Washington, D.C, a necessity when he is deemed expendable by the Old Man (the head of the CI). I like the introduction of Soraya – I’m sure she makes further appearances in the subsequent Bourne books, possibly even as a future love interest for Bourne and/or head of the CI.
The short chapters keep the reader bouncing between multiple characters, and each chapter reveals just ever so slightly more bits of the twisting and turning plot that the reader is compelled to read “just one more chapter” and then one more, and then one more. I spent a couple of very long nights reading way past my bedtime because I simply could not put the book down.
Many of the characters in The Bourne Betrayal have Arabic names and I always have difficulties keeping straight characters with unfamiliar names, be it Arabic or Russian or any of the other usual bad guys in spy adventure / thriller novels. It’s a personal issue, but I was a good halfway through the book before I was able to keep straight the two sets of terrorist brothers.
There were a couple of times while reading where I almost laughed aloud, because so much happens to Bourne physically that he must be superhuman. There’s no other way to explain how he can just keep going through knife wounds, accidents, attempted strangulations, and explosions. But then again, this is Jason Bourne we’re talking about. His superior training and past experiences – many of which he cannot remember – all make him into the ultimate secret agent, the one guy you need to save the world!
The Continuing Bourne Series
I can’t say that Van Lustbader’s writing is as exceptional as I remember Robert Ludlum’s writing. It’s been far too long since I’ve read any Ludlum novels to be able to make an accurate comparison. But I did enjoy The Bourne Betrayal and feet that Eric Van Lustbader carries on the intensity and plot twists that were key to the original Bourne trilogy. I’ve already acquired Book 4, The Bourne Legacy, and queued up Book 6, The Bourne Sanction, to read, if that tells you anything. If you like non-stop action, exotic locations, and a puzzle to solve, then you’ll enjoy reading The Bourne Betrayal.
- Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
- Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
- Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective
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What are we reading next?
If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.
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.
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