I read my first Ton Clancy adventure while sitting on a beach and sitting by a pool. It was “The Hunt for Red October.” I have since read all of his books and the vast majority of them, for some reason, I have read during the summer months. I believe that Tom Clancy is some of the best vacation reading out there. It made sense then that with the release of Clancy’s latest “Against All Enemies” and the fact that it is summer, and that I had a few weeks of vacation that I would pick it up for a read. I did!
The first thing I noticed was the size, and then the additional author. The book is not “Rainbow Six” sized (the best really long book by Clancy,) nor is it “Net Force” sized. Its somewhere in the middle. On to the additional author I’ll be honest I read authors because I like their style. The way they build content into a story and the subtle ways they weave characters into situations. Tom Clancy is a master at using real concepts (and sometimes incredibly detailed technical content) and tying them to a storyline and the characters within the story. Not everyone can do this well. The Net Force novels are a good example of this problem. If I handed you one and didn’t tell you who wrote it dollars to doughnuts says you wouldn’t pick Clancy. The Net Force books read more like John Grisham partnering with maybe W.E.B Griffin. Please don’t misinterpret what I am saying. I love the Net Force series! The problem with them is that I don’t lie awake at night pondering them like I do a Tom Clancy solo authored project. They just don’t have the same depth. I had reservations before I started reading. I must admit that I chose not to look up Mr. Telep, and frankly to this day have no idea what else he has written.
The title peaked my interest. Against all enemies foreign and domestic……. I thought possibly we might get a presidential intrigue story. Maybe something antiterrorism. Maybe an FBI or CIA or NSA story. No such luck. This is a modified seal story with Clear and Present Danger thrown in for good measure. I am still totally clueless as to why they chose this title other than the fact that terrorists and drug lords are enemies of the State. Sort of shallow tie.
The story reads very well. The content is interesting and the characters are pretty good. True to a multi authored book, I felt it lacked the technical details that would keep me up at night pondering the possibilities. There were a few spots where I really felt like I was learning something but for the most part it was all about the action. That’s not a bad thing in a summer beach book. The central character (a Seal) has some demons that we learn about throughout the course of the book, but they were the kind of demons that only served to add drama to the story and not value to the character.
The Good: This book has a great story. It moves fast! The characters are interesting and there are a few good twists in the plot.
The Bad: It just felt like the Wizard of Oz to me. Drug Cartels, and Terrorists, and Airplanes! Oh My! I am not a fan of profanity for its own sake. I understand the occasionally placed four letter word, but the authors took it over the top in this book. I didn’t count but I am fairly certain this is the most prolific language usage in any of Tom Clancy’s books. The sad thing is that the language does absolutely nothing for the book.
The Ugly: Perhaps I am being too hard on this book. It really is pretty good but it just pales in comparison to some of Tom Clancy’s other works. In “The Hunt for Red October” a silent nuclear submarine sets a beautiful backdrop for a fantastic book. That story oozes drama from start to finish. In Rainbow Six the counterterrorism incidents were so real I literally had to think twice before taking my kids to Disneyland. It oozed drama. Against All Enemies felt like the authors started with scoping out some drama and then tried to build a story. It’s just not nearly as good when you start with the drama and then try to find the story.
My Recommendation: If you’re a Clancy fan, (and even if your not) the book is a good read. 3 stars out of 5. Definitely not for kids (sorry kids, maybe next time.)
Enjoy your summer and keep your fingers crossed for next summers Tom Clancy release.