I am Pilgrim

I am Pilgrim

I am Pilgrim – Terry Hayes (2013)

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Read me if…

  • You’re looking for your next gripping beach read
  • You enjoy multiple subplots coming together or a grand finale
  • Don’t mind some gruesome description here and there (it’s worth pushing through!)

‘…If you take the final betrayal out of it,’ he said, ‘he was a fine agent – one of the best.’

I stared at him. ‘That’s one way of putting it,’ I replied. ‘If you take the bomb out of it, 6 August was probably a nice day in Hiroshima.’

— Terry Hayes, I am Pilgrim

I’m not normally one for dark action thrillers (and this one is pretty gruesome) but I honestly could not put I am Pilgrim down. It’s also the first novel Dan has ever really enjoyed and recommended to others,  and I can see why. It’s a page turner with twists and reveals every step of the way.

Following an American known only as “Pilgrim”, working for a top secret government organisation, the story is a battle of wit and strength against a Jihadi terrorist known as “the Arab”. The plotline jolts and propels you through their race against the doomsday clock. With subplots and flashbacks throughout, it’s 700 pages of gripping action.

Of course there has to be a few American spy cliches thrown in there for good measure. “Pilgrim” is almost too perfect, like a hero in a Hollywood film. Someone who can save the day right at the last minute. The author Terry Hayes has a background in screenwriting so that perhaps reflects itself in the protagonist.

It works though, you’re not turned off by his 007 line delivery or references to previous escapades that would rival the likes of Mission Impossible. You can’t help but feel compelled to love the hero and hate the bad guy (even with his tragic past). I’ll admit there was empathy towards the villain at the beginning – there always has to be a horrifying reason someone turns evil. This quickly extinguished into horror and the two don’t actually meet until the very end (at which point your nerves are shot and it’s three o’clock in the morning).

There are some sickening descriptions and Hayes doesn’t leave much up to the imagination. If you’re quick to feel queasy maybe give this one a miss! Saying that it all adds to the tension and thrill. It will take hold and won’t let you go until the final pages.

This is a great beach read, one of the absolute best books to take poolside and not move for hours. Line up those cocktails because you won’t want to move for anyone. Let us know what you thought!

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