When I saw this book in the bookstore, it had me intrigued. I like a good thriller, but the thought of this one being co-written by a well-known author, (whose work I had never yet read) and an ex-president meant that I just had to read it. Added to this, with the current political climate of the U.S., I wondered how much the novel may reflect the goings on of the present.
I must say that, although it is a novel, much of the circumstances covered, except the actual demeanour of this president, President Duncan, appear to be based almost completely on fact, and scarily, situations which seem completely believable.
It isn't until a third of the way through the book that the president is actually missing. In the lead up, Patterson and Clinton set up the background as to why this has occurred. Of course, the fact that Clinton has been at the helm in the White House means that all of the information about the inner workings of the White House, including the use of Secret service personnel, the lockdown procedures for vice-presidents in the case of the president being unable to function, and the underground
bat cave are all openly used in the book. This in itself is an eye opener.
The book revolves around a plot against the US. It is not a military plot, but in this day and age, a threat which could come from one of a number of sources. Is it the Russians, China, North Korea or somewhere else? Again, any of these could be totally believable, and the kind of threat is one which could not be worse. A threat which could potentially end life as we know it. As I read on, having completed the book in two days, it occurred to me that it was almost a Mission Impossible novel. It certainly had all the makings of it – racing against the clock to beat an immense threat that could destroy the world. I could even almost see Tom Cruise there, assisting the President to try and stop the imminent attack. Yet all of this novel could occur for real, in the U.S., today or in the near future.
Espionage, betrayal and treason rear their ugly heads also. There is talk of impeachment. There is talk of rigged elections by other nations. Beginning to sound familiar? So much of the novel is based on what is truly being talked about in the U.S. and around the world at the moment.
According to my way of thinking, though, President Duncan is a very different character to the current U.S. president. Duncan is selfless, caring and compassionate, and has a clear view about the things which are important to advance his nation.
Perhaps it is because on our travels to the U.S. we still keep in touch with families we know there, but this book certainly portrays a Democrat way of thinking, rather than that of the current Republican president. I suppose being co-written by a Democrat, that was inevitable.
I found the ending, in particular, refreshing. It’s Clinton’s vision as an ex-president about what changes are needed in America. So, the book is political, to that extent and certainly shows its political biases. Readers will either agree or disagree according to their political alignment. Those opposed to Trump will see Clinton’s thinly veiled voice in the narrative as a hopeful sign that things could change for America and that it will again find its way. Like Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, this is an ex-politician using his position to say what he thinks needs to be done.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel, and will probably now seek out some others by James Patterson. It is well written, detailing facts only a president could know, and delivered in a gripping, page turning style. I would thoroughly recommend it! I can see this being another book easily made into a Hollywood film in the near future, although, like Black Klansman, which has only just started its run in Australian cinemas, I'm not sure it's a book that some Americans are quite ready for yet.