Thursday, March 14, 2019

The President is Missing

As absorbed as I can be by politics, political thrillers don't thrill me. I've read enough James Patterson to know that his style is not my style. But... when I thought The President is Missing was going to be our April community book club title and it was available in the library, I picked it up to read. It's now our May selection, I probably won't be able to make it to the meeting, but I'd started the book so I finished the book.

It's hard for me to review a book in a genre that I don't like because lots of what I think is colored by the fact that I'm already predisposed to not like it. It took me more than half the book to get into the story and then I finished the second half of the book in a couple of days. Because I wanted to be finished. And I wanted to see how this duo of thriller writer and former president wrapped things up.

The novel takes place over a few short days. After a cyber-terror threat to the USA, the president goes underground with the hacker who worked on the virus to avoid the internet - and everything associated with it (is in everything - food supply, power grid, water supply, commerce, life insurance, everything) going down.

There's a lot of political talk, second thinking presidential decisions. There is one flashback to when the president met his wife. That added a bit of personal touch to the novel. I think a little bit more of that was needed. Lots of the action takes place in a communications room where techno-geeks from all over the world try to crack the code of the virus in order to destroy it. A mystery is that there is at least one treasonous party in the president's inner circle. But who is it?

I had a few general problems with the novel.

  • There really was no character development. The characters (good guys, bad guys, in between) were introduced but we never really got to know what makes them tick. There's a lot of "tell" but not a whole lot of "show" when it comes to characters. 
  • No one really seemed to care that the president was "missing." Was he missing? We knew exactly where he was. And even though the vice president didn't know where he was, she was in communication with him.
  • The conclusion of the book reads like a campaign speech.
If I was going to be at the book club discussion, I'd have the following questions:
  • When was this book written? Culturally, how current is it supposed to be?
  • Is this Clinton's way of rewriting some of his own history?
  • Was there a political motivation behind the writing of the book?
  • Did readers find it politically motivated, no matter what the intention of the authors was.
I'm much more curious about the authors' purpose, the authors' styles than about discussing the particulars of the novel.

I am hard pressed to say whether or not I'd recommend this, because again, it's just not my type of story.