Chapter by Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
Last time we were introduced to the unfolding problem of setting up a terror bombing in South Korea and the concept of Op-Center. Or rather, that Op-Center exists and has a director. Within the story itself we still don’t know what Op-Center is outside of a relatively new global watch group from the US Government. We met some of the important characters in Seoul that we need to know and I was already sure of at least one of the subplots this story may give us. So it’s time to head into the next four chapters. And here’s your chapter/page count for this part of the book.
- Chapter 5: Tuesday, 6:01 PM, Seoul: four pages
- Chapter 6: Tuesday, 4:04 AM, The White House: two pages
- Chapter 7: Thursday, 6:05 PM, Seoul: ONE LOUSY PAGE! Seriously, author, are you that obsessed with this timestamp routine that you had to put this on one page? Not even a full page. We’re talking THREE PARAGRAPHS! The chapter system in this book is just odd and I have a feeling this will continue into the other Tom Clancy Universe novels I’ll be looking into in the future.
- Chapter 8: Tuesday, 4:08 AM, Chevy Chase, Maryland: five pages
- GRAND TOTAL: 12 pages!
It takes eight chapters to get close to a normal chapter, and that’s with Chapter 7 being the shortest chapter I think I’ve ever had in this series. In comparison, The Black Stallion’s Ghost and The First Phase Shifters And The Omega Capsule, both young or young adult books where I had to combine chapters or at least consider it more than once in those reviews, never had a chapter as short as this political thriller for grown-ups. I don’t think somebody understands how chapters work. I know the greatest reward is to create a book the reader doesn’t want to put down, but now you’re just making it difficult. Anyway, on with the review.
So much for the separated couple gag. Soonji shows up as we meet another character, Pak Duk, who is against any kind of unification between North and South Korea. If this plays into the story I hope we get a good reason why. Donald, however, thinks they have a lot to offer if they do unify. Maybe, but given what I’ve heard of North Kora I’m kind of on Pak’s side until they change a lot of how they do things, and given that the guy in charge of the North may be worse than his father, who was leader at the time, I kind of doubt it. Yeah, I’m just realizing that a book like this can’t really be reviewed without going into world politics. I apologize for not catching that earlier or for whatever happens next but I’m kind of committed to seeing the book through. I’ll try to focus on the story itself as much as possible. But unlike Marvel Comics right now I’m willing to acknowledge that and my own political biases while trying to understand the people I disagree with.
And yet we do get a chapter break when it shifts to Kim. One of the audio guys goes to check the truck when the mics don’t work and ends up setting off the bomb. At this point I don’t know if that was intentional or if Eyepatch and friends didn’t think about a final sound check. There are people coming in for the speech but I don’t know if this is the crowd they wanted. We do learn that Kim was also in love with Soonji but because she was his assistant and he was a government employee romance is frowned upon because it could be a good tool by a spy. That is good thinking.
I am wondering about the timing in this book though. When President Michael Lawrence (props for not using a real President) gets the phone call about the explosion at 4:04 AM Washington time (presumably) he’s told the explosion happened seven minutes ago. Then cut back to Eyepatch and pals making their getaway at 6:05 PM Seoul time. The explosion happened at least at 6:01 PM Seoul time. Even considering time zone differences my math isn’t adding up. Granted I was never very good at math. It’s 4:08 am Maryland time when Paul is playing Mortal Kombat with his son while the boy goes through his nebulizer medication for his breathing and he gets a call from Op-Center about the bombing. As he leaves for the Center he calls Mike, who already saw it on CNN. Either he’s a slow dresser or news really does travel fast.
Also, anyone who knows the Sega Genesis version of Mortal Kombat, do you have to put in the code “ABACABB” on the Code Of Honor screen to turn on the gory stuff and tear your opponent’s heart out? It’s not my kind of game and I never had a Genesis. That’s the kind of brand name dropping in this chapter. We’re also told Paul puts on Thom McCann shoes when getting dressed and that he drives a Volvo, plus the aforementioned CNN reference. (When the book came out I believe CNN was still the only 24-hour news channel unless you count C-SPAN.) I’m just wondering how accurate the code thing really is.
So are Donald and Soonji okay? Did they screw up the bombing or did it go off as planned? And what the heck IS Op-Center? Hopefully next time the next four chapters will answer that question. And make better use of the timestamp gimmick.