There’s a new book out, “Weaponized“, by Nicholas Mennuti and David Guggenheim. The reviews are what you should be reading. I’ll come to them in a minute. First, the book.
The plot (no spoilers, just the outline):
Kyle West worked for a government contractor, and when things went horribly wrong, his boss ended up testifying before Congress, and West had to go into hiding in Cambodia. Now Julian Robinson needs to sneak into Africa to finalize a deal, and after he realizes how similar he looks to West, the pair agree to switch passports. When West says yes, all hell begins, with Russians, Chinese, the CIA, and a contract killer on his tail. Getting out of Cambodia free seemed too good to be true, and, alas, it was, as West is plunged into a vast conspiracy that makes why he was hiding in the first place pale in comparison.
So, a Cambodian setting, which is why I’m reviewing it. Or I will review it, after I read it. This is a sort of pre-review, based on the buzz it’s generating.
Now comes the fun part.
The plot outline above is from the Booklist review. It goes on:
Unfortunately, the tantalizing premise proves difficult to swallow, mainly because West is a bumbling, ineffectual hero who relies on others to get by. The villain is not only stronger but also more interesting. The ambiguous ending doesn’t help, either. Nice premise, some suspense along the way, but overall a not particularly compelling take on the man-wrongly-accused theme. Coauthor Guggenheim wrote the script for the hit film Safe House.
So Booklist is less than impressed.
Our own Andy Brouwer seems a little reserved too: Phnom Penh, whose “shanties seem to wilt in the heat and lean on one another for support, a series of dislocated shoulders,” comes across as today’s go-to city for Western ne’er-do-wells who long to get lost in the crowd.
But wait, others are far less jaundiced:
“[An] excellent first novel . . . The authors have their fingers on the pulse of contemporary life . . . The rare suspense novel that will genuinely surprise jaded genre readers.”
(Publishers Weekly (starred))
“Applying postmodern polish to the foreign intrigue of Graham Greene and Eric Ambler, [it] leaves an imprint with its lively cast of characters, pungent locale and dizzy plotting.” (Kirkus Reviews)
But the nagativitites strike back. Here’s reviewer ScamBuster in Amazon reviews:
Hollywood is currently tripping over itself to monetize Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. Weaponized reads like a second draft screenplay. Clearly it was written with the sole intent of turning it into a feature film franchise. (It was more than a little ham-handed to name the main plot twisting character Julian, pffft.) Actually, since this book was co-written by the screenwriter of the #1 film “Safe House”, I wouldn’t be surprised if the screenplay was written first and this novel adapted from it.
My advice is to wait for the movie(s).
Ouch! (That review was headed: “Weaponized? Should have been called Monetized!”)
Let’s be fair. There are 11 Amazon reviews, 8 are five-star, only 2 are 2 or 1 star. It’s just that negative reviewers tend to be so much funnier.