I Am Pilgrim
by Terry Hayes
Published: 5/27/14 by Atria
4 out of 5 stars
I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes is a spy thriller about a super secret government agent who is trying to stop a terrorist from releasing a deadly virus in America. It's a wild and crazy ride as the agent, who goes by the alias Pilgrim, meets his intellectual match in the Muslim terrorist nicknamed the Saracen. It seems like the Saracen is always able to stay one step ahead of Pilgrim, and it is such a fun ride to follow them both around the world. I really enjoyed this story, and it kept me turning pages (all 600+ pages!) until the very last page. The idea of a virus being released in our country is also a bit terrifying, which added to the suspense and intrigue of the story. I don't read a lot in this thriller genre, so I'm probably not the best judge as to how this novel holds up next to other thrillers. But, as a stand alone novel, this was a great read, and one that I will recommend to others!
I did have a few minor issues with the novel, which kept me from giving it a full five star rating. This is definitely not the next greatest piece of literary fiction, but I don't think it is really trying to be that. The writing was far from perfect. I had to be willing to accept some big coincidences, one in particular that served to set up a big part of the plot and left me questioning how this could ever be possible. But I was willing to just go with it for the sake of an entertaining story.
Also, Hayes was very fond of having the narrator withhold information from the reader in order to create a sense of suspense. Pilgrim would say something like--I found something, and it changed everything. But he did not say what the something was until later. Obviously that kept me turning pages to find out what he found, but I have always felt like this type of plot device is a bit cheap. Hayes used it A LOT. Every chapter also had some sort of sentence at the end that would foreshadow what sort of gloom and doom was to come next. Again, this got annoying after a while and did not seem necessary.
However, regardless of these shortcomings, I thought this was a good story and definitely one that is worth reading. The opening chapter is grim and graphic and overly sexual, and I was afraid that the whole book would follow in this suit. While it has its dark moments, the overall story was tamer than what I was expecting. The final showdown between the Pilgrim and the Saracen is just great, an epic conclusion to an epic story.