My rating: 2 of 5 stars
One Shot (2005) by Lee Child (real name: James D. “Jim” Grant) is certainly a prime example of “Airplane Fiction”, which is in no way a negative against Lee Child, a British author who has grown very rich and successful with over 17 Jack Reacher novels.
Airplane Fiction can be defined as fiction containing rather simple plot narratives (hero, ex-military, vs bad guys, usually Russian–and in this case it is; and don’t forget the female lawyers, which there is), sentences containing mostly fragments and simple structures (forget about complex sentences or vocabulary above the fifth grade–but hey, maybe that’s what you prefer- some do), chapters with 15-20 scene breaks (allowing for optimal chances during a flight or travel to slip in that bookmark), and absent themes of major life and death issues (the reader doesn’t want to contemplate the spirit world at 35,000 feet).
Airplane Fiction is simply another genre, and one that Lee Child has mastered. I bought this book at Chicago O’Hare and for two reasons: 1) Tom Cruise and the new movie; 2) to see how these types of novels work. As for the storytelling goes, it is simple and light and fast and does its job in gripping the reader to the pages, and for allowing the reader chances to take breaks, which is very helpful if you are a busy reader.
The story does not leave any lasting impression, nor should it, and is a story for those seeking to escape and not to think of anything deep or serious for a while (much like most of TV). As for the writing itself, it is almost cliched and doesn’t reach down very far; in essence, it is not literary, but rather a fun, entertaining read (there’s nothing wrong with that). I am waiting to see the movie, and think that the movie with Tom Cruise might just be better than the book.
After watching the movie Jack Reacher, featuring Tom Cruise, I must admit that the movie was slightly better than the book (although the former thought better to go with an eponymous title rather than the latter’s One Shot), and the movie was still but a shade of the actual story told in the book.
Tom Cruise certainly brings the role of Jack Reacher to life, but it is clear that the character of Reacher is represented best in the pages of a book rather than on the big screen. Reacher is made out to be the supreme ghost, bad-ass, and has a memory that can recall the serial number off a rifle after only a glance.
On screen the character doesn’t fit naturally with the flawed characters we often see in movies (Tony Stark in Iron Man; Logan in Wolverine; even Jason Bourne in the Bourne saga has his flaws–Reacher seems to have none, and though it works in the book, it doesn’t quite fit on screen).
The movie also left out some of the better parts of the book, especially the ending, which I really enjoyed (what I didn’t like about the book was its slow start and progression through the first 200 pages) and the movie (or should I say, Screenwriter and Director Christopher McQuarrie) changed much of the story found in the book, which makes me think the book and its story doesn’t convert well to the big screen, making me wonder why then it was made into a movie in the first place.
As a Tom Cruise fan (yes, I am), Jack Reacher (from the book One Shot) was not one of his most memorable roles, nor was it in the top twenty. Advice to Cruise: read the Reacher novels; but be careful when making any more Reacher movies.
CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy), and a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU. He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979.
He’s the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Father’s Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), Vanity of Vanities (2011), A Time to Love in Tehran (2015), and forthcoming: Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being; Little Hometown, America: A Look Back; A Time to Forget in East Berlin; and, The Endless Endeavor of Excellence.
You can also follow the author on Facebook @ cg.fewston – where he has 400,000+ followers