All Seeing Eye by Rob Thurman
My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Rob Thurman’s newest thriller leaves me in a bit of a quandary. I love her Leandros Brothers series so much, I’ve never given any of those books less than 5 stars. I loved the two Korsak Brothers books enough to give them each 5 stars, too. I expected to love this book just as much, and to rate it just as highly. But after a day’s reflection, I’m finding I can’t quite do that. If the Leandros & Korsak Brothers books are 5’s, and the Trickster books are 4’s, then in fairness, I have to rate this one a 3.
This book feels like it could be the beginning of a new series, but I mostly hope it’s not. I’d rather get a new installment from Cal & Niko, considering that we have been kind of left in the lurch on that one, and finding out what happens next to the Brothers Leandros is much more pressing, to my mind. Then there are those adorable Korsak Brothers, and the wickedly devilish Trixa in the Trickster series. I honestly think all three of these series are much stronger and have more staying power than Jackson Lee “All Seeing” Eye.
Okay, the thing I liked a lot about this book? Thurman’s writing. It’s always strong, descriptive, and simultaneously horrifying and funny. I found myself being very aware of some really excellent phrasing, though I’m not sure if it’s a good thing to be thinking about phrasing when in the middle of a thriller that ought to be so gripping that my mind couldn’t possibly go wandering. But she really does have a way with words, and I noticed it more this time than usual, for whatever reason.
Things I liked moderately well? Jackson, though I definitely felt he was a pale copy of Cal Leandros, only so much less. He’s funny, but not as funny. He’s tough, but not as tough. He’s decent deep down inside, but not as decent. He’s just a lesser version of Cal, all the way around, to me. I did enjoy his “gift” of being a genuine touch psychic. It lead to interesting opportunities for revealing the innermost thoughts and desires of other characters. Sadly, some of the other characters were a bit on the dull side, and nothing much of interest was going on inside their heads. And then there were others who were truly disturbing. Question. How many sociopaths does it take to run a misguided government experiment? Don’t answer that. I’m just being facetious. But if you DID want to answer, the correct response would be “Too many.” You probably wouldn’t find that many deranged psychos gathered under one roof at your local mental institution.
As for the plot, it was the strongest when it dealt with Jackson’s past, and the torment he went through growing up. It got weaker when it delved into the Big Secret Project being carried out behind walls topped with razor-wire. And weaker still in explaining the motives behind the sabotage, and the behaviors of the guilty parties. The relationship between Jackson and Hector was fun, but Hector wasn’t fleshed out nearly enough to suit me. And as for those evil masters of sabotage, I have to say I had them figured out way, way ahead of Jackson. And I’m not even psychic.
What did I like least? The ending. I thought it was the weakest point in the entire book. It almost felt like a tacked on afterthought, dreamed up at the last minute. And it didn’t ring true to me, on any level. After all the things Jackson has done in his life, or that have been done TO him, I simply could not imagine him letting the worst wrong of all go unavenged. It didn’t make sense. Nor did the way he blithely blew off finding out that his whole world has been structured around a colossal mistake of terrible proportions. I get that we are supposed to see that he has matured and become a better man, completely in control of his actions. Maybe that’s a good thing. But it certainly wasn’t a SATISFYING thing. And after nearly two decades of carrying around a truckload of guilt for a justifiable action, he now shrugs off this new and more terrible burden without a backward glance? Doesn’t work for me. Add in an almost too sweet gimmick at the last moment, and it just all falls apart. I sure can’t picture Cal Leandros handling the situation the way Jackson did. Yeah, I know Jackson isn’t Cal. And that, folks, is my biggest problem with the whole book.
To sum it up, for me All Seeing Eye is a real mixed bag of contrasts. The good parts saved it from being really bad, and the bad parts kept it from being really good. Possibly if it had been anyone other than Rob Thurman, I would have been less picky. I’ve just come to expect more from her, and while “All Seeing Eye” delivered some of the goods, other parcels were lost in the mail.
As usual, I’d be interested in hearing your take.
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