I Am Pilgrim- Terry Hayes

A breakneck race against time…and an implacable enemy.

An anonymous young woman murdered in a run-down hotel, all identifying characteristics dissolved by acid.

A father publicly beheaded in the blistering heat of a Saudi Arabian public square.

A notorious Syrian biotech expert found eyeless in a Damascus junkyard.

Smoldering human remains on a remote mountainside in Afghanistan.

A flawless plot to commit an appalling crime against humanity.

One path links them all, and only one man can make the journey.


My Goodreads rating: 3 stars (2.5 in actuality). Why? Let’s get into it, my lovelies.

This book took me AGES. I’m no stranger to bigger books, and I have flown through books longer than this in a much faster time. So why was it so hard to read? It wasn’t technically different, there was plenty of action, and the characters weren’t completely diabolical. So what gives?

Let’s start with the blurb. The blurb sounds hella cool. It drew me in. The premise of a former special service agent called back into action to bring down a terrifying threat? Yes. Pretty cool. A killer who uses his own book to commit the perfect crime? Yes. Sounds legit. Was the book anything like what it promised? Oh, it tried to be. I can imagine that this book would appeal to certain people, but it didn’t do it for me. I didn’t know it then, but I would realise something very important about this book.

What I hated:

The patriotism. My God, I don’t think this book could have gone further up America’s backside if it tried. (Pardon my language.) I felt like I should have been waving the American flag while simultaneously singing the anthem, all while a huge bald eagle cawed behind me in the fading sunlight. That’s how American this book was. And before you ask, I have NOTHING against America. Nothing at all; I’m not American, and I definitely am not anti-America in  any way. But it’s like this book wanted me to be, while at the same time wanted me to see how great America was. Does that make sense? Every character we met that wasn’t American was very blatantly anti-America. Every American we met was cool, and very clear-headed, and non-corrupt like all those big, bad countries in the East. And don’t get me started on the anti-Middle East vibe going on. Little did I know that what would centre around the plot so evidently.


This is the type of book that would be published straight after 9/11, where many people would jump on the “every Muslim is somehow bad” bandwagon (yes, many people did have this mindset after the tragedy. The treatment of innocent Muslims plummeted to absolute hatred) and this book seems to support that. It felt very America against the Muslim threat, with clear lines drawn between good and evil. Now, I’m not bashing the author for using terrorism as a plot. There’s nothing wrong with using an event (fictional or real, e.g WWII) as a plot for a story. I’m not saying that by attempting to tackle a terrorist threat, this author immediately came off as Islamophobic and it isn’t allowed to be written about. I’m saying that the author did not handle this topic WELL. The book would have been better without the smug protagonist (I’m coming for you, Pilgrim) making little remarks about how awful Muslim culture is. Just look at this following quote, thrown in a completely unnecessary place:

The driver thought I was crazy – but then his religion thinks stoning a woman to death for adultery is reasonable, so I figured we were about even.

Where did this even come from? I get it, Pilgrim doesn’t agree with a lot of Islamic customs. But comments like this, constantly thrown in, just didn’t sit right with me. It made Pilgrim seem like he believed everything Americans did was better. And then, something really got on my nerves.

His character. He was bland, yet “super cool” according to all the action and quick thinking instances shoved down our throats. The author added too much, too quickly. Some chapters were so unnecessary. Some events were not needed at all, and were just added to show how uber amazing Pilgrim is. He sexualised every woman he came into contact with, looked up to every man he met (who WAS NOT Muslim) and generally got on my nerves. And this leads to something that I didn’t expect to bother me at all.

The writing. The writing wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great. The author repeated himself, used lazy action writing, and clearly took classes on ‘suspense 101’. You know how I know? Did you notice how I ended each paragraph in this review? Go back and look. It’s a cheap copy of what Hayes did at the end of every FREAKING CHAPTER. “I didn’t know it then, but I made the biggest mistake of my life.” “Looking back, I wish I hadn’t done the thing that I had done.” “If I had known what would happen next, I wouldn’t have said the thing to that guy.” Seriously, what is with this silly attempt to sound cool? I don’t like it. Make it stop.

And now, for the ending. For anyone who’s read it, you’ll know what I mean when I say THAT’S IT??? I mean, sure, I guess it could work like that, with the threat Pilgrim establishes. But for all the build up of this really anti-American, angry, unstoppable force of pure evil, the way he is gave up is very unrealistic. A very anti-climactic end, really.

The only redeeming thing is that the book was kind of interesting, sometimes. I suppose? I’m really picking at straws here. Cue the bald eagle. *Caw*.

I’m disappointed by how much I disliked this book, because I hoped for something more. If any of you liked it, and disagree with me completely, let me know. Am I the only one?

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