Sunday, January 31, 2021

Review: The Bourne Evolution by Brian Freeman

by Brian Freeman
Release Date: July 28th 2020
2020 G.P. Putnam's Sons
Kindle Edition; 410 Pages
ISBN: 978-0525542599
ASIN: B08273SB5W
Genre: Fiction / Thriller
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

After the death of his wife in a mass shooting, secret agent Jason Bourne is convinced that there is more to her murder than it seems. Worse, he believes that the agency that trained him and made him who he is--Treadstone--is behind the killing. Bourne goes rogue, leaving Treadstone behind and taking on a new mission to infiltrate and expose an anarchist group, Medusa.

But when a congresswoman is assassinated in New York, Bourne is framed for the crime, and he finds himself alone and on the run, hunted by both Treadstone and the tech cabal who had hired him. In his quest to stay one step ahead of his enemies, Bourne teams up with a journalist, Abbey Laurent, to figure out who was behind the frame-up, and to learn as much as he can about the ever-growing threat of the mysterious Medusa group. As more and more enemies begin to hunt Bourne, it's a race against the clock to discover who led him into a trap...and what their next move may be.
My Thoughts
The Bourne Evolution was actually a pretty good addition to the Jason Bourne series and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I have long forgiven the makers for their movie version of The Bourne Identity as the film is actually pretty good, but there was a time I was pretty bitter about the movie as they changed so much and it is nothing like the book.  In time, I learned to appreciate the movie for itself, but it is not the original Bourne, it is the Bourne of the book I just read.  The Bourne of the original trilogy is long gone, I think.

One of the things I really liked about the original books was Bourne's psychological progression as well as his misery trying to figure out whether he was a good guy or a bad guy.  This book sort of continues in that vein, although we now know that Bourne is one of the good guys; however, his continual torment for what he needs to do and how he needs to do it is still there. Doing what he does means he has to sacrifice personal relationships as that puts him in jeopardy and this aspect of the job continues to haunt him as he wants a life that is different, one that is safe for himself and for his loved ones.  I like how the author blends this aspect throughout the book without it becoming an obsessive part of the story.
The plot in this one is very modern compared to the original trilogy as the author brings Bourne into our technological era with themes surrounding tech privacy and manipulation using apps.  It was quite interesting and made me think a little bit about the potential for this type of infiltration in our modern world and the idea was pretty scary.  You continue to have the shadowy government conspiracies coupled with Russian spying merged with ground-breaking technology all mixed together with betrayals and possibly treason.  I didn't really buy into all of it, but it was fun nevertheless and I enjoyed the ride.  I could have done without Miss Shirley though; not sure why authors tend to feel like these female characters add anything important to the story.  Why can't a female character be strong, and just plain evil, without being the way she was? Just read the story, and you will see what I mean.  I think her character was supposed to incite fear in men, but I thought she was just silly and god-awful.
The plot moves rather quickly once it gets going, but I like how the author doesn't just focus on the action, but also the little things that make us interested in the characters; Ludlum did that as well and I appreciated that.  I also like that the book does not follow previous books in the series, but seems to be a complete reboot with original ideas and some original characters.  For those who have never read a Bourne novel, there are some hints as to his past and his amnesia so you get some idea as to his background, including his real identity. 
The Bourne Evolution is a fresh take on an old series, but leaves out all of the things that was starting to bog it down; the past, the anti-Bourne conspirators, the old grudges, etc... We already know that Bourne has been a threat to pretty much everyone out there for reasons that are both convincing and not very convincing, so while he was up against another conspiracy, at least it was a new one with new players and new threats.  One of the things I have always enjoyed in these books was reading about the new ways Bourne took to get himself out of difficult situations and this book didn't fail on that part.  I like this new Bourne, but please leave out those sexualized female characters and make them strong, even if they are evil.