Good action marred by laughable political conspiracies and a not-so-hidden message
Eric Van Lustbader is better known as the author who has picked up the Bourne series since the death of Robert Ludlum. First Daughter has some similarities to that series in that we have vast government conspiracies, brainwashing and one man versus the system.
The action in the book is strong.
The back story Van Lustbader told to introduce us to the main character, Jack McClure, is much more interesting than the main plotline.
The politics in this book are laughable. The President is a thinly disguised clone of Bush43 (Iraq, 9/11, Patriot Act, Faith-based initiatives, etc.) except he has the paranoia and anger level of 3 or 4 Richard Nixons. The President makes new policy initiatives in his last week in office. With less than a month to go he has a major negotiation with the Russians, even though everyone knows that no one negotiates with a President with so little time left in office - his replacement will just countermand all of them in a matter of days!
Atheist terrorist groups abound (or maybe they don't there's a big plot hole here), even though there's no such thing. People will kill for their religious beliefs, but I can't imagine anyone killing over their lack of belief...
Even more annoying is Van Lustbader's insistence on ridiculing religion throughout the book. The President is a religious fanatic. The President-elect uses religion as a tool to get elected. The minister who is out to save the neighborhood sells out in a political alliance. A grieving mother finds comfort in the church of her youth - but she leaves it and now acts much more sane. A religious peer of McClure (the only one) ends up leaving the church and McClure congratulates him for it. The bad guy comes off as sort of a good guy in this anti-religious mindset.
It is one thing to decry religion in politics (I'm very religious and I don't like religion in bed with politics) but, it is entirely another thing to decry religion altogether. Maybe Van Lustbader thought he was being subtle, but he was about as subtle as a wrecking ball.
Recommendation: There are plenty of other action/political thrillers out there.
I rate this book 2 out of 5 stars.
Reviewed on September 1, 2008.
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