The Bourne Identity

Frequency Score: 8.0                                      Synchrometer: 9.2

Tyus’s Take:

Imagine waking up one day with no recollection of your life. You have no memory of where you are, what you are doing there, or even your own name. This is the condition faced by Jason Bourne after surviving a shipwreck one fateful night, and occasionally by yours truly after a night of Taco Tuesdays at the dining halls.

The Bourne Identity, the first of the Bourne Trilogy by Robert Ludlum, is an up-tempo novel that takes its reader on a journey through the pandemonium and intrigue of the world of government intelligence. Based in the late 20th century, the novel features a manipulative bureaucracy, compromised missions, and an international conspiracy to lure and take out one of the world’s most dangerous assassins, all with the enigmatic Jason Bourne at the center.

One of the central and most interesting elements of the book is Bourne’s struggle to piece together the fragments of his past life. Often he will come across strange clues, or will be stricken with haunting flashbacks that bring Bourne and the reader tantalizingly close to the truth. Even more clues are given to the reader when Ludlum shifts the focus away from Bourne, presenting events from the perspective of a different character. While these clues can bring a semblance of clarity, they often thicken the plot, further befuddling the reader. This leads the reader to ponder seemingly unanswerable mysteries such as what is Treadstone, who exactly was Jason Bourne before he lost his memory, and is it really possible for someone to lose cognizance from eating too many tacos?

Although a bit lengthy, (the book rounds out at around 523 pages), The Bourne Identity is a fun, action-packed novel that will take readers on a rollercoaster-like expedition across Europe and North America. Suspenseful and exciting, the first book in Ludlum’s Bourne Trilogy is a breathtaking read, and sets the bar high for its subsequent novels.

T-Score: 4.2

Collin’s Critique:

The Bourne movies, starring Matt Damon, are based upon a series of books by the renowned author Robert Ludlum.  Interestingly enough, the books and the movies contain fundamental differences The only meaningful commonality is that Jason Bourne is an American spy who suffered a traumatic incident that caused him to lose his memory; everything else is different. The lack of parity between the books and the movies allows fans of the movies to read the books and enjoy a completely new tale with the familiar and beloved Jason Bourne.

The Bourne Identity, is Ludlum’s first novel in the Bourne trilogy. The novel details Bourne’s journey to piece together his obliterated memory. This concept is intriguing; following Bourne’s journey to discover his past life is thrilling. He traverses the globe, falls in love, fights a world famous assassin, and clashes with the American intelligence community. Like any good spy novel, Ludlum incorporates a great deal of intrigue and shock into The Bourne Identity. There are exciting twists and turns with many interesting characters. I greatly enjoyed reading about the inception and evolution of Bourne’s romantic relationship with Canadian economist Marie St. Jacques. Overall, The Bourne Identity has a myriad of positive aspects.

Personally, I became a little overwhelmed by the amount of characters and plot deviations. This caused me to become a little bit confused and enjoy the story a little bit less. The story also dragged on over the course of 500+ pages of small font. Ludlum could have heightened reader experience by simplifying the plot and reducing the overall length of the novel.

This all being said, I recommend this book to those of you who may enjoy spy/mystery novels vis-a-vis James Bond or Sherlock Holmes. The Bourne Identity, in my opinion, would certainly be a good read for those of you who have seen and enjoyed the Bourne movies. If neither of these criterion apply to you, you should probably leave this book on the shelf.

C-Score: 3.8

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