Title: I Am Pilgrim
Author: Terry Hayes
“I had identified the Saracen, but I didn’t know him; I had located him, but I couldn’t find him; he was somebody, and he was nobody. That was the truth, and nothing in the world was going to change it.”
This book was bought as a present for me from the lovely @thehelsproject. This is her favourite book, so it had a lot to live up to when I started reading! It was intimidating to pick up as it’s almost 900 pages, so I knew I had to be committed. I Am Pilgrim is a thriller novel which concerns the life of Pilgrim, a mysterious government worker whose career has involved some questionable scenarios. The book starts out with a murder in New York, but quickly becomes more than that as we are introduced to Pilgrim and his history of dealing with grisly and complicated cases, especially that of the Saracen. But, while on this case, will the past suddenly catch up with him and will he lose the comfortable and secretive life he thought he had secured for himself?
The main storyline in this book concerns the life of the Saracen; we are introduced to him as a child, and watch him grow up until he turns into a national threat. It was really interesting to see how what happened to him as a child affected the way he was as an adult, but if I’m perfectly honest I just got a little bored with him. I thought Hayes wrote him well – meaning I was genuinely scared of the casual violence he was capable of, not to mention his backward justification for it – but it didn’t need to be dragged out quite as long as it did.
As we learn about the Saracen, we also learn about old cases that Pilgrim worked on. They were like mini-plots which ran through the overarching one, and I did like how all the plots wove into each other and eventually all became relevant to the same storyline. HOWEVER, it didn’t half take a while to get there! I know it’s a tactic to keep me reading, but when it’s 900 pages, you’ve got to give the reader something before page 850 or they’re going to lose interest!
For me, I cared way more about the little side plots, and other cases, than I did about the main one, which obviously meant when I was learning about the Saracen, I was just waiting for the story to go back to one of those. It’s a shame that I didn’t love the main plot, but I think it was because I was expecting the book to be much more about solving a murder case rather than the terrorism case it was actually about.
I do think there were a lot of clever moments in the book (mainly to do with a case involving a mirror (I will say no more)) so that definitely made it worthwhile reading. I also think it was clever, if a little disturbing, to read about the Saracen’s plan, and how it had taken him years to plan.
The climax at the end of the book was good, and I’m glad the ending was interesting, or I would have felt that my time had been wasted. I’m not sure if a sequel is in the works for this book, but it’s definitely easy to see how the author could create one, and I’m sure for people who love this book, they would be more than happy with another one.
All in all, I enjoyed I Am Pilgrim – I think it would be obvious if I didn’t enjoy it because there would have been no way I would have read all 900 pages of it! However, it’s a shame it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Had it had a little more focus on solving the murder cases rather than on the Saracen plot, then I would have preferred that. Then again, maybe I need to be reading more whodunnits *immediately goes and finds another Agatha Christie novel to read.*