My favorite part of learning the intricate details of a Russian submarine? Imagining Tim Curry as Dr. Petrov of course! Thank you for that special joy Mr. Clancy.
My dad and I were discussing screen adaptations of books and he noted that the Jack Ryan series has had more than a few leading men. I admitted I’ve only ever seen the Jim Halpert version and that I’d never read any of the books. Dad instantly went to the bookshelf and found this gem tucked between the Clive Cusslers and David Baldaccis. He told me I better read it quickly because next movie night, we had a date with Alec Baldwin.
So here we are, roughly 500 pages of submarine knowledge later, to talk about Clancy and Jack Ryan.
For those of you who haven’t watched any version of this story or read the books, Jack Ryan is an all around good, honest, stand up family guy. He’s also incredibly smart and works as an analyst for the CIA.
For Jack’s first adventure, we’re settled smack dab in the middle of the Cold War. The Americans get word that a distinguished Russian sub officer wants to defect to the United States. Such a bold move would be difficult to pull off under any circumstances, but it gets more complicated since he’s currently commanding one of Russia’s most advanced subs and 95% of his crew has no idea of his plans.
But that isn’t going to stop him. The sub is headed for America and the CIA is counting down the minutes until contact. They aren’t sure of his true intentions but they can’t pass up the opportunity that he’s being genuine. Then we have the Russians who are moving heaven and earth to stop him.
There are also sonar techs, the British Royal Navy, a bunch of American ships, ambassadors, and the President involved. It’s a hot, strategic mess and only one man can help pull it off. Jack Ryan.
It’s a good story.
There’s lots of military commentary, underwater physics, and characters to meet. It’s a classic America verses the bad guys story that Clancy expertly unfolds. I thought the last 50ish pages were particularly compelling.
However, it’s also quite slow at times and the details about the sub and its parts are extreme. I know Clancy’s background was in insurance sales but if I didn’t know that, I would have assumed he built engines for a living. It’s a lot to push through. But I did think it was worth it! Just know what you’re getting yourself into.
And who knows, maybe this will inspire me to read more military fiction!
Speaking of screen adaptations; I know that they’re smart for a lot of reasons. Built in fan base, generally well developed plots, you know how the audience feels about all the elements in advance, etc etc. But Lord, I’d love to watch something original too! I feel like movies and TV, it’s all remakes and adaptations and revivals. Do we need screen versions of Normal People, Little Fires Everywhere, Big Little Lies, Handmaid’s Tale, Game of Throne, 13 Reasons Why, Locke and Key, Birdbox, Cursed, The Secret, The Call of the Wild, on and on forever?
I’m not saying they’re all bad, there are a lot of adaptations I like! I love Harry Potter and Umbrella Academy and Sherlock and many others! But it so often feels like it’s the same stories over and over. Not only did they create a movie from the Snowpiercer books (hi Chris Evans) but they’re making a TV show too! Do we really need that?
Maybe I’m just getting old. This feels like an old lady rant. Get off my lawn, turn that music down, stop adapting books for every single thing.