I’m starting a new “type” of posts within my book reviews, where instead of reviewing specific books, I review authors and try to tell you everything I know about them. I’ll still review books I like (or dislike), but I think it may be faster for me to get you up to date with the books I love by instead discussing the authors. I’ll start with an author whose works I’ve grown quite accustomed to: John Grisham.
John Grisham is an American author who writes legal thrillers. Most, if not all, of his books utilize his extensive knowledge of the American legal system, and focuses on the corruption and flaws of the system. Grisham has studied law, and at one time was a lawyer, so his novels are usually quite realistic. However, not all his books are worth reading.
Grisham is a prototypical example of what I like to call a “hit-or-miss” author. His books are either amazingly good…or amazingly bad. There seems to be little to no middle ground with his writing. When he writes well, his novels are simply a joy to read. He uses sub-plots extremely well, and using his knowledge of the legal system of America, he is able to create higly realistic scenarios while constantly raising the tempo and tension in the story to an explosive climax. The books that are worth reading of his are among my favorite books, by any author.
However, his books that aren’t so great are, in a word, terrible. It’s not that the writing itself is poor; the structure and grace of storytelling is still evident. The books that I dislike of his are just so, so boring. I feel that sometimes, in an attempt to make the novels as realistic as possible, the excitement in the plot is lost, and the book becomes far too mundane for my liking. I haven’t been able to finish a boring book of Grisham’s, and not for lack of trying. I’ve sincerely tried very hard to finish one of these books, but I just can’t. The plot becomes too boring, so much so that reading the story becomes unbearable. Usually, if you find that by the fifth chapter of a Grisham book you aren’t hooked into it, the book will turn out to be a dud. It’s not a great way to judge books, but for Grisham, I’ve found that the tactic works.
To sum up John Grisham in a couple lines, he’s a hit-or-miss author who writes legal thrillers. His books are always quite realisitc, and his writing style is enjoyable. His books are of decent length, although he should try to come up with more inventive titles (in my opinion, anyway). If you enjoy novels on law, Grisham is an author who’s worth reading.
Strengths: Realistic stories, uses multiple plot-lines exceedingly well, controls pace and tension of book well, and does not depend on a go-to template of a novel.
Weaknesses: When he doesn’t write well, you’ll die of boredom reading his books.
Must Reads: The Firm, The Brethren, The Runaway Jury
Be careful with his other books, as they may turn out to be unbelivably boring. I haven’t read all of his books, so I only speak from my experiences; a lot of his other books may just as well be excellent. If you haven’t heard of John Grisham (or you have, but haven’t already done so), try his books! Begin with the must reads previously mentioned; if you’re into thrillers, those ones you’ll certainly enjoy.