The Year of the Locust, Terry Hayes

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

I was so looking forward to THE YEAR OF THE LOCUST, and yet, somehow, it's arrival in my ebook queue came as a hell of a surprise. So, needless to say, everything else got swept aside and I settled in for what I hoped would be some days of engaging espionage thriller reading.

Which I got, and then some more, and then a whole lot of different stuff, and then a bit more of what was expected. What I'm trying to say in such a hamfisted way is there were bits of THE YEAR OF THE LOCUST that grabbed and did not let go, and then there were bits that simply did not work, and then there was some more stuff that did. 

The story starts out with Kane on a suicide mission into the badlands of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan on a journey to extract a witness with things to tell the Western authorities about a major action being planned by the successors to ISIS. An attack that will make previous multi-location coordinated attacks look like amateur hour. Needless to say it's Kane against a viscious, dangerous, ruthless adversary. Which of these men is going to survive this initial encounter looks very doubtful and it's only by the skin of his teeth, and because of the brave intervention of a local woman, that Kane lives to fight another day.

Meanwhile, at home, his partner is struggling with the deep ops nature of the work that Kane does, the injuries he comes home with, and what their future holds. Which gets worse when Kane goes back to active duty, yet again, in pursuit of the West's greatest enemy, this time holed up deep in Russian territory.

Anybody who absolutely loved I AM PILGRIM is going to get a lot of the components that worked so well in that novel, delivered again in spades, but there's a sub-thread here, where things shapeshift into something more dystopian / dream sequence / science fiction / extreme technology for quite a while which, frankly, for this reader just made... no. sense. whatsoever. It didn't feel like it contributed anything and just sent stuff into "WHAT THE" territory for nearly long enough for me to pitch the bloody thing against a wall. Then we were taken back into espionage thriller with an overlay of emotional exploration territory like there was nothing much to see here, and I will admit I came away from the whole reading experience thinking oh bugger. Not that there's anything wrong with a dystopian turn, and god knows these days there's much about real life that feels decidedly dystopian, but somehow, this just didn't work for this reader. It sort of hung there like a bit of a smell in a room that's filled with people desperately pretending it wasn't them that farted. 

Maybe it's an acquired taste this combo of the extremes of espionage and extremes of dystopia / science fiction and new technology. Not sure I'm up to the work required to acquire it.

Year of Publication

If, like Kane, you're a Denied Access Area spy for the CIA, then boundaries have no meaning. Your function is to go in, do whatever is required, and get out again - by whatever means necessary. You know when to run, when to hide - and when to shoot.

But some places don't play by the rules. Some places are too dangerous, even for a man of Kane's experience. The badlands where the borders of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan meet are such a place - a place where violence is the only way to survive.

Kane travels there to exfiltrate a man with vital information for the safety of the West - but instead he meets an adversary who will take the world to the brink of extinction. A frightening, clever, vicious man with blood on his hands and vengeance in his heart...

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