Sunday, September 18, 2011

the bourne identity by robert ludlum


allow me to start this review by mentioning that one time i bumped into matt damon in central london and he was an absolute sweetheart; chatting to me for about five minutes, posing for photographs and giving me the obligatory autograph (which i have subsequently lost after struggling to find a use for it).

the original novel, by ludlum, upon which the films are based was published in 1980.  it is the story of a man found, shot in the head, in the meditteranean sea.  he is nursed back to health by an alcoholic ex-doctor but has lost his memory.  certain place names hold special significance to him: zurich & the bank account engrained on a chip on his body and paris: he must find his way to paris.  he makes his way to the bank and there he finds not only $5million but also his name: jason bourne.  jason bourne is still the subject of a top secret american mission but the mission is set just after the vietnam war: jason's family were killed in Phnom Penh, hence his willingness to forget his past and become this 'character' utilised  by the government to snare Carlos: the world famous assassin.

i have seen the films countless times (did i mention that i met and love matt damon?) and remember an interview with stephen fry about said films where he mentioned that he loved the books.  so when i saw one in a book shop i thought i would try it - but even with a strong love for the films expected to be disappointed by the book.  i always feel that the excitement and atmosphere is sometimes lost in a novel where it can be excellently portrayed in films - but ludlum is great at keeping a strong pace, excellent characters and a fantastic plot.  the book is similar enough to the film in the sense that you know as little about the main character as he does about himself but his mission is different enough to keep you not only entertained but turning the pages at a rate of knots.

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