It’s the Jack Ryans and the CAMPUS versus The Rocket Man(A clone copy of Kim), in this long espionage/military thriller epic which continued the Clancy legacy universe in 2014 after he died. Mr. Greaney’s attention to detail and ability to weave all the subplots & the buildups will keep any reader of this genre hooked till the end.
Don’t get me wrong, this does not read like an actual Clancy book from the 80s & 90s. People who want books like the ones Clancy wrote will have to only reread his classic works. I don’t think there’d be another writer anytime soon on that level, and that’s maybe a good thing. Though I respect Clancy’s classic books, they wouldn’t work for today’s markets where readers(and all humans) have very low attention spans. The consumers today want stories that have the feel of an old genre, but fast-paced, sparsely detailed in comparison to the classic versions, and easy to understand & read & finish fast. This trend does help as I have trouble finishing a classic old Clancy book, and I enjoy the past decade’s Ryanverse/Clancyverse books as interesting pieces of entertainment despite any flaws.
Jack Ryan Jr. and his team at CAMPUS(Hendley Associates – an autonomous black ops group) tail a former CIA spook and witness him being assassinated in Vietnam. Their investigation confronts them with a Private Intelligence Company run by an opportunistic former FBI agent, a Mexican mining tycoon, North Korean assassins, and a few old faces.
The US government’s forces are looking into DPRK after the work of a sat-image analyst, a raid on a cargo ship by a SEAL team, and a North Korean missile that falls in the sea of Japan. Surprisingly for a Clancy book, there was no heavy military operations or large scale action involved. But it was good to experience Jack Ryan Sr. use the analytical skills from his former intelligence career in this book while still being an old, grumpy fictional President. His diplomatic skills with China, Mexico, DPRK, and within his own country is still on point as he resolves the whole situation in a matter of a few pages at the end while physically recovering from an assassination attempt on his life.
A previously used major character of the series, Adam Yao from Threat Vector, is back in this book for a big role. He gets trained by the top spooks at Langley to go deep cover into DPRK, the worst position for an undercover operative. The logistics, training, and detail of his operation is complex and written well compared to many contemporary thrillers. He gets to meet Jack Jr. in Vegas where they are both undercover at their separate operations, both indirectly connected to the same conspiracy. A change that I noticed was Jack Jr. being in full operator mode and avoiding the pages of his analyst work. Maybe it’s because a field operator would be a more entertaining main character than an analyst for most readers. Although, I did enjoy the Jack Jr. scenes in Command Authority(The previous Jack Ryan Sr/CAMPUS book) being a financial analyst for a firm in London investigating a complex web of money laundering and being dragged into an old school espionage type plot.
Jack’s cousin Dominic Caruso is dating Adara Sherman on their CAMPUS team, which starts in his solo book Support and Defend, but it appears to be a secret from their colleagues. Jack Jr. gets some chemistry with a private sector operative( a former French spook) who’s a bit older than him, but it doesn’t receive any happy ending when she’s betrayed by her own colleague – a fun, opportunistic, sociopathic scumbag named Edward Riley.
Riley, a private sector James Bond type character, is a washed-up Brit SIS operative who does anything necessary to keep his flashy lifestyle and rise into power, even working with North Korean assassins, Mexican Cartel enforcers, Cuban operatives, and middle eastern bombmakers. Despite being a villainous character, he steals the show by being the most interesting person in the midst of all the normal Chancy-esque characters.
The North Korean leader is portrayed as hilariously crazy as his real-world version which reads like a fun what-if scenario, considering the rocket-man drama that happened a couple of years ago. His ways of executing his own officers by feeding them to hungry dogs, burning them to a crisp, and his intense paranoia makes him appear like a comedic comic book villain, yet unfortunately realistic compared to his real-world counterpart. But the serious, fleshed-out North Korean characters are the director of their mining operations and the director of their foreign intelligence agency. They are portrayed as flawed, human, and realistic characters living in fear of their leader and working together trying to save their lives(and their families) by any means necessary while deceiving their own Supreme Leader.
Although very long and dramatic, this book reads more like an intelligence & espionage thriller than the normal Clancy military technothriller. There are good doses of techno fun including a human extraction capsule that uses a UAV drone, bomb tech, mining mechanism, and other things. A recurring major character on the CAMPUS team, who first appeared in Dead or Alive, dies in this book. I felt that he deserved to get a more meaningful death if the publisher needed him out to bring in another character. Reading Full Force and Effect is a better experience than watching any of the Clancy movies or TV adaptations. If you can avoid comparing it to Clancy’s classic works and view it as a contemporary work in his fictional universe, this long thriller is a good entertaining tale for a weekend in.