The Bourne Legacy - Eric Van Lustbader

***** The heir of Bourne (and Ludlum)

The change of pen is evident, though, I have to give merit to Van Lustbader for trying to approach Ludlum in so many small details (for example, the use of swear words, though not so excessively). But the difference is there. Van Lustbader’s writing is much more tidy, but devoid of the madness that Ludlum gave to his characters and made them fragile, fallible, and hence human. This new Jason Bourne is much more clear headed and controlled. One can take as a pretext the passing of time and a greater maturity of the character, who seems to keep control of his psychosis, but there are aspects that a reader, accustomed to the protagonist of the old trilogy, does miss. Although Bourne mentions the existence of a dual personality within himself, I couldn’t see it. There is no trace in the book of the continuous struggle between Jason Bourne and David Webb in his mind, often full of bickering.
This new, indestructible Jason Bourne reminds me of that of the movies and has nothing to do with the man who continued to live on the brink of failure, both physically and mentally, seen in Ludlum’s books.
I must say that, especially at the beginning, this lack has diminished my involvement in the character’s vicissitudes, until an essential element of the plot was brought to light (the title comes from it). From that point on, Van Lustbader played his cards well in digging into the psychology of the character and in his interaction with his “heir”, pushing me to continue reading and stirring up the pleasure of waiting for the moment when I would read again.
I didn’t like the total absence of Marie, who was only mentioned, while in the old trilogy she was a crucial character in the evolution of the protagonist.
Compared to Ludlum’s books, where I never knew what would happen on the next page, Van Lustbader’s story is quite predictable for those who have a bit of experience in action stories. The fact of following a certain natural pattern of evolution of the story is not a demerit in itself, but, compared to Ludlum’s undisciplined prose, Van Lustbader’s one suffers badly.
Rather, I don’t understand the need in such a well-constructed book to use mean tricks like breaking a scene between two chapters. Every single scene is so well written and arouses such curiosity that there is no need to force the reader not to stop at the end of a chapter.
The last part of the book is perfect, to say the least, as it merges introspection (of all characters) and action in a balanced and engaging way. What a shame Bourne makes an inconsistent choice towards the end, that is, not telling anything to his wife. This is totally out of character. But on the other hand, the fact that he thinks so little about his wife in all the novel, while she was constantly the centre of his thoughts in the trilogy, pushes him away from Ludlum’s Bourne, making him once again less human.
And even the choice made by his “heir” is not sufficiently motivated: it is just a pretext to leave the situation pending.
The epilogue has an open ending, as you would expect, which gives hope for the following novels. This, together with the virtual perfection of the last chapters, especially on the emotional level, has pushed me to give the book five stars, despite its defects, proving once more that the ending of a book has a huge influence on the reader’s opinion.

The Bourne Legacy on Amazon.