Cover Image: Better Off Dead

Better Off Dead

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Better Off Dead is one of the best Jack Reacher thrillers.  Lee Child and his brother have managed to create a tight plot in a true Reacher fashion that keeps you guessing from the first till the last page.  It moves at mega speed.  No skimming is required.
Was this review helpful?
I am a long time fan of the Jack Reacher books.  I have always enjoyed seeing what latest scrapes he has found himself in.  I usually find the books fast paced, rich with descriptors and interesting characters.

I felt that Better Off Dead was somewhat lacking.  I did not care for the first person view.  For me, it made Jack seem somewhat...simple.  The third person perspective makes the character seem much more complex.  I did not feel like the novel had the same richness previous novels have had, and it made me somewhat less interested in finding out what would happen.  The plot could have been developed in a more complex way. 

That being said, there were still plenty of fight scenes, and some moments when you wondered how Jack would work his way out of the situation he was in.   I still cared what would happen to him in the end.  

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the complimentary copy of Better Off Dead.  All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
I received an ARC copy of Better Off Dead from #NetGalley.

This is the first one I've read since Andrew Child started co-writing, and I definently notice a difference. The writing isn't as crisp as it was in the past, and a lot of sections were slow and bogged down. It was also in first person, and I honestly don't recall the any of the other previous novels I've read being written that way. It was a jarring enough that I noticed it.

While slow, the plot moved along until the bad guys forcing Reacher into their scheme/plan. It  really jumped the shark and was ridiculous. The convoluted explication at the end also killed the story.

Overall, it was ok but definitely not a standout Jack Reacher novel.
Was this review helpful?
This book is the latest in the Jack Reacher series, all of which I've read previously and enjoyed. This story isn't much different overall from the series, although you can tell Andrew Child is taking over, as the protagonist is a lot more violent and a bit darker than he has been in previous stories. It was still a good time - not a standout compared to the rest of the series, but a quick read that was generally consistent.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Book Review
Better Off Dead
Andrew Child  &  Lee Child
reviewed by Lou Jacobs | Goodreads
Not to worry Reacher fans, your next guilty pleasure has arrived. The torch is being successfully passed from Lee Child to his younger brother, Andrew Child (aka Andrew Grant).
The voice of our beloved iconic hero, Jack Reacher lives on, although somewhat more loquacious, his inimitable style of conflict resolution with action and violence in support of the challenged victim shines on. Although this is the 26th in the action thriller Reacher series, it can be enjoyed as a standalone. As always, the necessary backstory is seamlessly laid in.
Reacher, in his typical nomadic style, is traveling by bus and hitchhiking toward the Pacific Ocean. Carrying a toothbrush in his pocket and only the clothes on his back, he endures thanks to the moral compass in his soul.
As he approaches a backwater town near the Arizona-Mexico border, he comes upon the unbelievable: a jeep plowed into the only tree for miles, with a woman slumped over the steering wheel. All is not what it seems! We are immediately dumped into a scene out of a Bruce Lee movie. Reacher faces off against four thugs, all at least six-two and weighing more than two-hundred pounds. A detailed vivid fight sequence ramps up with Reacher ultimately beating them all to a pulp, with their resultant demoralizing bodily injury—but with the end result Reacher being shot in the chest by Michaela Fenton.
Fenton is a seasoned veteran of the Gulf Wars and ex-FBI specialist, who is in search of her twin brother, Michael. She was the woman slumped over the steering wheel, and was faced with a seemingly impossible task of penetrating the criminal organization that her brother, was involved with. She had received a message from him … “M – Help!” Written on the back of a business card from the Red Roan (a cafe in this town) accompanied by a condom. Fenton did not understand the significance of the condom, but certainly understood the cry for help. Reacher recognized her seemingly impossible plight and offered his service; and together formulated an intricate plan to infiltrate the criminal enterprise of the shadowy boss, Waad Dendoncker, involved in smuggling drugs, weapons and probably in making and distribution of bombs—with an ominous payload and probable national security implication. Michael is himself a veteran of multiple tours in Afghanistan (his specialty involving bombs—mostly their safe disposal). Fenton was aware of her brother’s disillusionment and disgust of the government and was fearful that he was involved with making bombs for Dendoncker. Interesting was the fact that his business venture operated under the name of Pie In The Sky, Inc. And, just where is the destination of these bombs?
Andrew Child, with some help by his brother, Lee , crafts a masterful and complex narrative that incrementally ratchets up tension, intrigue, and suspense with the expected Reacher action and violence that escalates into a barn-burning denouement. Featured are multiple well fleshed out sinister characters that propel the action into an addictive page-turner. I look forward to the eventual thriller penned alone by Andrew Child.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House publishing for providing an Uncorrected Proof in exchange for an honest review. For those younger fans of Reacher, unfamiliar with the television of the late 50’s and early 60’s I would suggest retrieving episodes of Richard Boone’s creation of “Paladin” for the series, “Have Gun-Will Travel” for an extended Reacher-like fix.
Was this review helpful?
I have enjoyed the Jack Reacher books from the first one to the latest one Better Off Dead. This book immediately hooked me into the story when I thought it might be the end of the series with Reacher finally in a situation where he doesn’t get out alive. I’ll let other readers find out if that’s the case. Only one really bad guy but lots of others that range from good to bad. A heroine this time that makes the difference. A different part of the U.S. than Reacher hasn’t been before and a good collaboration between father and son.
Was this review helpful?
A wonderful addition to the Jack Reacher series.  You cannot beat reading one of the Child books every year.

4 out of 5 stars

Published October, 2021
Review posted to Goodreads 11/17/21
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read the ARC of BETTER OFF DEAD in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Published by Delacorte Press on October 26, 2021

Despite their formulaic nature in recent years, I’m generally a fan of Reacher novels, in part because the formula is a good one, in part because of Lee Child’s spare writing style. The formula is to have Reacher walking down a road, stumble into a dangerous situation, make a reluctant decision to help the endangered, and fight his way through adversity as he subdues dangerous thugs and saves the day. Better Off Dead follows the formula but it lacks the tension and the style that keeps me coming back to Reacher.

In a slight departure from the formula, the story begins with Reacher lying dead on a morgue table. Readers know that Reacher is indestructible of necessity; killing him would end Lee Child’s income stream.

A few quick flashback chapters get back to the formula. As Reacher walks down a road, he spots a woman in a crashed car. She pulls a gun on him when he tries to help. Satisfied that Reacher isn’t one of the bad guys for whom she set a trap, the woman (Michaela, a/k/a Mickey) resets the trap and acquits herself handily, despite having a prosthetic foot. Reacher gets her to explain her problem, which involves the capture and possible murder of her twin brother, then reluctantly agrees to help her go after the bad guys. Part of helping her includes the opening scene in the morgue.

Dendoncker is the first of two bad guys. He seems to be manufacturing bombs. Maybe they are smoke bombs. Maybe they will release a poisonous gas. Michael was either willingly or unwillingly helping Dendoncker make the devices. I didn’t care much about Michael's fate because Mickey is such a one-dimensional character that her woes about her brother left me unmoved.

The second bad guy is named Khalil, although he exists more as a name than as a character. Whether he is working with Dendoncker or working at cross-purposes is a question that isn’t set up sufficiently to whet the reader’s interest in the answer. The eventual explanation of their relationship is strained and uninteresting.

The plot goes off the rails in the second half when Dendoncker decides to enlist Reacher in his evil scheme. The smart move, easily accomplished, would be to kill Reacher, but that would end Lee Child's income stream, so the villain can't behave intelligently. It’s not like Dendoncker has a shortage of lackeys to do his bidding. Instead, he has Reacher deliver one of his devices while holding Mickey hostage. The outcome is easy to predict.

The nature and purpose of Dendoncker’s device wasn’t made clear until after I stopped caring. Unfortunately, its purpose is the only clever and unexpected part of the story. The rest of the novel consists of Reacher hitting people. That’s fine, it’s what Reacher does, but the fight scenes in Better Off Dead lack pizzazz. At least Reacher didn’t hit someone in the throat (the current go-to move in tough guy thrillers), although he thought about it.

Lee Child is known for a crisp writing style that emphasizes short, punchy sentences. His style makes for easy and rapid reading, which probably contributes to his popularity. At the same time, he balances fragmented sentences with longer, more elegantly constructed passages. He creates a rhythm. This novel emphasizes the punch and minimizes the rhythm. I don’t know if that’s because Lee had less input into the writing style than his brother Andrew, but the style differs from other Reacher novels. I’m not used to seeing pointless sentences like “That was for sure” and “That was for damn sure” in a Reacher novel. The writing style feels like an attempt to copy Lee Child rather than authentic Lee Child. Enough Lee Child bleeds through the narrative to make the novel worth acquiring for Reacher completists, but readers looking for Lee Child at his best might to give this one a pass.

Was this review helpful?
Better Off Dead is classic Child--propulsive, surprising, and unstoppably readable. Another great read in the Jack Reacher ouvre.
Was this review helpful?
I am a huge Jack Reacher fan but the beginning scared me, but I knew he could not be dead.  Reacher is headed to San Francisco when he stops to help someone and finds himself in the middle of a crazy situation.  The woman he is helping is trying to find her brother and bring justice to the ones who hurt him. As always Reacher is helping those who are abused or who are victims.  Reacher and the woman, who is a veteran, have to fight against a very powerful man and his cronies.  I encourage anyone who has not read the Reacher books to do so because Lee Childs' character is awesome.
Was this review helpful?
After reading Reacher overcome all odds in defeating his foes in 25 prior episodes, one becomes accustomed to his prodigious fighting skills. But in this 26th adventure, this has sadly become so exaggeratedly overdone that it has reached comic book levels.
The story is interesting, the characters offbeat (although mainly two-dimensional), and still has thrills (if you're silly enough to actually worry about Reacher's survival), but one can only suspend so much reality before it becomes tiresome.
Was this review helpful?
I loved the early Jack Reacher novels - so in depth and with such purpose.
I really felt like I was just plugging a long in the story. While Jack has always 
Been hero like and larger than life, this story was not really believable. I rate
This 3.5 stars. Thank you NetGalley as always for this advanced copy
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this new book! 

I have read 12 of the Jack Reacher Series so I know them fairly well. This one needed additional editing/rewriting before publishing. Hope the new "team" keeps working at it! I know they will hit the right formula next time.
Was this review helpful?
This is the second book written by Lee Child and his brother Andrew, as Lee continues the process of transferring the Jack Reacher series to Andrew. I’ve read a lot of the series and I couldn’t detect any difference in the writing, so if you enjoy the series you don’t have to worry about this book. 

Reacher is still leading a nomadic life. This time he finds himself in a nondescript Arizona town. He meets Michaela Fenton, a tough army vet who is trying to extract her twin brother from the clutches of a very bad man and a parade of his thugs. As usual, the book is super violent from beginning to end. The actual motive for all the mayhem didn’t actually make sense to me, but I guess very bad men just have outsized solutions to their problems. The book is fast paced, short and enjoyable if you like Reacher. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Scott Brick. He made no attempt to differentiate the voices of Reacher and Fenton. It was often difficult to tell them apart since the authors made Fenton talk just like Reacher. I know some people like Brick, but I have no idea why. 

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Was this review helpful?
A little disappointed in this latest book.  I had trouble staying connected to the story.
Was this review helpful?
As is his wont, Jack Reacher had been wandering down a deserted road heading towards the Pacific ocean.   He comes upon an old army jeep that had apparently crashed. But, true to form, things aren’t always what they seem.  Jack has stumbled in a what will become a complicated criminal enterprise with national security implications.  He could walk away at various junctures but that just isn’t in his DNA. 
As engaging as any of Jack’s adventures, this story is gripping with plenty of action. 
I would like to thank the authors, the publisher and NetGalley for the advance copy of this work.
Was this review helpful?
BETTER OFF DEAD is another great Reacher thriller that finds Jack Reacher heading out west to see the Pacific Ocean, before he gets sidelined in a U.S.–Mexico Border town and stumbles into nefarious plan involving chemical weapons.

I particularly enjoyed the FBI Agent character of Michaela Fenton, an army veteran turned FBI agent, trying to find her twin brother.

I have noticed some brouhaha from reviewers that this isn’t the same Reacher from years ago. It’s been twenty-plus years and 26 Jack Reacher novels (including BETTER OFF DEAD), So I don’t find it hard to believe that Reacher has changed some. But he’s still kicks a lot of bad guy butt and is driven hard by his own moral code.

I liked the story line here with Reacher helping Michaela find her missing twin brother, and then dealing with a much bigger problem with the bad guys here up some very nefarious business.

The book was fast-paced with great action scenes. And in typical Lee Child style, some great twists and turns.
Was this review helpful?
Wow. This is a real disappointment. Whatever it is that I enjoy in Reacher books, this one doesn't have it. It's slow, kinda preachy, and full of set pieces, some of which are kinda stupid, and I didn't finish. I'll try the next one.
Was this review helpful?
Book #26 in the Jack Reacher series.  There are two kinds of people in the world, those that love Jack Reacher and those who have never read a Jack Reacher book.  To read them is to love him.  Every reader has their favorite or two and every reader will argue with you over why their favorite should be yours too.  Each book can be read as a stand alone, but once you join this fan club, you'll want to read the others too.  I've read them all.
Better Off Dead finds Jack in Arizona, not far from the border with Mexico.  Jack has standards and expects everyone to follow the basic rules of law.  He's often disappointed and often dispenses his form of justice, with or without the help of the local law enforcement agencies.  This story follows those guidelines and provided this reader with another excellent trip on the road with Jack Reacher.
Was this review helpful?
This was a well-written, entertaining book. It was fast-paced, action packed and I didn't want to put it down. This is a standalone book, though it is one of a series of books featuring the same main character, Jack Reacher. Though overall it was a great story, I did find it to be a little disappointing in some areas. The initial connection did not completely resonate with me, both the fact that Reacher was walking down a random road, and how easily he connected up with the person he met. There were some action scenes that did not make much sense, such as a group of bad guys "taking turns" and coming at Reacher one at a time, or Reacher going through a whole prolonged episode of hand to hand fighting when he could have just shot someone if it was that dangerous of an encounter. I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more books by this author.
Was this review helpful?