Book Review: The First Hostage

By Douglas Soule on March 05, 2016 from Book Review via

ISIS has attacked a peace summit in Amman, Jordan, and has bombed the surrounding areas into pieces. Even worse, President Harrison Taylor is missing, presumably captured by hostile forces. The head of state will lose his head in his current state, unless the combined forces of multiple armies can prevent it.
The First Hostage by Joel C. Rosenberg follows his previous novel, The Third Target. While it is recommended to read the first novel before you descend into the second, the plot is coherent without doing so.  From the beginning, the reader is Islammed with action. New York Times journalist J.B. Collins watches a Jordanian F-16 jet crash into a Jordanian palace, where the peace summit is being held. Chaos ensues. The United States president goes missing in the mayhem. The fate of human civilization is precariously balanced, and every action taken has the possibility of knocking humanity into annihilation.
One man has the chance to overcome this apocalyptic scenario, a man who has the power of penmanship and plot armor thicker than the metal of an atomic missile: journalist J. B. Collins. Middle-aged, out-of-shape, covered with cuts, and bald, Collins sounds more likely to be a user of heroin than a hero. Miraculously, despite meager military training, he escapes gunfights and explosions, dodging death like a politician dodges questions. While the main character is scarcely feared for, evidence shows that President Taylor may encounter an execution dissimilar to ones he previously experienced in his part of the executive branch. The reader is dragged through tense conflicts, political maneuverings, and national crises, but the survival of the president is a worry that constantly nags. For if ISIS murders the most important and guarded man in present times, who can’t they reach?
In the face of worldly warfare, political corruption spreads like sarin gas, infecting those near. When it is realized that there is a spy leaking data to ISIS, trust among even close governmental allies is strained. Collins finds himself between an Iraq and a hard place. With confidentially required for survival, suspicions are higher than a Jordanian F-16. Unfortunately, journalists aren’t acclaimed secret keepers. Collins is forced to confront his largest foe: secrecy. He has a tougher time with it than a high school’s gossip girl.
While Joel C Rosenberg writes many awesome scenes in The First Hostage, there are also awkward sections that burn the eyes. Rosenberg slips his political and religious views into his novel in ways that are blatantly obvious. These parts are poorly-executed, speed-bumping the reader’s immersion. Sometimes throughout the novel I had to stop and wonder, “Am I reading an editorial?” Every author’s story is written with a degree of bias, but Rosenberg puts his beliefs on a dais, flaunting them like a redneck parades a Confederate flag.
Even with its faults, The First Hostage remains an engrossing read. Gas attacks, drone strikes, gun fights, and plentiful explosions- this book is bursting with action, leaving audiences salivating for more.

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