The Bottom Line
- John Updike employs rich, descriptive writing
- Terrorist provides insight into what Islamic fundamentalists may think
- Updike's characters are full and complex
- Terrorist will force you to grapple with big questions
- Terrorist is slow and descriptive - not a lot of action
- You have to concentrate a lot while reading - not relaxing
- Lots of cynical or sad characters set a somber tone
- Terrorist is about a teenager in NJ who is a devout Muslim and is recruited to be a terrorist.
- Terrorist gives a portrait of how Islamic fundamentalists may view American morality.
- Detailed descriptions demand a closer look at society - church, family, death & meaning
- Updike develops characters well, but action is slow in Terrorist.
Guide Review - Terrorist by John Updike - Book Review
Ahmad is a sympathetic character. Updike lets readers into his head, forcing us to view American materialism and morality from his viewpoint. Updike also draws us into other characters' lives--Ahmad's mother, a high school guidance counselor, an African-American teenage girl, a worker in the Department of Homeland Security. It was striking to me how lost many of the characters were. In many ways, Ahmad was one of the most thoughtful and moral characters in the story. That is a disturbing realization when you consider that he is being groomed to be a terrorist.
Indeed, just as the protagonist is a thoughtful young terrorist, the novel Terrorist is a thought-provoking book. It is clear that Updike has thought a lot about American society, the inner city and modern morality. His descriptions and complex characters compel readers to do the same.
Terrorist is not easy reading. I did not get caught up in the plot, and that was disappointing. It was easy for me to put the novel down after 25 pages, both because I needed time to process and because it did not always keep my attention. Updike is a great writer, and Terrorist shows that; however, everyone may not like the book.