Trigger Warning by William W. Johnstone
With the political climate as it is these days, writing a book like this is certainly a bold move, and I suspect readers will either love or hate the plot and storyline.
I did my best to go into this book with a neutral mindset and tried to evaluate several aspects of the book, not simply what message the author may have been trying to portray. Here's my review.
Jake Rivers is trying to decide what to do with his life now that he's a civilian. Being a ex-army Ranger doesn’t give him a lot of marketable business skills, so at the urging of his grandfather, a major benefactor of Kelton College, Jake decides to pursue a graduate degree at the liberal arts school. It’s quickly apparent that Jake's values and beliefs are part of a silent minority at the school, but he fully intends to fly under the radar, keep his opinions to himself, and focus on obtaining a biology degree.
When an altercation between a woman and her boyfriend turns physical, Jake's training and principles won’t let him turn a blind eye. His intervention results in an attack by masked assailants, and Jake has no choice but to defend himself. As the videos of the attack go viral, Jake becomes the most famous pariah on campus and the poster child of every social issue the students and faculty fight against. But when terrorists attack the college, Jake becomes pivotal in thwarting their plan and protecting his fellow students and faculty, and all social platforms and political ideology take a back seat. Just in case there might be any confusion as to where the players stand on the issues, the author makes it abundantly, annoyingly clear. The first time, it’s clever. The second time it cements the concept, the third is redundant and the fourth is just hitting the reader over the head with it one time too many.
This book came to my attention when comments about it showed up in my Twitter feed. My curiosity was piqued and I was intrigued by the plot and thought that the story would either be an epic failure or a touch of genius. I requested an advance copy from Kensington via NetGalley and determined to approach the book with an open mind, setting aside my personal beliefs. Knowing I would be posting a review, I thought that an objective approach would be most useful to other readers. If I was reading reviews in consideration of buying this book, it wouldn’t be pertinent to me who the reviewer supported in the last election, but I would care about what he or she thought of the book – the plot, the storyline, the character development and the writing style.
If this book's premise doesn’t interest you or you’re put off by it, don’t bother wasting your time and money on it. I thought the author did a good job with the plot, and the storyline clipped along at a good pace and easily kept my attention. I really liked Jake's character, with his unflappable determination and quiet strength. I got a kick out of the “Die Hard" references and actually liked Jake's character better for his understated bada**ness, and I loved the twist at the end. Although I felt a bit battered from having some of the points hammered on to such a lengthy degree, I was still able to appreciate the message that, when things are desperate enough, ideology is abandoned and enemies become friends in order to save lives and combat evil.
I do have to give props to the author and publisher for putting this kind of story out there in today's political climate. It’s a gutsy move and I doubt there will be any ambivalence on the part of the reader – you’ll either love it or hate it. The author's stance is abundantly clear so this book will best be enjoyed if the reader puts aside any political and social bias before digging into it. Otherwise, it will serve no purpose other than to raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke, and there are plenty of other things in life that have that effect without actively seeking them out.
For the most part, I enjoyed this book, but clearly there were some things I had issues with. As for the book being an epic failure or a touch of genius, it fell somewhere in the middle for me. So why a four-star rating and not one or two stars? I’ve been very careful to try and give an objective, unbiased review, and in my experience with posting reviews on Amazon, this rating gives the review a better chance of staying on the front page and having more visibility. I’m a firm believer in gathering facts and making my own determination, rather than simply believing what I’m told, and I hope I’ve been able to assist you in making your decision about choosing to read this book or passing on it.