Book Review: The Bourne Legacy

I thought I stray over into some fiction this time around. I almost wish I hadn’t. Eric Van Lustbader tries to pick up where Robert Ludlum left off and while he doesn’t do a terrible job…it’s not a great one either. Ever seen a great movie that did so much better than anyone could have thought so they decided to make more without really thinking through it? This is the book form.

We find David Webb/Jason Bourne teaching at Georgetown University. He’s married, got a couple of kids but we never see them during this story. An attempt is made on the life of David Webb which launches Jason Bourne back to the forefront and what ensues is an around the world jaunt to find the terrorists who’ve made this super weapon of mass destruction.

What made the Bourne trilogy so appealing was that he wasn’t James Bond. He’s not going to get the girl because he doesn’t really know who he is and we are on the journey with him. There may be some devilish bad guy who is set on ruling the world but that’s not Bourne’s problem to solve. He is his problem to solve. And most of the time what he finds, he doesn’t like. Neither do we but at least we feel the conflict of that with the character and we get to watch him make sense of it and resolve it. We like the story because we see a character who doesn’t like who he has become and he’s desperately trying to change that.

The other thing was even though the escapades and action sequences were incredible – they were at least in the realm of possible.

This book never seems to capture that. It’s not a bad book. It’s just reads more like James Bond than Jason Bourne.

Overall, a decent book but not great. 2.5 out 5 stars.


3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Bourne Legacy

  1. A major letdown no doubt – especially in the wake of Ludlum’s trio. I’ll do you one better than decent…I actually regretted the experience and wish I could have those 8 hours of my life back. Which is your favorite of the 3 by Ludlum?


  2. Zach – good question. I don’t know if I have a great answer.

    Ludlum was such a good writer, I honestly look at the trio as one, big long book.

    I guess I’d pick Supremacy…but I could easily be talked into the other two as well.


  3. I know this is 3 years late, but thank you thank you THANK YOU! Finally someone else who’s actually read the original trilogy, and realised that this book should never ever have been written.

    I read it, was quite perplexed at the seeming inanity of the story, and decided to google some reviews. And I came up with so many that rave about how ‘exciting’ and ‘complex’ The Bourne Legacy was… which left me scratching my head thinking what did I miss? Thankfully, I then came upon yours.

    Exactly as you put it, this was James Bond, not Jason Bourne. Even the ’emotional’ content seemed superficial and rather obvious, instead of the psychological thrill we got from slowly peeling back and discovering Bourne’s many layers in the origial trilogy. Made even more stark by Lustbader not leaving anything to be read between the lines, his prose is overly descriptive: he interprets for the reader exactly what is going through Bourne’s mind and emotions; whereas Ludlum would just paint a memory playing out, and let the reader FEEL its emotional content.

    I have a feeling many reviewers are reviewing the book as a brainless superspy action thriller, the way the movies portrayed him, rather than the way Mr Ludlum originally wrote Jason Bourne, which was to be an exercise in psychology first, with action/espionage in a supporting role.

    Anyway, just felt like venting. And not gonna bother with the subsequent novels now.


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