Look, let’s be honest: You watch plenty of Netflix. So let’s try a little reading for entertainment this weekend!
The below book series are all military action / adventure thrillers. Each series goes at least 12 books deep, so if you pick up book #1 and enjoy it, you have entertainment options for a fortnight, no Netflix necessary.
Although I won’t go deep into these reviews, let’s see if I can share enough to whet your appetite for some fun military action reading.
The Grey Man Series
The Grey Man series is the grittiest of the three book series we’ll look at. More specifically, it is the most bone-crunchingest and sucking-chest-woundiest, although the Jack Reacher series we’ll talk about below often has more gore.
The military and combat sequences of Grey Man don’t pull any punches. It fact, what often sets Court Gentry – The Grey Man – apart from the other two leads is his ability to persevere through the wounds sustained via violent situations. Sometimes this challenges belief, but what are books for if not for stretching our imagination.
Court Gentry is an assassin that works as a contractor after being burned by the CIA. There are times when readers even wonder if he is a good guy at all. He’s certainly the most morally compromised of the three leads we’ll talk about today.
But Mark Greaney is the best writer of the three authors. His action is incredibly engaging and his descriptions of military tech and weaponry are clear and captivating. He also writes great dialogue. For example, the character Hightower is a foul-mouthed agent that will frequently have you chuckling.
“Grey” is an apt word. Court Gentry is no white knight like Scot Harvath, who we’ll read about below. But I still recommend The Grey Man books highly. The writing is superb and the action is non-stop. You might not always root for the hero or feel good about the moral relativism of the characters’ decisions but the books are absolute page turners.
The Jack Reacher Series
Jack Reacher doesn’t sustain as many injuries as Court Gentry primarily because he’s such a huge, intimidating presence that someone would be crazy to pick a fight with him. The violence of Reacher isn’t always fistfights the characters engage in, it is often depicted instead through descriptions of grisly, gory murder scenes that Jack Reacher – being former Army MP (Military Police) – investigates.
Reacher being a former military investigator gives the Reacher books a detective mystery vibe that is distinct from the other two. Reacher is a detective. Court Gentry is an assassin. Scot Harvath – who we’ll meet in a moment – is a military special forces hero.
The hobo vibe of the Reacher stories is another distinctive. Reacher just kind of roams around, a man without a home. He doesn’t work for an agency or answer to a government. He simply finds himself pulled into murder-of-the-week situations. And he solves it by the turn of the last page.
Reacher is no saint, but he’s a good man who is willing to do the right thing. Lee Childs is an excellent writer that does a great job with descriptive text as well as with writing characters. I highly recommend the books.
I enjoyed the Tom Cruise movies but the Amazon television show is wonderful. The casting of Reacher is perfect and you can’t help but picture him as Reacher when you read the books.
The Scot Harvath Series
Scot Harvath, on the other hand, is a saint. Of the three, Scot is the true hero that always does the right thing. He’s the closest to Captain America and as a result, is the most likable of the three and the one you root for most.
He is also the most patriotic. Harvath was an Olympic skier turned Navy SEAL who was a member of the Secret Service by the time we meet him in the books. He loves his country and will die to protect it. He’s blue eyed and handsome, and readers know he’ll win in the end. And probably get the girl as well.
Yet author Brad Thor is the weakest writer of the three. Scot Harvath is said to be a funny and a bit of a smart alec. But readers have to be told that because the written dialogue is often more corny than humorous and readers wouldn’t know it was a joke except the author tells us the other characters laugh.
But Brad Thor’s storylines are entertaining and thrilling, like watching a Tom Cruise Mission Impossible movie. Even though you know the hero will pull it out in the end, the fun is in the journey of how he gets there. Despite the flaws, Brad Thor’s books get a high recommendation from me, largely because there is a sense of optimism and wholesomeness to the books. Sometimes the world needs a hero and Brad Thor gives us one.
Military actions thrillers are page-turners, so they are always fun as weekend reading. I’ve read 4-6 books in each series listed above and I’m yet to be disappointed.
Whether it’s Jack Reacher for the detective vibes, Gray Man for gritty assassination plots, or Scot Harvath for root-for-the-hero tales, they are all entertaining.