Franchise books -- novels based on popular television and/or movie series -- are a hard sell. In one respect, readers want a return to the characters that make these franchises work, but, in another respect, readers want to be taken to a realm of imagination perhaps just beyond the reach of the franchise, being delivered a product that fits within the established continuity of the program BUT pushes the limits to show them something further.
The world of 24 has an even greater challenge, given that the premise of the show -- the real time ticking clock -- gets a touch lost in translation. The adrenaline drive fueling Jack Bauer and his efforts on behalf of the United States' Counter Terrorist Unit kicks back a bit as novels tend to provide a greater backstory and filler details than one would get in a 24 episode season. This isn't to say that the book format is inferior to the show; it only assures one that the books will have to always work a bit harder at sustaining the level of tension fans have come to expect from Jack.
That said, TROJAN HORSE is a pretty solid yarn involving a terrorist plot that could cripple the World Wide Web, certainly taking the CTU adventures well beyond the boundaries of Los Angeles (where Bauer and his companions are located). In a story that's set outside the scope of the television events (the setting is, in fact, before Season 1 of the hit Fox series), author Marc Cerasini has taken some creative license at exploring not only a much different Jack, but he also fleshes out Teri Bauer (Jack's wife), Tony Almeida, Nina Myers, and even Ryan Chapelle. While some of the events that take place do come off a bit out of character for what we've come to expect on the television show, Cerasini has the perfect explanation: these folks hadn't quite yet become who they were about to be when Season 1 began. So -- though I had some reservations about some behaviors, especially Tony's -- it was easy to dismiss.
TROJAN HORSE is a good read. It doesn't stray too far from the popular formula of the show, but it does explore the ramifications of other forms of terror in the modern world. And, on most accounts, it delivers some more great Jack Bauer moments for fans to enjoy ... while they're watching their own clocks waiting for the next episode on television to premiere.
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