Ten Reasons Why I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes is THE Book

I am Mara. I am not Pilgrim. But am nuts with a capital N for I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. This novel is just how I like my books: big, complex, engrossing, and fast-paced. I devoured it, happily, and so will you.


As a disclaimer, I have to say that I’m no expert on action/spy/thriller novels. Sending me one for review is like sending a 70 year old grandpa to give his opinion on the Twilight movies. But, having said that, I’m pretty sure that this is THE thriller of the summer. For everyone. James Bond fans or not.


I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes


Here are 10 reasons why I think you should read I Am Pilgrim


  1. It’s the opposite of boring. This novel is multi-layered. The parallel stories are so skillfully entwined that you don’t even realize that they’re heading in the same direction until it’s too late to extricate youself. In fact, there’s so much going on that even a person with the worst reading ADHD would stay entertained and engrossed.
  2. It’s big. Clocking in at just over 600 pages, I am Pilgrim is a vastly satisfying read. It makes an excellent paperweight after you’ve finished excitedly consuming it. I promise you won’t feel like you’ve been left hanging.
  3. The characters are people you’d like to know. Just like you’d expect in a novel this complex, everyone is so well-drawn you feel like you’ve just had coffee with them and would like to extend the date for dinner (make sure you keep your wits about you though. You never know what they’re up to….). They’re all likeable (well, mostly. There’s one minor character who turns out to be fairly major who is NOT someone you’d want to run into in a dark alley or yacht.) Even when the good guys are being difficult or  the bad guy (he’s REALLY bad) is being bad, they inspire empathy.
  4. It’s like reading an HBO series. You can tell that I Am Pilgrim was written by an award-winning movie writer and producer. The pace is fast, the descriptions are vivid (but not overbearing) and the dialogue is realistic.
  5. It’s unique and current and engages our deepest curiosities about international intrigue. How fancy does that sound? The storyline explores and exploits our fascination with the secret ‘spy’ world and our greatest fears about terrorism. Seriously, it all feels so real, like it could happen. Exactly what does Terry Hayes know?
  6. You’ll have a tiny crush on Pilgrim (that’s his code name. He also goes by Jude Garrett and a few others monikers, but if I told you, I’d have to kill you. And I don’t want to do that.) But you can’t have him. Because I love him. I’m pretty sure he’s a really hot.
  7. The author knows his stuff. The detail, both for the ‘game’ and the locations is extraordinary. There was a lot of research undertaken in the making of this book, obviously. Either that or Hayes has an amazing imagination and is very convincing. You become immersed in Pilgrim’s world, and you don’t want to come out.
  8. You don’t have to like mysteries to like I am Pilgrim. I’m pretty sure that this book is for everyone. It’s got a little of everything and a lot of awesome. Even the most jaded literary reader would have a great time. Same with a lover of romances, and obviously those who are fans of action / adventure. I’m sorry, paranormal fans, but it’s vampire free. But give it a try – you may find you don’t miss your otherworldly friends.
  9. The novel is perfectly balanced. Some books are heavy on story and light on characters. Some are so character-driven that story comes second. And some writers are so good that you don’t care about anything except their words. Pilgrim has all three. Dive deep.
  10. Your book hangover lingers, but for the right reasons. Lately, it seems to be a trend to leave a reader wanting more. But not in a good way. The ending isn’t as much WTF but rather, OH YEAH! *fist pump*. Your book hangover is because you loved it, but not because you feel like the author didn’t finish.


Are you convinced? I hope so. And make sure you leave time. You’ll be staying up late for this one. If you’re in Toronto and would like to hear Terry Hayes talk about his movie Road Warrior, he’ll be at the TIFF Lightbox Monday, May 26th. Info here.


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