Jack Carr’s The Terminal List: Revenge Porn For the Far Right Crowd

It’s been a long time since I’ve disliked a novel as much as this one.
The Terminal List - Jack Carr

Within the last year or so, I’ve discovered a fondness for military and espionage thrillers, i.e., books that feature highly trained specialists utilizing their deadly skills against nefarious villains, with conspiracies and plot twists a-plenty.

As such, I was looking forward to Jack Carr’s The Terminal List, which seemed to have everything you could want from such a book: A Navy SEAL goes rogue to avenge his teammates and family, only to find himself in the middle of a cover-up that implicates the highest levels of the American government. That Carr was a former SEAL sniper himself promised to lend the novel an extra layer of verisimilitude.

But I couldn’t finish it. Morally repugnant and poorly written, The Terminal List reads like revenge porn for the far right crowd. It’s filled with ham-fisted liberal caricatures (e.g., the spineless admiral trying to make the Navy more diverse, the loveless political power couple who might as well be named ​“Clinton,” the imam whose claims of tolerance are just a cover), all of whom meet grisly ends, and wraps the protagonist’s increasingly sadistic actions in self-righteous smugness.

The best novels in this genre contain some measure of moral ambiguity or pathos, which offsets their characters’ violence and makes it more than just blood-soaked fantasy. However, I could find no such ambiguity in The Terminal List. Carr wants you to relish in the graphic details of every murder his ​“hero” commits (be it headshot, beheading, or disembowelment) and celebrate his descent into inhumane amorality. In the end, it was just too much. It’s been a long time since I’ve disliked a novel as much as this one.