3 out of 4 stars
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The best way to describe The Lushan Addiction by Warren Shulman is "over-the-top." The book is about West Lambert, a former member of the Central Intelligence Agency, as he becomes embroiled in a plot involving a factory in a region of China, Lushan, that has found a way to create computer chips with startling speed and accuracy. What he finds out plunges his life into turmoil, as he must balance his own interests and relationships with preventing the secret of Lushan from causing global economic collapse.
There's a lot going on in this book, but throughout it all, the plot is cohesive and fully developed. I especially loved the fact that threats came from a variety of angles, including multiple villains - even, at times, West's purported allies. Nothing ever feels overwhelming, and the plot unfolds in a very natural way; it doesn't overly rely on coincidence or people breaking their established characters. This means that suspense pervades the novel, and I found myself really invested in finding out what was going to happen next.
Without a doubt, the book's main strength is in its action sequences. These never felt repetitive, and they always managed to draw me into the story in an exciting way, with a writing style that really put you in the characters' shoes. Even in quieter moments, West's background is apparent, and his skills as a former CIA operative always shine through. There's a great deal of detail in how China's culture is portrayed, too, and I loved that the setting was integrated into the story without feeling shallow or overwhelming.
The Lushan Addiction does have several key flaws, though. First, there's a tendency to over-explain certain concepts, even going so far as defining acronyms within the dialogue. You're assumed to know what a Dun & Bradstreet report is, but not to be able to deduce what Executive Service means. While these incidents were fairly uncommon, they never failed to break my immersion. There was also a myriad of grammatical errors in the novel, ranging from misplaced apostrophes and periods to confused homonyms.
I'd also be remiss not to mention the problems with how female characters are portrayed. While they are very capable, their stories still revolve entirely around the book's men, particularly West. They don't have their own ambitions, or, at least, these are never described. Because of this, despite their competence in areas like combat, they still feel one-dimensional.
At the end of the day, I rate The Lushan Addiction 3 out of 4 stars. It has an exciting plot rife with unique characters, and the detail in its worldbuilding and intrigue is astounding. However, I couldn't give it a perfect rating, largely due to grammatical errors. I'd recommend it to devout fans of traditional spy thrillers who don't mind some unpolished moments such as over-explanation or grammatical errors. In my opinion, people who don't already enjoy the genre are less likely to enjoy this book.
The Lushan Addiction
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