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Monday, February 9, 2009

If Mitch Rapp and Jack Reacher got into a fistfight, who'd win?


For those of you who don't know, Mitch Rapp is the supreme counter-terrorism agent and ultimate tough guy in Vince Flynn's thrillers. And Jack Reacher is the former military police officer, now wanderer, hobo and also ultimate tough guy from Lee Child's books. Anyone who reads these would probably think neither would win, or whoever gets in the first punch (which would be neither since both of these guys are too guarded to allow it).

This brings up the question, how real do you like your characters? Both of these guys are almost superheroes. They can do things you and I can't. They are smarter than anyone I know, and tougher too. But I love them. When I finish one I can't wait for the next. I'd have a hard time saying who I liked better. The books are equally good in my mind. I would probably perfer to have lunch with Jack Reacher since I think Mitch Rapp can be kind of a jerk at times. But they are both better than real. That's why I can't stand the "normal guy" characters of Harlan Coben. Even though I can't put his books down, I always feel a little disappointed at the end.

On the flipside, when I am reading more literary or dramatic books, I prefer my characters to be more real. You know that feeling of sadness when you finish a great book and you are suddenly overwhelmed knowing that you won't ever see those characters again. I still think about Fos and Opal from Evidence of Things Unseen and it has been several years since I read it. Holden Caulfield and Phoebe from Catcher in the Rye still talk to me as well.

Who are some of the characters you have loved?

10 comments:

ksm said...

When I was younger, I think I was more attracted to those vaguely superhuman characters - hence my love for "Star Wars" movies and fantasy literature. Now, I think I get more satisfaction when the characters are somehow both flawed and magical. "Life of Pi" comes to mind - still a fantastic story, but all of it created to support a real human being going through unimaginably terrible circumstances.

Linda K. said...

I definitely like my characters to be less real. I mean think about it, don't we get enough reality just living every day? I love to exscape reality in the books I read. One of my favorite characters is the ex-governor of Florida (Skink)in Carl Hiaasen's books. He's an extreme environmentalist, camps out in the woods dishing out justice to those who violate the land and water, and he's strong, both in character and body. Another favorite and even more extreme environmentalist is Serge Storms in Tim Dorsey's Florida series. (Tim Dorsey has been referred to as "Carl Hiaasen on steroids.") Jack Reacher is also a favorite. How can you not like a guy who always gets the bad guys and wanders around with only a toothbrush as luggage, and best of all - no cell phone?

Roberta said...

That's a tough one. I think characters can be "real" and not dull, but I also love the over-the-top characters like Admiral Morgan in the Patrick Robinson Navy thriller series (Nimitz Class). Still, the "real" characters that I enjoy are the ones who are in unusual situations. If they're real and they also lead boring lives, count me out!

Anonymous said...

Reacher would squash Rapp with his big toe.

Anonymous said...

...but just before Rapp dies from Reacher's bunyans, he inserts a deadly virus he obtained from his last mission into one of Reacher's long unmanicured toenails...

Anton Cipri said...

I just got done reading Vince Flynn's latest novel called "Pursuit of Honor" and prior to that read several Jack Reacher novels.

I think to myself...I can't possibly be the only person in the world who has had this thought. So I open Google and type in "Mitch Rapp Vs Jack Reacher"

And what pops up? Your blog! Very cool to know I am not the only one out there who wonders stuff like this!

Here is my humble opinion. Mitch Rapp is much more pragmatic. I can't get past the fact that Reacher is a drifter! I equate that with LOSER! That really bugs me about him! I love the guy but man, don't be such a friggin loser and drift all over the place! It weakens him as a tough guy. I want to pack my shit in a bag an run too...but I don't! Why? It's called responsibility.

Mitch is a real asshole at times (as Reacher can be too) but he is much more believable.

Now with that said...they are both SUPER HUMAN and could NEVER get away with the crap that they pull and walk away as they ALWAYS do.

David Page Coffin said...

Just getting to the end of the Reacher novels and looking for similar characters, so thanks for the suggestions. I haven't been browsing this genre for a while so my first thought upon meeting Reacher was: "A-ha! Here's the 21st Century's answer to Travis McGee; cool!" Second thought: "OK, now what?" Off to Amazon…

Anonymous said...

Harlen Coben characters too real? All I have to say is: Win

Anonymous said...

Reacher outweighs Rapp, has a longer reach and he fights dirty. He also never loses. But he says he feels a little uncertain around CIA/delta force guys because they are so well trained and have so many ways to kill you. He is definitely spooked by crazy unconventional fighters. Most of the guys he fights are amateurs. However, he has an uncanny ability to sense danger and acts preemptively. I think he would not wait to get into a fight and just pull a gun and shoot Rapp.
Rapp's thing is torturing restrained prisoners and deflecting politicians and he almost always has a posse and backup while Reacher works alone.
My money is on Jack Reacher.

Steve G said...

Jack Reacher is the ultimate tough guy. But common, give him alittle class Maybe a car, clean underwear and a mailing address. Mitch Rapp is tough, but the guy I like is Scot Horvath.

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