Pure

Call me a Believer with a Blackberry, the Mohammedan with the Mac.

This started out as something adventurous and full potential and left me with a bitter need to finish it as soon as possible. One of the biggest reasons were the chapters by some agent (FBI, MI6, all unclear) and his endless name dropping of the education he had and the people he knew. When I realized every one of his chapters was the same, I started skipping pages. I only feel slightly bad about this.

The protagonist is Snooky, a self-described lady-boy. Her life consists out of drugs, drinking, partying and hanging with her friends/enemies. After a case of ‘Wrong place, wrong time’ she is told that he – born Mohammed – needs to go undercover in a terrorist organization. Snooky is terrified and nervous, Mohammed slowly takes over again, especially after he’s been fed hormones because he “can’t grow a proper beard”.

When not being interrupted by Secret Agent Show Off, Pure turns into a story about the life of a fundamentalist. Mohammed’s superiors have a Koran text for every excuse or trouble, the students need to learn about how to become a martyr, why the Caliphate is the only way, they ‘test’ bombs and courages and it all rolls up in one ball of misery.

It’s very clear that Mohammed/Snooky is very confused, more ill by the moment and very tired. Next to that there’s double crossing, triple crossing, confusion about who’s the double agent and so on. After 200 or so pages the story started to drag more and more, like Timothy Mo was unsure about where to end this.
Pure could have been enough if it would have stuck with Snooky’s life.

Pure, Timothy Mo, Turnaround Books 2012

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