I was not familiar with The English Teacher when I picked it up from my sister's bookshelf. That's because it was written as an Israeli spy thriller and never really made it big here in America. With an interesting premise and cool cover art, I thought I'd give it a try.
Well, it really didn't live up to my expectations (granted, they shouldn't have been high from simply reading the back cover and front picture). I think the biggest reason I didn't enjoy had to do with how the novel was structured. It reminded me of a basketball team that comes out to a blazing start. The book was like 9 for 11 from the field with a bunch of 3s. Truly, the first 50 pages were awesome. It had a real cool way about introducing the characters and created a lot of intrigue about who they were and their motivations. As I went on, I became excited about what might come of these characters as the novel continued.
Unfortunately, the pace didn't continue through the remainder of the book. Normally, books increase the action as the story continues and the author leads the characters into more conflict. While that did happen here, I never felt the pace picked up. Rather, the book always maintained the cool, slow style from the beginning of the novel. Again, while that style was great as the story began, I was hoping the author would hit another gear, you know, when the main characters were doing super cool spy stuff, but did not.
I then held out hope that this book would be like many others: cool start, slow middle, and exciting ending. Sadly, that didn't happen either. While the ending wasn't bad, it certainly wasn't super surprising and was a pretty quick end (again, the uber-slow lead up kind of held it back).
For all it's faults, the book is strong in many areas. Clearly the author was working to create fully round characters and it was no doubt their motivations and goals. Relatedly, because it was focused on spies, the author would often confuse the reader about whether the motivations offered were really or simply set ups. The book was also told in an interesting way - one of the main characters was revealing much of what happened in the past via conversation. But, since it was third person, the author would often describe the person's feelings during past events and also how he feels now (decades later).
Overall, the book is not a terrible read and certainly comes out of the gate strongly. I was just hoping the rest of the book could have kept pace.