I have finished reading The Bourne Legacy novel. It is a partial sequel and partial reboot of the Bourne franchise designed to be the first of a new line of novels for a new era.

The Bourne Trilogy was published from 1980 to 1990 and starred a teacher and historian who lost his family. His wife and children were playing in the river next to a town where he taught and studied when a jet nobody admitted to sending came down and killed them before his eyes. He saw them die and he effectively went insane. He wanted payback, and so he went into Vietnam and found an American secret operation named Medusa who accepted him. There he became The Chameleon who could change his appearance and personality at a moment’s notice in his search to infiltrate, hunt, and kill as many North Vietnamese officers as he could. He also executed a traitor he found relaying his unit’s position to the North and killed the man on the spot. The man’s name was Jason Bourne, and his death was never made official. The Chameleon retired when the war ended, but not for long. Maybe a year or two at most.

There was an assassin in Europe named Carlos who needed taken care of, and our Chameleon’s superiors in Medusa asked him to volunteer to take the man out. He took the name of Jason Bourne as part of the operation, and they built Bourne up into an amazing assassin by taking credit for all kinds of unrelated people dying all over East Asia. Then he went to Europe to challenge Carlos and was captured by a couple of Carlos’ minions. They took him out onto a boat to kill him, but he beat them. He killed them. He burned the boat down, and he jumped off into the Mediterranean Sea. He was victorious. He had survived. But because he took a critical bullet to the head during the fight, that was all he remembered. Total amnesia. He knew nothing of his life, but he started to remember. Little things like being really good at killing people.

The rest of the Bourne Trilogy goes around him trying to find out who he is and who he was. His psychological fight between being the Jason Bourne he became for the operation, the Chameleon he’d become to fight Vietnam, and the man he had been before. The man he wanted to be again. The man he could be, if people would just stop trying to track him down so they could kill him. Because every time that happened, Jason Bourne woke up and went to work again. Even the last time in 1990, when he was a 50 year old man and too dang old for this crap. But he was still The Chameleon. He was still Bourne. And he could break everyone he met because he would not let them take his life from him. It’s awesome. I love it.

The Bourne Legacy was published in 2004, which as we all know is a completely different world from the one we knew in 1980. Cell phones. The Internet. 9-11. No Soviet Union. An age when Vietnam vets were in their 60s or 70s and far outside their days as secret agents.

So this Jason Bourne is different. He wasn’t at home when his family died to begin with. He never saw their bodies with his own eyes, floating in the river before him. He was at work, in some office building working for the government, where he was often away from his family. He went mad, found a man who could take him in, and joined the world of secret operations. One of his big missions was Carlos. Jason Bourne was captured by Carlos, taken out onto a boat, shot in the head, and dumped into the Mediterranean Sea to die. One of his greatest triumphs, escapes, and victories that started the original trilogy, survival against all odds, was turned into a total defeat at the hands of his arch nemesis. And what happened after that is never fleshed out, though it is implied that the first novel is largely accurate in the big points. Just none of it is ever actually mentioned other than the boat and the doctor that helped him recover. So we don’t really know what’s real and what’s not.

The Bourne Legacy starts some years after that. He’s married to the lady he met in the first novel, and he has two young kids (5 and 2 IIRC) like in the third Bourne novel, but he’s spent the last few years working for the government as a secret agent. Teaching in college is his cover. The book starts when someone tries to kill him. They fail. Jason Bourne the secret agent wakes up, looks around at his new battlefield, tells his wife to run for the hills, and goes to work. I won’t tell you any more because I don’t want to spoil it.

In the end, the new Jason Bourne is simply not the Jason Bourne I read about in three novels. He’s a good character. He’s fun to watch. But I just don’t like him as much. It’s much the same issue I have with the Tom Clancy continuation novels by other authors. They aren’t the same. They are different enough that it feels like I’m seeing something totally new, trying and failing to act like it comes from the other. But changing or forgetting little things that break what came in the previous novels.

I’m perfectionist enough that it annoys me when this happens. I want new authors to either continue without breaking things, or just reboot everything entirely. The halfway inbetween annoys me, because I’m stuck questioning how much of what I’ve read is real in this new version of the universe. The same thing annoys me with BattleTech under the new publishers. They keep going back and changing things, and saying “this is how it always was.” And I’m like…no…no this isn’t how it always was. Because I have the original books on my shelf that say different.

In the end, I have other books to read. Other games to play. Other universes to discover. So, now I’m reading Altered Carbon, rather than the next book in the new Jason Bourne series. Just like I stopped reading the new Tom Clancy series. Or like I found other games to play.

I won’t rate The Bourne Legacy. It’s good. Lots of people like it. It sells well, and so does it’s sequels. They simply are not for me. Maybe they will be for you.