Orion | July 2019 | 368 pgs
Source: Library 

Have you ever received a chain letter before? I did during my primary school days. Someone snail mailed it to me, with the message telling me to follow the same and send it to (10?) other people or otherwise something bad would happen (something like that as I couldn't remember the specifics). I didn't do anything, afterall I didn't want to waste my school allowance on postage stamps on something which seems absurd (truth be told, I was doubtful but I didn't succumb to following it). Reading this book had brought me back to that time as I remember this saga had many of us in school feeling intrigued and fearful at the same time. Is it a curse? Should we carry on the task so we can be free of any bad vibes? So many questions yet no reassuring and affirmative answers. But now we all know that they are basically emotionally manipulative messages, some pyramid schemes or superstitions as a threat to the recipient. Well, this book is nothing like those chain letters. What this chain will ask of you is much more frightening and deadly. 

Rachel is a divorced single mother with a 13-year-old daughter, Kylie. Rachel has breast cancer a while back and she thought she has it controlled with the treatments until the doctor told her that the cancer cells might be coming back. As if the news isn't bad enough, she received a call from a stranger that Kylie has been kidnapped. However, this is no ordinary ransom case. The caller told her that their child has also been kidnapped by someone else and that the only way to get your child back is to kidnap another child within 24 hours. The chain, they explained, is simple and only when Rachel kidnaps another child should their child be released; and Rachel will have to kidnap another child to have Kylie back. But breaking the chain by calling the police, failing the task or having the next victim's parents not completing the task would have your child murdered. There seems to be no resolution but to follow the instructions because whoever is behind this chain has everything monitored and scrutinised. Could Rachel find a way to break away from the chain? 

This book was intense but it wasn't an easy read as it involves child kidnapping. However, I've to say the idea was refreshing since I don't think I've read anything like this. Rachel was an intriguing character on many levels - she's a strong and determined woman. She's definitely a survivor based from her outlook on her cancer and her treatment journey. And she works hard to make ends meet so she is definitely not a quitter. Pete, who is Rachel's brother-in-law, also played an important role in this story as he was the one who helped and supported Rachel throughout the horrendous event. Unlike Rachel, Pete is a flawed character who is an opiate addict and suffered from PTSD after his military assignments in Afghanistan. 

The story was split into two parts in which the first was mostly on the kidnapping and Rachel's task and all the challenges she's facing. The second part is more on the mastermind behind the chain and their background; and of course not to mention Rachel's plan in overturning the chain. All in all it was an intense read and it explores how a person would react or break under pressured circumstances with your loved ones at stake. 

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12 Responses
  1. Jeane Says:

    Having kids myself, I don't think I could read this book- too much troubling content. I remember when those chain letters were a thing. Don't think I ever did one- but I also saw some positive ones go around- such as, you send a recipe to ten people, and then you're supposed to get twenty or more recipes sent to you, when it circles back around. Not sure if it worked!

  2. Melody Says:

    Jeane - I know what you mean, Jeane. It's definitely not an easy read especially for parents. I think the idea of exchanging recipes is a good one; or any other positive and inspiring messages for that matter. We definitely need something like that going around with what happened around the world lately.

  3. Kay Says:

    I, too, remember those chains and think I participated in a recipe chain way, way back in my younger days. Also think I got quite a few recipes. Wonder where those are? Ha!

    As to the book, I've heard that it is very suspenseful even though the storyline is horrific. I have been considering reading it, but I probably won't listen to it on audio as I seem to do better with those terrible situations in print and not listening - who knows why? Good to know what you thought, Melody. You put a lot of books on my list or move them up my list.

  4. jenclair Says:

    As frequently as I've seen this one touted by readers, I still don't think I can take it on. But I want to know how Rachel planned to overturning the chain! I really, really do want to know, but without the tension of reading the book!

  5. Lark Says:

    I've been wanting to read this one! It's such a chilling premise...much more intense than the chain letters of childhood. Great review, Melody. :)

  6. Melody Says:

    Kay - I'd love to get recipes that way. Yes, the story was intense and suspenseful especially the first part. I'll be curious of what you'll think of this book if you do read it, Kay. I think this is one of those books that will fit a book club choice.

  7. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - it wasn't an easy read, that's for sure. I've to remind myself that this is fiction when reading it. I've to say what Rachel did to overturn the chain was a brave one.

  8. Melody Says:

    Lark - This book will make a good buddy read, Lark. I'd have suggested it if not for the library loan time since I've to return it this week. Then again, we've our next buddy read to look forward to. :)

  9. I remember those chain letters . . . They still are around in e-mail form--and I see them sometimes on FB, in a slightly different incarnation (share this post or bad luck will come your way--or share this and money will come your way). I always ignore them, but so many do fall for them. :-(

    I am really interested in this book, however! I will have to look for it!

  10. Melody Says:

    Wendy - Oh yes, they do come in email form, too. They're as annoying as spams. :(

    I'll be curious of your thoughts if you do read it, Wendy.

  11. Iliana Says:

    I finished this one earlier this month and there were parts of the book I really liked. I especially thought the first part was really strong. I think this will be an author to watch!

  12. Melody Says:

    Iliana - I agree that the first part was strong. I think this author has great potential and I look forward to his future books.

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