Adrian McKinty’s The Chain is the stressful story of a mother faced with making life-altering decisions in order to save her kidnapped daughter.
Rachel is a single mother in remission from breast cancer. Her daughter, Kylie, is her entire world, so when she receives a call from an unknown number while on her way to her oncologist’s office that says Kylie has been kidnapped, her world is rocked. The caller tells her that there are rules Rachel must follow in order to get Kylie back alive – namely, paying a ransom and kidnapping someone else.
The Chain has been going on, one kidnapping after another, for years. Where did it start, who’s in control, and how can it be stopped? These questions are important, but Rachel’s first priority is saving Kylie, and the only way she knows how is to kidnap someone else’s child…
Please take caution while reading The Chain if any of the following topics may trigger you:
- Kidnapping / abduction
- Suicidal thoughts
- Death / dying
Hold on, reader – this is going to be a bumpy ride. I’ll start with the good: The Chain‘s premise and story line are very interesting. The story was never dull, and I was interested to see what Rachel would do next and understand the origin of The Chain.
That said… I can’t say I enjoyed this book. There is a difference between not hating something and actively liking it, and I fall with the former. Several things didn’t work for me, including the writing style, lack of character development, and failed attempts at philosophical depth.
The writing was extremely choppy with very short sentences, which can be an interesting style and work for a novel (see: Normal People). For this fairly surface-level thriller, however, it added nothing to the book other than causing me serious frustration and causing the narrative to have a sort of start-stop feel. Along the same lines, the point of view could be extremely confusing – semi-omniscient, but also constantly switching to every character’s third-person point of view, sometimes mid-paragraph.
Character development was seriously lacking, which I find baffling in a story that should be character-centric and whose topic could so easily lend itself to intense emotion. Without character development, there was no emotion and I was not connected to most characters or their stories. Further, their stories were half-heartedly fleshed out. Someone has cancer; someone’s an addict; someone is suicidal. These parts of the story should be so moving – with very little back story and very little emotion in the writing, they just weren’t.
Lastly, Rachel was a philosophy professor before she took time off while battling cancer, and McKinty often includes philosophical quotes or musings in – what I assume is – an attempt at providing the story with much-needed depth. Unfortunately, Rachel’s past – particularly as a professor – is explored very little in the story and these attempts fail to provide thoughtful depth to the novel.
Here’s what I think: if you’re looking for an interesting, unique premise – and nothing else (which is totally okay!) – I think you could enjoy The Chain. I read this book with my work book club and most members enjoyed it. Most also listened to it on audio, by the way – so maybe it’s more enjoyable via that format? Every book isn’t for every person, and that’s okay.
Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts on The Chain. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!