The Chain – Book Review | A Gripping & Terrifying Read

Author: Adrian McKinty
Page Count: 393
Format: Paperback
Genre: Adult Contemporary Psychological Thriller Fiction

Blurb as on Goodreads:

VICTIM.
SURVIVOR.
ABDUCTOR.
CRIMINAL.

YOU WILL BECOME EACH ONE.

Your phone rings.
A stranger has kidnapped your child.
To free them you must abduct someone else’s child.
Your child will be released when your victim’s parents kidnap another child.
If any of these things don’t happen:
Your child will be killed.

YOU ARE NOW PART OF THE CHAIN

“YOU ARE NOT THE FIRST. AND YOU WILL CERTAINLY NOT BE THE LAST.”

What would you do if a loved one was in danger? Would you do as you’re told even if it went against everything you stand for?

Initial Thoughts

The Chain is a heart-pounding and engaging thriller – for the most part – that explores the depths a parent will go to to ensure the safety and well-being of their child, even if that requires blurring the lines between right and wrong and compromising on their morals.

I was equal parts nervous and excited after reading all the praise at the start of the book – and quite intrigued as ‘Gone Girl’ was mentioned twice. If you haven’t read Gone Girl (or watched the movie) yet, that was one very addictive and compelling read with an ending that frustrated me to no end. 😬

While I wouldn’t put The Chain on the same level of terrifying twisty-ness and mind-blowing suspense as Gone Girl, it was gripping and spooky with a satisfactory ending – but more on that later. For now, you can imagine how high my expectations were going in because of this comparison. πŸ˜‰

The Plot

It’s going to be a year since Rachel beat her cancer, but it might be coming back. That’s what she’s on her way to meet the doc about when she gets the call that changes her life: her daughter has been kidnapped, and she is now part of The Chain. If she doesn’t do as she’s told, her daughter dies.

“Remember, it’s not about the money – it’s about The Chain.”

The Chain is a self-sustaining business that takes care of its own. If someone misbehaves or dares to step out of line, it ‘takes care’ of them too. The Chain is essentially creating victims and then forcing them to become predators themselves – pushing people past the limits of human decency by threatening them and their loved ones – all the while making a ton of money in the process.

The Writing

I wasn’t sure about the story being narrated in the Simple Present Tense – it felt awkward and jarring. It did, at times, contribute to the thrill and terror since it felt like I was witnessing everything right as it was happening and was powerless to do anything about it – just along for the ride and unable to look away. I guess that was the intention, but it didn’t work that well for me. I plowed through hoping I would get used to it in time, but even till the end, it would sometimes throw me out of the story.

I did like that there was a good mix of short and long chapters, but the pacing was a bit off, especially when, after the first few action-packed chapters, things slowed down way too much and seemed to drag, but I kept going, and it got better. I flew through the last 60% of the book in two sittings.

The Characters

There’s not a lot I can say here about the characters without giving away major spoilers, which would defeat the main purpose of sharing this review with you all, which is to help you decide whether this book is something you’d like to pick up or not. 😊

But…here’s what I can say: the protagonist, Rachel, is an amazingly brave, strong, and resourceful woman and mother who loves her daughter more than anything. I really admired how well she handled herself in such a horrible situation, all alone trying to get Kylie back.

They can tell no one that they have gone through the looking glass and into the world where nightmares are real.

The antagonist, who at first seemed so cold, calculating, and cruel, came across somewhat foolish, arrogant, and unhinged by the end, considering they masterminded this huge violent operation and kept it running for several years. It was nice to get some glimpses into their origin, but that also took away some of the suspense and mystery as certain things did not add up for me.

Final Thoughts

Most of the twists kept me turning the pages until the story ended in a heart-pounding climax, but the buildup was a little rushed. I feel like it could have been grittier, much more intense, and suspenseful.

The most exciting and terrifying part of reading a thriller like this is not knowing what you would do if faced with a similar situation – either you abandon your values and morals to protect your loved ones from harm, or you risk losing your loved ones by trying to do the ‘right’ thing – there’s no good outcome either way. No way of knowing what the right thing to do is. It can make you confront your actual ‘self’ if you let it, and you might not like what you see. 😏

As J. G. Ballard pointed out, civilization is just a thin, fragile veneer over the law of the jungle: Better you than me. Better your kid than my kid.

That said, I really did enjoy the story and would like to read more from the author! Also, a huge thanks to Hachette India for gifting me this copy. 😊

Content Warning: physical violence, drug abuse, needles, kidnapping, death, mental abuse

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.25

Find this book: Goodreads | Amazon

Have you read this book yet? Are you planning to? Let me know in the comments below! Also, leave a link to your latest post, I’d be happy to check it out!

2 thoughts on “The Chain – Book Review | A Gripping & Terrifying Read

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