You get a call from a stranger that has kidnapped your child to save their own kidnapped child, and for their child to be released they are dependent on you paying a ransom and kidnapping someone else’s child – this is the chain. The chain will always protect itself and if you don’t comply with the rules, your child dies and a new child will take their place.
We know that parents are willing to go a long way for their children and the premise depends on that. It makes involuntary criminals out of normal people, and in this story it’s a single mother that has recently gone through cancer treatment. At the same time it builds tension and suspense with some good luck, an omniscient narrator and writing that’s easy to read. The story flows well and it moves past the point of just one scenario, it is a chain after all, and it keeps moving even after our protagonist fulfills her chain duties.
“George Orwell was wrong, she thinks. In the future, it won’t be the state that keeps tabs on everyone by extensive use of surveillance; it will be the people. They’ll do the state’s work for it by constantly uploading their locations, interests, food preferences, restaurant choices, political ideas, and hobbies to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites. We are our own secret police.”
The book is divided into two parts and I liked that it had several different buildups. It contains many different facets and moving parts, but it’s tidy and easy to keep track of, and the web is spun well. It also brings up some real topics without stealing the spotlight. The author Adrian McKinty clearly has experience in plotting and knows exactly what he’s doing. The Chain also made The Time Magazine Books of the year list of 2019. Paramount has bought the movie rights to the book, so hopefully this will be one we’ll be able to see on the big screen in the not too distant future.
In the meantime, if you find the premise intriguing, someone tipped me on a series called “Chosen” with a similar premise. A man’s daughter is kidnapped and to save her life, he has to take another life. Also “The commuter” with Liam Neeson is currently on Netflix and he has to find a person on his commuter train or his family will be killed.
“Life is fragile, fleeting and precious.
And to live at all is miracle enough.”