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Book Review: Chimera by David Wellington

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the far right side bar.

9780062248770_p0_v1_s260x420David Wellington, known for his best-selling horror books, has transitioned to a new genre.  His latest book, Chimera, is a very captivating political thriller that is definitely a page-turner.  This novel is the first in a series of three about the exploits of Jim Chapel, a military intelligence officer who is also an amputee with a prosthetic arm.

Wellington decided to write this book out of respect for America’s soldiers.  He told, “The whole point of the books is that I was so struck by soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, some wounded horribly.  I am hoping my readers will think about the huge sacrifices that these soldiers and their families make. I am also hoping that readers will see through Chapel’s character that soldiers are real people and not just a serial number.”

The plot takes off from the first page where Jim Chapel is given a mission of finding and hunting down a small band of fugitives, men with superhuman skills of speed, strength, and vision. They are using a “kill list” of innocent civilians.  The pursuit takes Chapel and his supporting cast of characters throughout the US: New York, Colorado, Georgia, and Alaska.

Julia Taggart, a vet whose mother was the first on the list to be murdered and is now in danger becomes part of Chapel’s team along with Angel, a brilliant computer hacker who now works for the military. Wellington described his characters: “Chapel is determined, loyal, and moralistic. I chose to create a Special Forces veteran who now works for the military intelligence because I admire the silent warrior, the kind of man who could be trusted to keep his mouth shut.  The other two characters are my female leads: Julia is skeptical, brave, and testy, whereas Angel is innovative, serious, and flirty.”

The Chimeras can be described as mostly human, somewhat like a Marvel character physically and mentally like Darth Vader from Star Wars.  A great quote from the book, “When they get frustrated, or upset… even just confused, it make them angry-and when they’re angry, nobody is safe.”  Wellington feels “They represent the dark side since they are unable to control their emotions. This leads to their downfall. Although I would compare them more to Frankenstein whose inventor deserted him.”

The theme of the book involves the soldier’s motto of never wanting to quit, even when the task appears to be impossible.  Wellington told, “The fiction part of the book is how Jim gets injured multiple times, and is able to bounce back rather quickly.  The real part shows his perseverance, his mental strength, and his determination to overcome the obstacles with a willingness to die trying.”

A very interesting subplot of the book involves the fact that the main character is an amputee who must overcome thoughts of himself as a cripple and freak.  Wellington spoke with those who had lost limbs during the War on Terror and did extensive research.  He shows in Chimera the advances made to prosthetic arms and is hoping one day, as in his book, the arm will respond to someone’s subconscious.  “I wanted to show how those with prosthetic limbs could forget they have one.  I go into detail about how the brain is able to send a message through nerve fibers, which activates electrodes that were implanted in the shoulder and wired to the arm.  Since we are talking about technology I also want to make a disclaimer.  Even though I have done a lot of research about this, tactics, and weapons there might be some technical points wrong.  But, lets not forget this is a fictional book.”

It is worth someone’s while to get the two e-book short stories that introduce Jim Chapel, prequels to ChimeraMinotaur is an action packed thriller that has Chapel confronting a Russian defector that lives in the US, but who appears to be arming domestic terrorists.  Myrmidon is the sequel that has Chapel infiltrating separatist militia groups to stop their agenda.

He also gave a heads up about his next book, Hydra, a sequel to Chimera that starts up where this novel left off.  In this book Wellington will explore the personality of Jim Chapel.  He compares it to the Empire Strikes Back, “which was a darker story than Star Wars.  But my readers should not worry Hydra is action-packed as well.”

Chimera has shown that David Wellington can write exciting and suspenseful political thrillers.  His characters are very gripping and realistic.  The only problem with this book is that readers will have to wait another year for the sequel to come out.  Anyone looking for an author that is a combination of Nelson DeMille, Jim DeFelice, and Brad Meltzer will definitely want to read David Wellington’s latest book, Chimera.