David Wellington is one of those authors who have been on my radar for a while. I've picked up copies of Monster Island, 13 Bullets, and Frostbite, and I remain excited about all of them, but they've yet to make their way to the top of my TBR pile.
When I saw Chimera: A Jim Chapel Mission come available for review, I knew I had to seize the opportunity to finally make David a priority read . . . and I'm glad I did. Less of a straight-forward monster tale than his others, this is a sci-fi tinged thriller that could sit comfortably on the shelf next to the likes of Michael Crichton, Douglas Preston, and James Rollins.
Chimera was a very well-paced thriller, with some nice dramatic tension, suspense, and a deeper mystery that kept the plot moving, but which never overshadowed the immediate story. David's style of writing here is perfect for the genre, tailored slightly for a character who is just a little uncertain about whether he's the right man for the job. There are a few moments of dark humor, as well as a typical will-they-won't-they romance that actually worked better, and was developed far more naturally, than I expected.
The Chimeras themselves are interesting, and the slow unveiling of their origins adds a nice layer of sympathy atop the horror. Often, there's a danger in humanizing the monsters, but here it works, largely because of the way in which David balances that with the moral ugliness of their creators. In terms of the overall story arc, I don't think it's any great spoiler to say that there's a critical betrayal that precedes the final act, but even if I saw something coming, I must say I was pleasantly surprised to find the truth of the situation was deeper than I suspected.
If I were to have one concern with the book, it's that Jim Chapel himself comes across a little flat. Maybe it's because this is first adventure, and David is just laying the groundwork, but he could definitely be developed a little better. Outside of his job, the rehab that landed him the position, and the war injury that landed him in rehab, we really know very little about him. He never opens up about favorite foods, hobbies, friends, or anything that might help to humanize him. It's not a huge issue, and certainly doesn't stand in the way of enjoying Chimera, but that kind of development is needed if Chapel is to reserve some space on the shelf for future adventures.
If you're looking for a quick, action-packed, sci-fi tinged thriller to take to the beach or the cottage for the weekend, you could certainly do a lot worse than Chimera. Give it a shot, and you won't be disappointed.
Published July 23rd 2013 by William Morrow
ebook, 432 pages